March, 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:

March, 2022


  1. How 2 Industries Stymied Justice for Young Lead Paint Victims: The U.S. insurance and real estate industries have waged a decades-long campaign to avoid liability in lead cases, helping to prolong an epidemic. The cost for millions of children has been incalculable.
    • When Selena Wiley signed the lease for an older rental home in South Bend, Ind., she asked the property manager about lead paint and was assured the house was safe. But in November 2018 — almost two years after moving in with her partner and three children — Ms. Wiley noticed that their 2-year-old’s appetite had vanished and his constant chattering had stopped.
    • A doctor soon discovered that the boy, Joevonne, known as J.J., had lead poisoning. The level was so high that he immediately began a 19-day treatment to help rid his body of the toxin, which can cause irreversible damage to a child’s brain and nervous system. A health inspector soon found lead paint and dust throughout the family’s rental home.
    • As J.J. faces an uncertain future, no one has been held responsible so far — the firm that owns the home protected its assets in a tangle of limited liability companies, and the property insurer excluded lead from its coverage. These practices are now the norm across the United States, The New York Times has found, part of a decades-long campaign by the real estate and insurance industries to shield themselves from liability in lead-poisoning cases. The effort has helped allow what is often considered a problem of the past to remain a silent epidemic today.
    • Not only is the illness a scourge in many of the country’s poorer ZIP codes, but families like J.J.’s have less recourse than ever. Over the years, children often received settlements or court judgments to help pay for health care, therapy and tutoring as they struggled with the life-altering effects of lead poisoning. The payments also served as a warning to landlords to make sure their properties were safe.
    • But with little public attention and the approval of state officials, insurance companies across the country excluded lead from their policies, declining to pay out when children were poisoned on properties they covered, according to interviews with health and housing officials, regulators and lawyers who represented children and their families. The move also eased pressure on landlords to fix up their rentals.
    • No exposure to lead is considered safe, and even low levels have been shown to affect a child’s intelligence, learning ability and behavior, according to the C.D.C. Repercussions can be lifelong, and taxpayers end up footing much of the cost of care — billions of dollars annually for medical treatment and special education.
    • While federal lawmakers have recently taken steps to combat lead poisoning, they have not done enough. Congress allocated money in the infrastructure bill to replace lead pipes that can taint water, but removed funding for the far larger problem of lead paint in older dwellings, which accounts for up to 70 percent of elevated lead in children, according to the C.D.C. Though President Biden’s Build Back Better bill contained $5 billion to remediate residential lead paint hazards, it stalled in Congress in December. [ael: our government at work, for the 1%….]


  1. Why do Putin, Trump, Tucker Carlson and the Republican party sound so alike?: Putin’s lies, and the lies coming from America’s extreme right, are mutually supporting. There’s a reason for that
    • Reduced to basics, today’s oligarchs and strongmen (along with their mouthpieces and lackeys) are trying to justify their wealth and power by attacking liberal values that have shaped the west, beginning with the enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries – the values of tolerance, openness, democracy, self-government, equal rights, and the rule of law. These values are incompatible with a society of oligarchs and strongmen.
    • Ultimately, the oligarchs and strongmen will lose [ael: but at what cost? If we don't win fast enough, the world will tank from climate chaos, nuclear war, and/or….]. Putin won’t succeed in subduing Ukraine, Trump won’t be re-elected president, and Carlson and his ilk won’t persuade Americans to give up on American ideals. But the culture wars won’t end any time soon, because so much wealth and power have consolidated at the top of America, Russia, and elsewhere around the world that anti-liberal forces have risen to justify it.


  1. RIP Madeleine Albright and Her Awful, Awful Career: From setting the stage for the Iraq War to acting as a brand ambassador for a pyramid scheme, Clinton’s secretary of state did it all.
    • In August 1996, Israel bombed a U.N. peacekeeping compound in Qana, a village in Lebanon, killing 106 civilians. The outrage in the Arab world was enormous, so much so that the attack was cited in Osama bin Laden’s “Declaration of War” later the same year. A U.N. investigation soon found that it was “unlikely that the shelling of the United Nations compound was the result of technical and/or procedural errors.”
    • Albright already felt animus toward then-U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali for the fact that the international body did not always bend completely to the will of the U.S. But this was the final straw. She and others formed what National Security Council official Richard Clarke called a “secret plan,” dubbed “Operation Orient Express,” to oust Boutros-Ghali after his first term expired. That November the U.N. Security Council voted 14-1 to reappoint him. The sole “no” vote was cast by Albright for the U.S. — and since America holds a veto as a permanent member of the Security Council, Boutros-Ghali was gone. The New York Times reported that an “American official remarked before the veto that hostility toward the United States had never been so palpable, as diplomats from around the world watched the Clinton Administration attack Mr. Boutros-Ghali’s record with dwindling credibility.”
    • But even that is not the whole Madeleine Albright story. Perhaps the most edifying act in Albright’s life has been almost completely forgotten, and has been mentioned in none of the glowing mainstream Albright obituaries: Albright was a longtime brand ambassador for Herbalife Nutrition, a dietary supplement company. According to the New York Post, she was paid $10 million for these efforts over six years. Below she can be seen enthusing about Herbalife in an infomercial, saying, “You have a great product. That makes all the difference. I’m a product of the product!”
    • In a 2016 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Herbalife agreed to pay $200 million in response to charges that it had “deceived consumers” into participating as the dupes in a pyramid scheme. No wonder Herbalife wanted Albright — there were few better at drawing marks into the great multilevel marketing scam that is U.S. foreign policy.
  2. New Sulfur-Based Solar Reactor Makes Cheap Green Hydrogen for Copper Mines: By producing solar hydrogen as an industrial service for copper mining, the scale is established for mass production of green hydrogen at much lower cost than electrolysis.
    • Extracting hydrogen from sulfuric acid with solar uses much less energy than water electrolysis
      • Using sulfuric acid, both hydrogen and oxygen can be generated in a new kind of solar reactor. In the two-step HyS process, high temperature solar heat at up to 900 °C is used to decompose sulfuric acid (H2SO4) to generate hydrogen and oxygen.
      • The decomposition of sulfuric acid is part of the first process step of producing sulfur trioxide (SO2) and oxygen. In the second step, the SO2 together with water goes to an SO2-depolarised electrolyzer (SDE) to generate hydrogen and fresh H2SO4, to repeat the cycle.
      • This SO2-depolarised electrolyzer only requires about a seventh of the electrical energy of conventional water electrolysis, so this method can produce about 50% more hydrogen with the same solar input.
      • International research groups in Germany, Australia, Japan and the US have engineered and tested the component parts needed for this very high temperature sulfur-based process – a solar reactor/evaporator, a heat exchanger for SO3 decomposition, and an oxygen separator for SO2 and O2. Materials search identified construction from silicon carbide which can maintain stability in the corrosive conditions and the very high temperatures needed to perform the thermochemistry.


  1. In a First, an Ice Shelf Collapses in East Antarctica: Scientists say a period of unusual weather, combined with record-low sea ice, led to the disintegration of the Conger ice shelf.
    • The collapse of the 450-square-mile Conger ice shelf in a part of the continent called Wilkes Land occurred in mid-March. It was first spotted by scientists with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and appeared in satellite images taken on March 17, according to the National Ice Center in the United States.
    • The loss of a shelf can allow faster movement of the glaciers behind it, which can lead to more rapid ice-sheet loss and thus greater sea-level rise. Ice-shelf loss is a major concern in West Antarctica, where warming related to climate change is having a greater effect than in the east. Several very large glaciers in West Antarctica are already flowing faster and if their ice shelves were to collapse completely, sea levels could rise on the order of 10 feet over centuries.
    • But the two glaciers behind the Conger sheet are small, and even if they were to accelerate, would have minimal effect on sea level, on the order of fractions of an inch over a century or two, said Ted Scambos, a senior researcher at the Earth Science and Observation Center at the University of Colorado Boulder. [ael: ah, so nothing to worry about! Grrrr……]
    • While some ice shelves have collapsed in West Antarctica — notably the much larger Larsen B, in 2002 — the Conger collapse is the first observed in East Antarctica since the era of satellite imagery began in 1979, said Catherine Walker, a glaciologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Dr. Walker, who had been monitoring the ice shelf for a few months, said it had been retreating for several years. “It was an unhealthy little ice shelf to begin with,” she said. But it had appeared to become stabilized, she said, between the mainland and a small island. [ael: ah yes; it was an unhealthy little ice shelf, with a largest iceberg of a mere 200 square miles in area…. "According to the National Ice Center, the largest fragment of the Conger shelf after the collapse was an iceberg, named C-38, that was about 200 square miles in size."]
  2. We’re in a Fossil Fuel War. Biden Should Say So. (Farhad Manjoo)
    • And yet American politicians on the left sure seem incapable of drawing out this connection, don’t they? In his State of the Union address shortly after Russia’s invasion, President Biden whiffed on a major opportunity to revive his stalled climate change agenda by underlining the geopolitical dangers of fossil fuels. His references to climate change — what he has previously called an “existential threat” to the planet — were buried under, rather than connected to, his comments about the war. Concerned with the effects that disruptions might have on fuel supplies, gas prices and inflation in general, he also announced the release, with 30 other nations, of 60 million barrels of oil.
    • But it was an interview that Svitlana Krakovska, a Ukrainian climate scientist who is a member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, gave that brought home the argument for me. Krakovska recently told The Guardian that as Russian bombs began to fall on Ukraine, she reflected on the interconnected nature of her area of study and her country’s peril.
    • I’ll let her have the final words: “I started to think about the parallels between climate change and this war and it’s clear that the roots of both these threats to humanity are found in fossil fuels,” Krakovska said in the interview. “Burning oil, gas and coal is causing warming and impacts we need to adapt to. And Russia sells these resources and uses the money to buy weapons. Other countries are dependent upon these fossil fuels; they don’t make themselves free of them. This is a fossil fuel war. It’s clear we cannot continue to live this way; it will destroy our civilization.”


  1. As Lake Powell Hits Landmark Low, Arizona Looks to a $1 Billion Investment and Mexican Seawater to Slake its Thirst: Gov. Doug Ducey hopes to solve the state’s water woes during his last year in office as decades of drought strain water supplies from the Colorado River.
    • In his last state of the state speech in January, he proposed an investment of $1.16 billion over the next three years to make the state “more resilient to drought, secure a sustainable water future and allow for continued growth.” The goal, he said, is to “secure Arizona’s water future for the next 100 years.”
    • Among the potential projects that the agency could develop are desalination plants in Mexico, which would create freshwater by removing salt from seawater. Arizona and other Lower Basin states would take some of Mexico’s shares of Colorado River water in exchange for the water they financed desalinating south of the border, according to Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke.
    • Last week, for the first time since it was filled 50 years ago, the water level in Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the country, dropped so low that it threatens the ability of Glen Canyon Dam to generate electricity for some 6 million customers that depend on it. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced on Wednesday that the reservoir in the Upper Colorado River Basin had fallen below the 3,525-foot target elevation that provides a 35-foot buffer before declining water levels reach the minimum required to spin the dam’s turbines. The water level is expected to recover by May, but its supply of water will remain perilously diminished.
    • And Lake Powell is not the only critical, southwestern reservoir running low. In August, the Bureau of Reclamation declared a water shortage for the first time in Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the country, which is formed by the Hoover Dam in the Lower Colorado River Basin.
  2. Energy efficiency guru Amory Lovins: ‘It’s the largest, cheapest, safest, cleanest way to address the crisis’: One of the leading advocates of energy conservation explains why this could be a turning point for climate economics
    • Temperatures dropped far below freezing this week in Snowmass, Colorado. But Amory Lovins, who lives high up in the mountains at 7,200ft above sea level, did not even turn on the heating. That’s because he has no heating to turn on. His home, a great adobe and glass mountainside eyrie that he designed in the 1980s, collects solar energy and is so well insulated that he grows and harvests bananas and many other tropical fruits there without burning gas, oil or wood.
    • But for much of that time efficiency was seen as a bit of an ugly sister, rather dull compared with a massive transition to renewables and other new technologies. Now, he hopes, its time may have come. Lovins is arguing for the mass insulation of buildings alongside a vast acceleration of renewables. “We should crank [them] up with wartime urgency. There should be far more emphasis on efficiency,” he says.
    • So far, this integrative design approach has been mostly adopted by the private sector. Walmart, the world’s largest truck operator, improved its energy efficiency by nearly 40% by rethinking its operation. Other retail and auto firms such as Tesla and BMW have also seen enormous energy savings. Lovins’ most spectacular early success may have been his 1991 Hypercar concept, an all-electric, carbon-fibre-body vehicle that could do 300 miles to the gallon. It was dismissed at the time but all carmakers are now moving that way.
    • Lovins fears that design has been chopped into little bits and we are losing the bigger energy picture that the Victorians had. In a recent podcast with the UK energy adviser Micheal Liebreich, he explains how savings of 80% and more can be made in the least expected areas. As an example he shows that far less energy is needed to pump heat or cold through fat, straight pipes than skinny, long and crooked ones, because there is less friction. “In our house we save 97% of the pumping energy by properly laying out some pipes. Well, if everyone in the world did that to their pipes and ducts, you would save about a fifth of the world’s electricity, or half the coal-fired electricity. And you get your money back instantly in new-build or in under a year typically in retrofits in buildings and industry.”
    • And yet, he says, this sort of energy efficiency is not taught, and it’s certainly not in any government study or climate model. Why not? “Because it’s not a technology. It’s a bloody design,” he says.
    • At 7,200ft up in Snowmass, Lovins is eating crop No 79 of his bananas, and crop No 80 is shaping up. “Lots of other tropical fruits too,” he adds.
    • [ael: Amory mentions this: This Dutch construction innovation shows it’s possible to quickly retrofit every building]
  3. A Very British Climate Project Unites Soggy Weather and a Victorian Work Ethic: As Britain went into its first Covid lockdown, a scientist asked for help transcribing rainfall records spanning three centuries. Thousands of people online answered the call.
    • Dr. Hawkins is perhaps best known for creating the climate stripes, a way of visualizing global warming. He is now involved with another online project to transcribe weather observations made by mariners traversing the globe in the mid-19th century. It is part of a larger initiative, GloSAT, that aims to extend records of worldwide surface temperatures — on land, ocean and ice — back to the 1780s. At the moment, most global temperature records start in the 1850s.
    • The additional information could help scientists better understand the Earth’s climate before the Industrial Revolution and the accompanying large-scale carbon emissions from human activity. It could also reveal more about how the climate reacted to several huge volcanic eruptions in the early 19th century, including the one at Mount Tambora, in what is now Indonesia, that chilled the planet and caused the so-called “year without a summer.”
    • “We haven’t had a really big one probably since Tambora in 1815,” Dr. Hawkins said. “We’re probably overdue one. And so understanding the consequences of an eruption like that ahead of time would probably be quite useful.”


  1. Changes to birds’ nesting habits may signal broader climate shift, study says: The findings add to a growing body of research on how birds are affected by shifts in their environment and the potential struggles they may face in coping with climate change.
    • The research on birds' nesting practices combined extensive collections of eggs preserved in museums with recent observations to compare how egg-laying has changed over time. The scientists studied 72 bird species for which historical and modern data were available in the Chicago area and found that around one-third are nesting and laying eggs an average of 25 days earlier than they were 100 years ago.
    • In 2019, a study published in the journal Ecology Letters found that the body sizes of birds have been shrinking as global temperatures rise and the climate warms, while the length of their wingspans grew, possibly indicating ways that birds are adapting to climate change. That same year, an alarming study published in the journal Science found that nearly 3 billion birds had been lost in the U.S. and Canada since 1970.
    • "Birds are absolutely a harbinger of what's going on," he said. "They're much more tied to what's going on seasonally than we are. So I think closing the loop on the life histories of birds is something that we need to spend more time getting the basic natural history data to do."
  2. Satellite data shows entire Conger ice shelf has collapsed in Antarctica: Nasa scientist says complete collapse of ice shelf as big as Rome during unusually high temperatures is ‘sign of what might be coming’
    • Scientists are particularly concerned about the future of the Florida-sized Thwaites glacier – also nicknamed the “doomsday glacier” – which is around 100 times larger than Larsen B and contains enough water to raise sea levels globally by more than half a metre.
    • “The speed of the breakup of [the Conger] ice shelf reminds us that things can change quickly,” King said. “Our carbon emissions will have an impact in Antarctica, and Antarctica will come back to bite the rest of the world’s coastlines and it may happen faster than we think.”


  1. Trying to Solve a Covid Mystery: Africa’s Low Death Rates: The coronavirus was expected to devastate the continent, but higher-income and better-prepared countries appear to have fared far worse.
    • The assertion that Covid isn’t as big a threat in Africa has sparked debate about whether the African Union’s push to vaccinate 70 percent of Africans against the virus this year is the best use of health care resources, given that the devastation from other pathogens, such as malaria, appears to be much higher.
    • Into Year Three of the pandemic, new research shows there is no longer any question of whether Covid has spread widely in Africa. It has. Studies that tested blood samples for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the official name for the virus that causes Covid, show that about two-thirds of the population in most sub-Saharan countries do indeed have those antibodies. Since only 14 percent of the population has received any kind of Covid vaccination, the antibodies are overwhelmingly from infection.
    • A new W.H.O.-led analysis, not yet peer-reviewed, synthesized surveys from across the continent and found that 65 percent of Africans had been infected by the third quarter of 2021, higher than the rate in many parts of the world. Just 4 percent of Africans had been vaccinated when these data were gathered.
    • Some speculation has focused on the relative youth of Africans. Their median age is 19 years, compared with 43 in Europe and 38 in the United States. Nearly two-thirds of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is under 25, and only 3 percent is 65 or older. That means far fewer people, comparatively, have lived long enough to develop the health issues (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer) that can sharply increase the risk of severe disease and death from Covid. Young people infected by the coronavirus are often asymptomatic, which could account for the low number of reported cases.
    • Plenty of other hypotheses have been floated. High temperatures and the fact that much of life is spent outdoors could be preventing spread. Or the low population density in many areas, or limited public transportation infrastructure. Perhaps exposure to other pathogens, including coronaviruses and deadly infections such as Lassa fever and Ebola, has somehow offered protection.
    • A research team he led found that during Zambia’s Delta wave, 87 percent of bodies in hospital morgues were infected with Covid. “The morgue was full. Nothing else is different — what is different is that we just have very poor data.” The Economist, which has been tracking excess deaths throughout the pandemic, shows similar rates of death across Africa. Sondre Solstad, who runs the Africa model, said that there had been between one million and 2.9 million excess deaths on the continent during the pandemic. “It would be beautiful if Africans were spared, but they aren’t,” he said.
    • “A death in Africa never goes unrecorded, as much as we are poor at record-keeping,” said Dr. Abdhalah Ziraba, an epidemiologist at the African Population and Health Research Center in Nairobi, Kenya. “There is a funeral, an announcement: A burial is never done within a week because it is a big event. [ael: my emphasis; Awara was buried in a day or two. Muslims bury quickly….] For someone sitting in New York hypothesizing that they were unrecorded — well, we may not have the accurate numbers, but the perception is palpable. In the media, in your social circle, you know if there are deaths.”
    • But he also said it was clear that large numbers of people were not turning up in the hospital with respiratory distress. The young population is clearly a key factor, he said, while some older people who die of strokes and other Covid-induced causes are not being identified as coronavirus deaths. Many are not making it to the hospital at all, and their deaths are not registered. But others are not falling ill at rates seen elsewhere, and that’s a mystery that needs unraveling.
    • Some organizations working on the Covid vaccination effort say the lower rates of illness and death should be driving a rethinking of policy. John Johnson, vaccination adviser for Doctors Without Borders, said that vaccinating 70 percent of Africans made sense a year ago when it seemed like vaccines might provide long-term immunity and make it possible to end Covid-19 transmission. But now that it’s clear that protection wanes, collective immunity no longer looks achievable. And so an immunization strategy that focuses on protecting just the most vulnerable would arguably be a better use of resources in a place such as Sierra Leone. “Is this the most important thing to try to carry out in countries where there are much bigger problems with malaria, with polio, with measles, with cholera, with meningitis, with malnutrition? Is this what we want to spend our resources on in those countries?” he asked. “Because at this point, it’s not for those people: It’s to try to prevent new variants.”
  2. Microplastics found in human blood for first time: Exclusive: The discovery shows the particles can travel around the body and may lodge in organs
    • Microplastic pollution has been detected in human blood for the first time, with scientists finding the tiny particles in almost 80% of the people tested.
    • Huge amounts of plastic waste are dumped in the environment and microplastics now contaminate the entire planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans. People were already known to consume the tiny particles via food and water as well as breathing them in, and they have been found in the faeces of babies and adults.
    • The scientists analysed blood samples from 22 anonymous donors, all healthy adults and found plastic particles in 17. Half the samples contained PET plastic, which is commonly used in drinks bottles, while a third contained polystyrene, used for packaging food and other products. A quarter of the blood samples contained polyethylene, from which plastic carrier bags are made.
    • The scientists analysed blood samples from 22 anonymous donors, all healthy adults and found plastic particles in 17. Half the samples contained PET plastic, which is commonly used in drinks bottles, while a third contained polystyrene, used for packaging food and other products. A quarter of the blood samples contained polyethylene, from which plastic carrier bags are made. “We also know in general that babies and young children are more vulnerable to chemical and particle exposure,” he said. “That worries me a lot.”
    • Vethaak acknowledged that the amount and type of plastic varied considerably between the blood samples. “But this is a pioneering study,” he said, with more work now needed. He said the differences might reflect short-term exposure before the blood samples were taken, such as drinking from a plastic-lined coffee cup, or wearing a plastic face mask.
    • “Plastic production is set to double by 2040,” said Jo Royle, founder of the charity Common Seas. “We have a right to know what all this plastic is doing to our bodies.” Common Seas, along with more than 80 NGOs, scientists and MPs, are asking the UK government to allocate £15m to research on the human health impacts of plastic. The EU is already funding research on the impact of microplastic on foetuses and babies, and on the immune system.
    • A recent study found that microplastics can latch on to the outer membranes of red blood cells and may limit their ability to transport oxygen. The particles have also been found in the placentas of pregnant women, and in pregnant rats they pass rapidly through the lungs into the hearts, brains and other organs of the foetuses.
  3. Arctic sea ice could hit maximum extent ‘much earlier’ than usual: Some stations reported winter temperatures 30C warmer than usual with situation echoed in Antarctica
    • An extreme heat event in the Arctic could cause it to reach the maximum of the extent of its ice for this year “considerably earlier” than usual, a scientist has warned. Temperature records were broken in Norway last week, with rain falling at Svalbard airport, and unusually warm temperatures recorded in Greenland and the Russian archipelago of Franz Josef Land.
    • Stroeve was cautious about attributing the extreme heat events to the climate crisis. “While we may expect such warming extremes to occur more frequently under climate change, it is too early to say this particular event is related to climate change,” she said. “Weather is always unpredictable. And it’s important to remember that air temperatures, while warmer than average, remain below zero.”
    • Dr Lisa Schipper, co-ordinating lead chapter author for the IPCC sixth assessment report and Oxford environmental research fellow, said: “The IPCC report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability released in February underscores that the window of opportunity to act on climate is rapidly closing. “If these extreme temperatures don’t wake people up about this urgency, at the same time as war threatens to encourage more fossil fuel extraction and use, I don’t know what will.”
  4. Arctic sea ice reached its maximum extent at a near-record early date: Ice reached its greatest extent on Feb. 25, one day short of the earliest date on record.
    • Sea ice extent reached its annual maximum on Feb. 25, 15 days earlier than the 1981-2010 average date and one of the earliest dates for that milestone in the four-decade satellite record, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported on Tuesday. “That’s certainly unusually early,” said NSIDC Director Mark Serreze. There were only two years where annual maximums happened earlier: 1987 and 1996, both with maximum extents reached on Feb. 24. That makes Feb. 25 the second-earliest date for the annual record and it makes 2022 the second year hitting that mark; in 2015, the maximum extent was also reached on Feb. 25.
    • Last year, for example, the April ice volume was the lowest measured for that month in 11 years, as described by the Arctic Report Card. Last August, the amount of multiyear ice — the thicker ice that survives successive summers — hit a record low, the NSIDC reported last year.
    • Increased ice extent can hide the other trend of thinner and younger ice, Serreze said. “Just because you have a good extent does not mean the ice is healthy,” he said. This year’s freeze patterns varied by location, as is typical. By the time the maximum was reached, ice extent was near or above long-term averages in some places like the Bering Sea and Baffin Bay, but it was below average in other places, like the Barents Sea, according to the NSIDC. Winter extent wound up well below average in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Sea of Okhotsk, the NSIDC said.
  5. Yes, your dog can go vegan – but cats are natural born killers: With plant-based diets on the rise, it’s natural to reconsider what’s going into pets’ food bowls. But some animals may not take to vegetables as readily as others
    • Cats are different: as obligate carnivores, it’s far more difficult for them to remain healthy without eating meat. Their anatomy – ie their teeth and digestive tracts – and metabolism have evolved to obtain nutrition from small prey such as rodents and birds. While a cat’s physical anatomy can adapt (cats are able to consume, digest and absorb plant-based food), a cat’s energy-creating metabolic processes cannot: felines need specific groups of nutrients that are commonly found only in meat.
    • For starters, cats have a higher protein requirement, with an absolute need for two specific amino acids (the individual units that combine to form proteins). One of these, taurine, is only found naturally in meat but can be synthetically manufactured from chemicals of non-meat origin. The other is arginine, which is common in meat but can also be found in specific plant sources. If feeding a non-meat diet to a cat, careful supplementation of these two amino acids is essential.
    • Secondly, a cat’s diet must include arachidonic acid, an essential fatty acid that is usually found only in animal tissue. A soil fungus can be used to manufacture a vegan version of arachidonic acid, and this can be used to supplement commercial vegan cat food. They also have meat-linked vitamin needs, including a preformed version of vitamin A that is only found naturally in meat, and also vitamin B12. Synthetic supplements of these nutrients are added to commercial vegan cat diets to stop them becoming seriously ill.
  6. ‘I don’t know how we’ll survive’: the farmers facing ruin in Maine’s ‘forever chemicals’ crisis: Maine faces a crisis from PFAS-contaminated produce, which is causing farms to close and farmers to face the loss of their livelihoods
    • Songbird Farm’s 17 acres (7 hectares) hold sandy loam fields, three greenhouses and cutover woods that comprise an idyllic setting near Maine’s central coast. The small organic operation carved out a niche growing heirloom grains, tomatoes, sweet garlic, cantaloupe and other products that were sold to organic food stores or as part of a community-supported agriculture program, where people pay to receive boxes of locally grown produce. Farmers Johanna Davis and Adam Nordell bought Songbird in 2014. By 2021 the young family with their three-year-old son were hitting their stride, Nordell said.
    • But disaster struck in December. The couple learned the farm’s previous owner had decades earlier used PFAS-tainted sewage sludge, or “biosolids”, as fertilizer on Songbird’s fields. Testing revealed their soil, drinking water, irrigation water, crops, chickens and blood were contaminated with high levels of the toxic chemicals.
    • The couple quickly recalled products, alerted customers, suspended their operation and have been left deeply fearful for their financial and physical wellbeing.
    • Public health advocates say Songbird is just the tip of the iceberg as Maine faces a brewing crisis stemming from the use of biosolids as fertilizer. The state has begun investigating more than 700 properties for PFAS contamination. Few results are in yet but several farmers’ independent testing revealed high PFAS levels, and statewide contamination has disrupted about 10 farms.
    • Maine is hardly alone. It is finding more contamination because it’s doing more testing, experts say. All sludge contains some level of PFAS, and farms across the country have increasingly used the substance as fertilizer in recent decades. Michigan, one of the only other states to monitor biosolids and to test agricultural products, recently discovered PFAS-contaminated beef.
    • PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 9,000 compounds used to make products heat-, water- or stain-resistant. Known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t naturally break down, they have been linked to cancer, thyroid disruption, liver problems, birth defects, immunosuppression and more. Dozens of industries use PFAS in thousands of consumer products, and often discharge the chemicals into the nation’s sewer system.
    • Sludge is a by-product of the wastewater treatment process that’s a mix of human excrement and any number of more than 90,000 human-made chemicals or substances discharged from industry’s pipes. “It’s a toxic soup,” said Laura Orlando, a Boston University civil engineer who studies sludge contamination.
    • The farm’s PFAS levels are also alarming. Maine’s water limit on six kinds of PFAS is 20 parts per trillion (ppt), while levels at Songbird were 8,000 ppt. The state set sludge limits between 2.5 parts per billion (ppb) and 5.2 ppb – Songbird recorded levels in its soil as high as 475 ppb.
    • Additionally, PFAS can spread. Ironwood Farm, about six miles from Songbird, tested its water and found high levels suspected to have migrated from a neighbors’ sludge-packed field. The small produce farm pulled its products, halted operations and is nervously awaiting more test results. “I spent my entire adult life building this farm,” said Nell Finnigan, an Ironwood farmer. “Everything is at stake for us, and this is a tragedy for anyone who comes up with a high well test.”
    • After Stoneridge Farm, a small dairy operation more than 100 miles south of Songbird, discovered in 2016 that sludge and paper mill waste used as fertilizer had probably contaminated its cows and milk, the state developed limits for two kinds of PFAS in sludge. Subsequent testing found about 95% of Maine’s sludge exceeded the limits.
    • In the meantime, farmers struggle. Stoneridge killed most of its livestock in 2019. Co-owner Fred Stone was denied federal assistance for his tainted milk because one of its milk tests came in just below the state’s limit, but Stone didn’t feel comfortable selling it. Now his family of four, which believes PFAS is behind their health ailments from thyroid disease to reproductive problems, survives on welfare and friends’ and family’s generosity. Stone said he could have continued to sell contaminated food: “This is the cost of having a moral compass and doing the right thing.” “I don’t know how we are going to get debts paid,” he added. “I don’t know how the Christ we are going to live. I don’t know how we’re going to survive.”
  7. There is something acting a lot like a carbon price in our economy and it is called risk: The worst possible outcome, economically, is that governments around the world wait too long to implement policies that gradually reduce carbon emissions.
    • HESTA, an industry superannuation fund with assets totalling $67 billion, is trying to reduce its exposure to chaos, according to the fund's former head of impact, Mary Delahunty. "We've been doing scenario analysis across the portfolio for a number of years," she said. The scenario analysis is meant to find out what will happen to that $67 billion portfolio under different potential futures where different actions are taken to combat climate change.
    • "One of the most interesting outcomes of the scenario analysis was that the risk of a disorderly transition, or a sharp policy change, was the greatest risk to our members," she said. In other words, the worst possible outcome, economically, is that the Australian government and its counterparts overseas wait too long to implement policies that gradually reduce carbon emissions in time to prevent catastrophic warming.
  8. The deceptively simple plan to replenish California’s groundwater: The state pumps too much groundwater, especially during droughts. Now, it's learning to refill the overdrawn bucket. "It's the simplest math in the world," says one scientist.
    • One popular idea, which scientists are testing on the flooded grapes at Kearney, is to “recharge” overdrawn aquifers with water that would otherwise flow to the sea unused—the torrential precipitation that often comes during winter, for example, when farmers don’t need it. Farmers and water managers alike are trying to capture some of those precious pulses by intentionally flooding farm fields, wetlands, and other key places. Letting that water recharge California’s in-the-red aquifers would be a cheaper, more ecologically sensitive, and effective way to prepare for drought, proponents argue, than building more dams and reservoirs.
    • Don Cameron has been thinking for decades about how to get water back underground. Cameron has managed Terranova Ranch, a 5,500-acre farm in the San Joaquin Valley, since 1981, and he has long relied on groundwater. In the early days, that was easy: He and his team would hook up some 100-horsepower engines to wells and pump away. But over time, some wells dried up. Others had to be punched deeper. The ranch had to start running 200-horsepower engines just to keep the water flowing. It was obvious to Cameron the problem would only worsen. He worried it would put him or his neighbors out of business; water is one of farming’s non-negotiable ingredients.
    • A solution also seemed obvious. If the issue was too much water coming out of the ground, wouldn’t it be simplest to try to put some back whenever an opportunity arose? That opportunity appeared in February of 2011. After a dry year, an unexpected storm dumped snow and rain, sending a long glug of extra water down the King’s River, which snakes along the edge of Terranova Ranch. Cameron diverted some of it into a series of deep canals and ditches built in anticipation of this exact moment, set up a series of small pumps, and pumped enough water onto a field of wine grapes to flood them nearly two feet deep.
    • His neighbors were aghast, thinking there was no way the plants would survive a drowning. But Cameron’s intuition told him otherwise—the wild ancestors of grapes evolved along rivers, after all. “I was pretty damn sure they could handle having their feet wet,” he laughs. The water kept disappearing into the ground, so he just kept pumping—all the way through June, well after buds burst and leaves unfurled, for a total of 13 feet of water over the season: enough to cover a football field to well above the field-goal crossbar.
    • The grapes survived just fine. The bigger value of the experiment, though, was to pique others' interest. Cameron talked about his experiment constantly, hosting taco-truck talks at the farm and evangelizing the idea to scientists, policymakers, and farmers alike.
    • Like Cameron, other farmers found their wells running dry. Entire communities started to hear their pumps sputter. In some places the ground has sank more than 20 feet because its underbelly was drained of water.
    • There are really only two ways to stop emptying a groundwater bucket, explains Alvar Escriva-Bou of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC): draw less water, or fill the bucket back up. “It’s the simplest math in the world,” says Rosemary Knight, a geologist at Stanford University.
    • “The water cycle wants to operate the way it’s done for millennia. But our institutions have sliced and diced it to the point where it’s become dysfunctional,” Guivetchi says. Restoring more of the natural flood cycle to refill aquifers is something that many groups in the state agree on. The challenge, says Guivetchi, is how to get it done, not on a few hundred acres, as at Terranova Ranch, but likely on many thousands.
    • Cameron was years ahead. In the 1990s, preparing for his flood experiment, he built a big ditch at the edge of the property to hold the extra water. (“We didn’t get permits or anything, and I should probably be in jail, but we just had to try it,” he says.) After his success in 2011, he decided to build an even bigger system—in coordination this time with county and state governments and his neighbors and sized for a further climate-changed world.


  1. The Utility of White-Hot Rage: Living in the era of climate change might make us feel guilt, or grief, or anger. How do those who think about these problems every day keep going? (By Emma Marris)
    • A poll conducted by Yale and George Mason University researchers in September found that 70 percent of Americans are worried about climate change, and 47 percent describe themselves as “angry” about it. I’m in both of those groups. In my 15 years as an environmental journalist, I’ve always been able to ground myself on a bedrock optimism that humanity will get its act together. Lately, though, as the pandemic has dragged toward its third year, the West has continued to burn, drought has parched my part of the world, and climate action has stalled at the federal level even with Democrats in control, that has changed. I am burned out. For some people, this might manifest as fatigue, or disengagement. For me, it’s anger. On a near-daily basis, I can feel my blood sizzling in my veins.
    • Davenport has said that climate change, an ever-present crisis, causes “ambient anxiety” that raises our background levels of tension and worry. But the pandemic is also causing ambient anxiety. For people of color, racism does the same, every day. For Indigenous people, colonialism exists as a constant present-tense stressor as well. Poverty creates an immense burden of ambient anxiety. Many activists are thus working under “ambient” stress levels that no amount of coping techniques can neutralize. The paradox of working toward a just, truly sustainable society is that you have to do it in an unjust, toxic one that makes both the fight and just living needlessly hard.
    • Anger can fuel action, but we can’t live on rage alone. I asked everyone I interviewed for this story to tell me about a moment of happiness or joy they had experienced recently. Myhre talked about the physical pleasure of skiing. For Chungyalpa, it was watching some dogs “just gamboling in the snow.” For Davenport, it was spending time with her grandchildren. For Heglar, it was walking the streets of New Orleans shortly after moving there this year. “I was so giddy and euphoric to be here,” she said. In all of these cases, joy was felt not as a sense of contentment with the overall state of things, because the overall state of things is messed up. But even in crisis, joy presents itself as sparkling moments, experienced as what Davenport calls “a visceral quality of aliveness.” Allowing ourselves to be energized by these moments without guilt is important. No one is going to fix climate change by being bummed about it 24 hours a day. That’s not how it works.
    • We should accept joy when it comes and enjoy it without a particle of guilt. But if we don’t feel a lot of overall hope right now, that’s okay. We don’t need optimism or hope to keep showing up for climate work. We can do it out of pure spite if we need to until our optimism returns. Even as I work on my own burnout, I plan to stay mad.


  1. Follow the global youth protests this week: Demonstrations are planned for Friday, so we looked at what drives the movement. Here are four takeaways.
    • Here’s what I find most revealing about this generation of climate activists:
      1. They distrust government
      2. In the U.S., they are mostly female and white
      3. Street protests are only one of their tactics
      4. They are worried about the state of democracy


  1. Hot poles: Antarctica, Arctic 70 and 50 degrees above normal: Earth’s poles are undergoing simultaneous freakish extreme heat with parts of Antarctica more than 70 degrees (40 degrees Celsius) warmer than average and areas of the Arctic more than 50 degrees (30 degrees Celsius) warmer than average.
    • Weather stations in Antarctica shattered records Friday as the region neared autumn. The two-mile high (3,234 meters) Concordia station was at 10 degrees (-12.2 degrees Celsius),which is about 70 degrees warmer than average, while the even higher Vostok station hit a shade above 0 degrees (-17.7 degrees Celsius), beating its all-time record by about 27 degrees (15 degrees Celsius), according to a tweet from extreme weather record tracker Maximiliano Herrera.
    • “They are opposite seasons. You don’t see the north and the south (poles) both melting at the same time,” Meier told The Associated Press Friday evening. “It’s definitely an unusual occurrence.” “It’s pretty stunning,” Meier added. “Wow. I have never seen anything like this in the Antarctic,” said University of Colorado ice scientist Ted Scambos, who returned recently from an expedition to the continent. “Not a good sign when you see that sort of thing happen,” said University of Wisconsin meteorologist Matthew Lazzara.
    • [ael: then this — WTF?]: Both Lazzara and Meier said what happened in Antarctica is probably just a random weather event and not a sign of climate change. But if it happens again or repeatedly then it might be something to worry about and part of global warming, they said.
    • The Antarctic continent as a whole on Friday was about 8.6 degrees (4.8 degrees Celsius) warmer than a baseline temperature between 1979 and 2000, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer, based on U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration weather models. That 8-degree heating over an already warmed-up average is unusual, think of it as if the entire United States was 8 degrees hotter than normal, Meier said.
    • At the same time, on Friday the Arctic as a whole was 6 degrees (3.3 degrees) warmer than the 1979 to 2000 average.
    • What makes the Antarctic warming really weird is that the southern continent — except for its vulnerable peninsula which is warming quickly and losing ice rapidly — has not been warming much, especially when compared to the rest of the globe, Meier said.
    • [ael: Related] Heatwaves at both of Earth’s poles alarm climate scientists: Antarctic areas reach 40C above normal at same time as north pole regions hit 30C above usual levels
      • Scientists warned that the events unfolding were “historic”, “unprecedented” and “dramatic”. Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Centre at Pennsylvania State University, said the extreme weather being recorded was exceeding predictions to a worrying extent. “The warming of the Arctic and Antarctic is cause for concern, and the increase in extreme weather events – of which these are an example – is a cause for concern as well,” he said. “The models have done a good job projecting the overall warming, but we’ve argued that extreme events are exceeding model projections. These events drive home the urgency of action.”
      • Mark Maslin, professor of earth system science at University College London, said: “I and colleagues were shocked by the number and severity of the extreme weather events in 2021 – which were unexpected at a warming of 1.2C. Now we have record temperatures in the Arctic which, for me, show we have entered a new extreme phase of climate change much earlier than we had expected.”
      • James Hansen, former NASA chief scientist and one of the first to warn governments of global heating more than three decades ago, told the Guardian the heating of the poles was “concerning” and that sea ice in the Arctic this year could shrink far enough to break a decade-old record on its lowest extent. “The average sea ice thickness has been declining, so it’s ripe for large sea ice loss,” he warned. “The effect of reduced sea ice cover is to amplify Earth’s energy imbalance that’s caused by increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) — the GHGs reduce outgoing heat radiation, thus causing a net imbalance that’s heating the planet. “Reduced sea ice cover increases the planetary energy imbalance, as a dark ocean reflects less sunlight than sea ice does.”
  2. My lesson from successful scientists: success can be learnt: High achievers are united in their passion for science, perseverance, hard work and lifelong learning, says Ruth Gotian.
    • She has pinpointed four key factors in high achievers: intrinsic motivation, perseverance, continuous informal learning and a strong foundation that isn’t unsettled by success.
    • intrinsic motivation: High achievers have worked out their ‘why’ — why they chose a particular profession, or a particular problem to solve. Many told me that they would pursue their discipline even if they weren’t paid to do so. When I asked Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, how he chooses which projects to focus on, he told me that he’s drawn to things that he finds important, not just interesting. This sentiment was echoed among all the physician-scientists, astronauts and senior government officials whom I interviewed.
    • Perseverance: Talent will get you only so far. High achievers, having found their intrinsic motivation, outwork everyone. By this, I don’t necessarily mean they put in more hours than anyone else; often they work smarter, not just harder. Sometimes, long days are necessary, especially before grant deadlines. But high achievers try not to make that a habit, ensuring that they have time off to recharge and let their minds wander. While working, they use the hours when they’re most focused for their more cognitive tasks, such as writing grants or manuscripts — leaving more passive activities, such as Zoom meetings and e-mails, for when they’re less focused. They work to achieve a state of flow, where they are so focused on the task before them that time seems to stand still.
    • Strong foundation: High achievers do not rest on their laurels. What worked for them early on in their careers is what they continue with later, even after their accolades. Every year, Twitter goes viral with photos of scientists who, hours earlier, were notified that they had won a Nobel prize — but who, later in the day, teach a class, hold a laboratory meeting or submit another grant application.
    • Continuous informal learning: Despite their advanced degrees and commendations, the high achievers made a point of continuing their learning through informal means. For many of them, classroom learning is not practical, but they learn continuously by reading books, articles and blogs, listening to podcasts, watching videos and talking to others — casting a wide net to include people at every level and from a variety of industries.
  3. Enbridge crews punctured three aquifers during Line 3 oil pipeline construction, DNR says: The damage to groundwater resources was more extensive than previously disclosed.
    • Combined, the punctures led to nearly 300 million gallons of groundwater flowing to the surface, with the most serious breach occurring near the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Reservation in St. Louis County. That rupture alone discharged more than 200 million gallons of groundwater — and it continues to flow out.
    • The first breach occurred during the winter of 2021 at a major pipeline junction near Clearbrook, Minn., although regulators did not learn about it for several months. About 50 million gallons of groundwater flowed out from that rupture, endangering a rare wetland area nearby called a calcareous fen. Enbridge has paid more than $3.32 million related to the first violation and the State Attorney General's Office has been reviewing the incident for potential prosecution. The company announced in January, about one year after crews first punctured the aquifer, that it had finally stopped the flow of groundwater at that site.
    • The DNR learned about a second breach Aug. 5, the agency said Monday. The breach occurred a few days earlier near LaSalle Creek in Hubbard County and discharged an estimated 9.8 million gallons of groundwater. That flow also has been stopped, the DNR said.
    • Pipeline opponents, including environmental groups and scientists, expressed frustration with the DNR's findings. "I'm shocked at the volume and I'm shocked that we didn't know exactly what was going on," said Frank Bibeau, a lawyer for the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. Bibeau said he thinks repeated warnings about problems doing such construction in northern Minnesota's watery landscape were ignored during contested case proceedings. "It's very, very sad to think, 'How many times do yo have to keep telling the same story?'"
    • Winona LaDuke, head of Honor the Earth and a leading Indigenous voice in the fight against the Enbridge pipeline, said it's a "shame" that the state has not prosecuted the company when hundreds of Minnesotans who demonstrated against Line 3 were arrested and charged with crimes.


  1. Dead coral found at Great Barrier Reef as widespread bleaching event unfolds: Marine park’s chief scientist says aerial surveys so far indicate bleaching worst off Townsville
    • Leading reef scientist Prof Terry Hughes said this week a sixth mass bleaching event was now unfolding on the reef, adding to events in 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017 and 2020. Dr David Wachenfeld, chief scientist at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, told Guardian Australia: “There is certainly a risk we are seeing a mass bleaching event, but we aren’t in a position to confirm that yet.
  2. Pressure mounts on Koch Industries to halt business in Russia: While hundreds of companies have paused operations, three Koch subsidiaries are still operating in the country
    • “Koch Industries is shamefully continuing to do business in Putin’s Russia and putting their profits ahead of defending democracy,” the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and Senator Ron Wyden, said in a joint statement. “As the democracies of the world make huge sacrifices to punish Russia for Putin’s illegal and vicious invasion of Ukraine, Koch Industries continues to profit off of Putin’s regime.” “It must stop,” Schumer wrote on Twitter, adding that he and Wyden were “exploring legislation to add Russia to existing laws denying foreign tax credits for taxes paid to North Korea & Syria.”
    • [ael: Koch responds, as they always do:] “Koch company Guardian Industries operates two glass manufacturing facilities in Russia that employ about 600 people. We have no other physical assets in Russia, and outside of Guardian, employ 15 individuals in the country. While Guardian’s business in Russia is a very small part of Koch, we will not walk away from our employees there or hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them (which is what the Wall Street Journal has reported they would do). Doing so would only put our employees there at greater risk and do more harm than good,” he wrote.
    • [ael: meanwhile, back at the real Koch:] Popular Information also revealed last week that a network of pundits and groups funded by Koch has been publicly advocating against imposing economic sanctions on Russia.
  3. It’s 70 degrees warmer than normal in eastern Antarctica. Scientists are flabbergasted. ‘This event is completely unprecedented and upended our expectations about the Antarctic climate system,’ one expert said
    • The coldest location on the planet has experienced an episode of warm weather this week unlike any ever observed, with temperatures over the eastern Antarctic ice sheet soaring 50 to 90 degrees above normal. The warmth has smashed records and shocked scientists.
    • “This event is completely unprecedented and upended our expectations about the Antarctic climate system,” said Jonathan Wille, a researcher studying polar meteorology at Université Grenoble Alpes in France, in an email. “Antarctic climatology has been rewritten,” tweeted Stefano Di Battista, a researcher who has published studies on Antarctic temperatures. He added that such temperature anomalies would have been considered “impossible” and “unthinkable” before they actually occurred.
    • The average high temperature in Vostok — at the center of the eastern ice sheet — is around minus-63 (minus-53 Celsius) in March. But on Friday, the temperature leaped to zero (minus-17.7 Celsius), the warmest it’s been there during March since record keeping began 65 years ago. It broke the previous monthly record by a staggering 27 degrees (15 Celsius). “In about 65 record years in Vostok, between March and October, values ​​above -30°C were never observed,” wrote Di Battista in an email.
    • Vostok, a Russian meteorological observatory, is about 808 miles from the South Pole and sits 11,444 feet above sea level. It’s famous for holding the lowest temperature ever observed on Earth: minus-128.6 degrees (minus-89.2 Celsius), set on July 21, 1983. Temperatures running at least 50 degrees (32 Celsius) above normal have expanded over vast portions of eastern Antarctica from the Adélie Coast through much of the eastern ice sheet’s interior. Some computer model simulations and observations suggest temperatures may have even climbed up to 90 degrees (50 Celsius) above normal in a few areas.
    • The moisture from the storm diffused and spread over the interior of the continent. However, a strong blocking high pressure system or “heat dome,” moved in over east Antarctica, preventing the moisture from escaping. The heat dome was exceptionally intense, five standard deviations above normal.
    • [ael: And this!] Temperatures are known to vary wildly over Antarctica, and massive swings are common. Contrasting with this warm spell over eastern Antarctica, the South Pole observed just observed its coldest April to September period on record last year, with an average temperature of minus-78 degrees (minus-61 Celsius).
    • [ael: But wait, there's more!] But shortly after that historic bout of cold, the sea ice extent surrounding the continent shrunk to its smallest extent just last month.
    • [ael: Probably all unconnected….]

3/18/2022 — 6888 Day

  1. Cincinnati plans to buy electric police cars, install neighborhood charging stations:
    • The plan, announced Thursday morning by Mayor Aftab Pureval and Councilwoman Meeka Owens, calls for the city fleet to be fully comprised of electric vehicles, installing electric vehicle charging stations in neighborhoods and along highways and drafting an updated version of the Green Cincinnati Plan, first announced in 2008.
    • Cincinnati City Council previously pledged Cincinnati would be powered 100% by renewable energy 2035. The city is in the midst of building the largest municipal solar field in the country to provide that clean, renewable energy. The solar panel field in Highland County also will provide about 25% of the power to 80,000 homes that have opted-in to get renewable energy.
  2. ‘Long-overdue’: all-Black, female WWII battalion to receive Congressional Gold Medal: Known as the ‘six triple eight’, battalion was only group of African American women to serve overseas during second world war
    • The 6888th central post directory battalion, also known as the “six triple eight” was the only group of African American women to serve overseas during second world war. Created in 1944, it included 824 enlisted Black women and 31 officers from the women’s army corps, the army service forces and the army air forces.
    • In Europe, the battalion sorted and routed mail for over 4 million American service members and civilians. In addition to serving as a role model to generations of Black women who joined the military afterwards, it was also credited with solving a growing mail crisis due to a shortage of postal officers.
    • Because the warehouse windows were blacked out to prevent light from showing during nighttime air raids, the women often had to sift through the mail in dimly lit environments, with their units organized into three separate eight-hour shifts. During winters, the women wore long johns and extra layers of clothing beneath their coats in the unheated warehouses. The battalion eventually created a new mail tracking system and processed 65,000 pieces of mail per shift. Within three months, the women cleared the six-month backlog of 17m pieces of mail.
    • Despite their efforts, the women faced racist and sexist treatment, including “hostility and rumors impugning their character spread by both white and Black male soldiers who resented the fact that Black women were allowed in the army”, according to the US Army Center of Military History. At one point, a general criticized the unit commander, Maj Charity Adams, and threatened to give her command to a white officer. “Over my dead body, sir,” Adams reportedly responded.
    • Out of the 850 members in the unit, only six are still alive. “We helped each other. We worked with each other,” retired Maj Fanny Griffin McClendon, who served as a battalion supervisor, told ABC News. McClendon, who is now 101 years old, was taken by surprise when she learned that her battalion was going to be honored. “It never occurred to me that we would even be considered for a medal of any kind,” she said.
    • “Facing both racism and sexism in a warzone, these women sorted millions of pieces of mail, closing massive mail backlogs, and ensuring service members received letters from their loved ones. A Congressional Gold Medal is only fitting for these veterans who received little recognition for their service after returning home,” Moore said.

3/17/2022 — Sue Rock dies….

  1. Once again, America is in denial about signs of a fresh Covid wave (Eric Topol): In the past couple of weeks, UK, Germany, France and others are experiencing a new wave. The US should get ready
    • As with the first five warnings from the UK and Europe, the United States did not take heed. Instead of proactively gearing up with non-pharmaceutical interventions (masks, quality of masks, distancing, air filtration, ventilation, aggressive testing, etc.), it just reacted to the surges when they were manifest. Now we are at a point with very low vaccination and booster rates, only 64% of the populations has had two shots, and 29% three shots. That puts the United States at 65th and 70th in the world ranking of countries, respectively.
  2. Australian researchers claim ‘giant leap’ in technology to produce affordable renewable hydrogen: Morrison government’s hydrogen stretch goal of $2 a kilogram to make the fuel competitive could be reached by 2025, Hysata says
    • The achievement, published in the peer-reviewed Nature Communication journal today, could see the Morrison government’s so-called hydrogen stretch goal of $2 a kilogram to make the fuel competitive reached as soon as 2025, the Hysata chief executive, Paul Barrett, said. “We’ve gone from 75% [efficiency] to 95% – it’s really a giant leap for the electrolysis industry,” Barrett said.
    • “What we did differently was just to start completely over and to think about it from a very high level,” Swiegers said. “Everyone else was looking at improving materials or an existing design.”
      Illustration: Hysata
    • With the help of two PhD researchers – Aaron Hodges and Anh Linh Hoang – the small team used readily available materials to develop a thin sponge-like membrane to suck the water up between two electrodes. The avoidance of creating bubbles was also key. “So a combination of that wicking membrane and that bubble-free operation resulted in inherently low resistance,” Barrett said. Hydrogen could be produced using 41.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity per kilogram.
    • [ael: the article is open access]
  3. Recent Megafire Smoke Columns Have Reached the Stratosphere, Threatening Earth’s Ozone Shield: New research warns that wildfire emissions could unravel progress made under the Montreal Protocol to shrink atmospheric ozone holes.
    • Close study of Australia’s intense Black Summer fires in late 2019 and early 2020 suggests the smoke they emitted was a “tremendous kick” to the atmosphere, depleting the ozone layer by 1 percent, said MIT scientist Susan Solomon. “The ozone layer protects all life on the planet from ultraviolet radiation,” said Solomon, who was one of the pioneers in explaining how pollution depletes ozone while she was a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “You know that, if you’ve ever been sunburned, it increases the risk of skin cancer and eye damage.”
    • The impacts of declining atmospheric ozone are not isolated to the poles. “What worries me is, it’s not just Antarctica,” she said. “If you talk about Australia, where these fires were, we see something like a 5 to 10 percent decrease in ozone over mid-latitude locations, and every 1 percent loss gives you a 2 percent increase in skin cancer.”
    • The Black Summer fires’ depletion of 1 percent of atmospheric ozone, as documented by Solomon and other scientists in a Feb. 28 study in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, may seem like a small number, she said, but “it’s significant to me because it’s comparable to the 1 percent per decade progress that world has achieved with the Montreal Protocol.”
    • She said that, while the wildfire smoke’s impacts in the stratosphere don’t last anywhere as long as those from industrial chemical pollutants, the concerns remain because extreme wildfire activity is expected to increase by 30 percent by 2050 and 50 percent by the end of this century.
    • Another new study on wildfire smoke and ozone published today in Science suggests that the 1 percent loss shown in Solomon’s research may be the far lower limit of what could be expected in ozone depletion from wildfire smoke in the stratosphere, Solomon said. That research, led by Peter Bernath of Waterloo University, analyzed data from super-sensitive optical instruments from a Canadian satellite that peers at the upper edge of the planet’s atmosphere against a sunlit backdrop to measure chemical reactions involving smoke particles and atmospheric gases. By studying 44 types of particles, the researchers may be able to at least partly determine the future impact of wildfire smoke on ozone.
    • “In a nutshell,” Bernath said, “the chlorine chemistry in particular is altered. The smoke converts various chlorine-based molecules into more active compounds that end up destroying ozone. These megafires are unique in that they punch right into the stratosphere and deliver organic compounds, putting the smoke particles right where they can catalyze these harmful changes.”


  1. Toxic Nostalgia, From Putin to Trump to the Trucker Convoys: War is reshaping our world. Will we harness that urgency for climate action or succumb to a final, deadly oil and gas boom? (Naomi Klein)
    • Nostalgia for empire is what seems to drive Vladimir Putin — that and a desire to overcome the shame of punishing economic shock therapy imposed on Russia at the end of the Cold War. Nostalgia for American “greatness” is part of what drives the movement Donald Trump still leads — that and a desire to overcome the shame of having to face the villainy of white supremacy that shaped the founding of the United States and mutilates it still. Nostalgia is also what animates the Canadian truckers who occupied Ottawa for the better part of a month, wielding their red-and-white flags like a conquering army, evoking a simpler time when their consciences were undisturbed by thoughts of the bodies of Indigenous children, whose remains are still being discovered on the grounds of those genocidal institutions that once dared to call themselves “schools.”
    • This is not the warm and cozy nostalgia of fuzzily remembered childhood pleasures; it’s an enraged and annihilating nostalgia that clings to false memories of past glories against all mitigating evidence.
    • Though petrodollars underwrite these players and forces, it’s critical to understand that oil is a stand-in for a broader worldview, a cosmology deeply entwined with Manifest Destiny and the Doctrine of Discovery, which ranked human as well as nonhuman life inside a rigid hierarchy, with white Christian men at the top. Oil, in this context, is the symbol of the extractivist mindset: not only a perceived God-given right to keep extracting fossil fuels, but also the right to keep taking whatever they want, leave poison behind, and never look back.
    • We will not defeat the forces of toxic nostalgia with these weak doses of marginally less toxic nostalgia. It’s not enough to be “back”; we are in desperate need of new. The good news is that we know what it looks like to fight the forces enabling imperial aggression, right-wing pseudo-populism, and climate breakdown at the same time. It looks very much like a Green New Deal, a framework to get off fossil fuels by investing in family-supporting unionized jobs doing meaningful work, like building green affordable homes and good schools, starting with the most systematically abandoned and polluted communities first. And that requires moving away from the fantasy of limitless growth and investing in the labor of care and repair.
    • As surely as Putin is determined to reshape Eastern Europe’s post-Cold War map, this power play by the fossil fuel sector stands to reshape the energy map. The climate justice movement has won some very important battles over the last decade. It has succeeded in banning fracking in entire countries, states, and provinces; huge pipelines like Keystone XL have been blocked; so have many export terminals and various Arctic drilling forays. Indigenous leadership has played a central role in nearly every fight. And remarkably, as of this week, $40 trillion worth of endowment and pension funds at over 1,500 institutions have committed to some form of fossil fuel divestment, thanks to a decade of dogged divestment organizing.
    • We know the way out of this crisis: Ramp up the infrastructure for renewables, power homes with wind and solar, electrify our transportation systems. And because all energy sources carry ecological costs, we must also reduce demand for energy overall, through greater efficiency, more mass transit, and less wasteful overconsumption. The climate justice movement has been saying this for decades now. The problem is not that political elites have spent too much time listening to so-called environmental extremists, it’s that they have hardly listened to us at all.
    • It’s worth pausing over some of the implications. If Germany can abandon an $11 billion pipeline because it’s suddenly seen as immoral (it always was), then all fossil fuel infrastructure that violates our right to a stable climate should also be up for debate. If BP can walk away from a 20 percent stake in a Russian oil major, what investment cannot be abandoned if it is premised on the destruction of a habitable planet? And if public money can be announced to build gas terminals in the blink of an eye, then it’s not too late to fight for far more solar and wind.
    • At this late stage in the debate, much of this is well understood. The climate justice movement has won all the arguments for transformational action. What we risk losing, in the fog of war, is our nerve. Because nothing changes the subject like extreme violence, even violence that is being actively subsidized by the soaring price of oil. To prevent that from happening, we could do far worse than to take inspiration from Krakovska, who apparently told her colleagues at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in that closed-door meeting, “We will not surrender in Ukraine. And we hope the world will not surrender in building a climate-resilient future.” Her words so moved her Russian counterpart, eye witnesses reported, that he broke ranks and apologized for the actions of his government — a brief glimpse of a world looking forward, not back.


  1. These Climate Scientists Are Fed Up and Ready to Go on Strike: Evidence on global warming is piling up. Nations aren’t acting. Some researchers are asking what difference more reports will make.
    • Scientists have proved beyond doubt that climate change is transforming the planet for the worse. Yet their work has mostly failed to spur governments to address the issue. When all the signs are telling scientists that their research is not being heard, it is tragic, Dr. Glavovic said, that they just keep producing more of it. “We’ve had 26 Conference of the Parties meetings, for heaven’s sake,” he said, referring to the United Nations global warming summits. More scientific reports, another set of charts. “I mean, seriously, what difference is that going to make?”
    • It was this frustration that led Dr. Glavovic, 61, a professor at Massey University in New Zealand, and two colleagues to send a jolt recently through the normally cautious, rarefied world of environmental research. In an academic journal, they called on climate scientists to stage a mass walkout, to stop their research until nations take action on global warming.
    • Predictably, many researchers balked, calling the idea wrongheaded or worse — “a supernova of stupid,” as one put it on Twitter. But the article gets at questions that plenty of climate scientists have asked themselves lately: Is what we’re doing with our lives really making a difference? How can we get elected officials to act on the threats that we’ve so clearly identified? Do we become activists? Would we sacrifice our credibility as academics, our cool composure, by doing so?
    • For scientists of many kinds, the coronavirus pandemic has fueled the sense that scientific experts and political authorities are uneasy allies at best, that distrust and misinformation have weakened society’s capacity to work toward complex collective goals.
    • Few seem ready to do so, though many have similarly weak faith in government action. The journal Nature surveyed dozens of scientists who worked on another recent I.P.C.C. report. Sixty percent said they believed the planet would warm in this century by at least 3 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial times, much more than current international targets. A similar share said they had experienced anxiety, grief or other distress related to climate change.
    • [ael: I vote "Yes" to the tsunami of stupid: make government beg scientists to go back to work — to help them forecast what is coming. As dark things happen, perhaps they'll want to listen; at the moment, they clearly don't.]
    • Timothy F. Smith, 50, a professor of sustainability at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, said he and his colleagues had long wrestled with doubts about their work: “Is it worth continuing if we’re not having the impact that we need?” And so, in early 2020, Dr. Smith, Dr. White and Dr. Glavovic met up in the seaside town of Tairua, New Zealand. Their plan was to sketch out a joint research project. Instead, they pondered why it was so hard for any research to make a difference. They concluded that withholding that research, and halting I.P.C.C. assessments, was scientists’ best hope for prodding elected officials to act.
    • Dr. Glavovic traces his willingness to take a stand to growing up as a white South African under apartheid, a system he came to detest. In his 20s, he risked jail time by requesting to be a conscientious objector to conscription.
    • “We’re suggesting a moratorium on the science that simply documents the decline of human well-being and planetary health,” he said. “That science is not contributing to solutions.” [ael: yes, we need action!] Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard historian of science, agreed that the panel sent a “mixed message” with its assessments. “Every time the I.P.C.C. comes out with yet another report, saying yet again that the science is unequivocal,” she said. Well, then “why do we need another report?” she said.
  2. Op-Ed: We must adapt to climate change. Can we do it in ways that solve other problems too?: With dire projections from the latest IPCC report, it's time to take a "multisolving" approach to climate change and other environmental challenges.
    • [ael: Can we turn problems into solutions?]
    • The need to adapt to the climate change we can’t prevent can feel like one more emergency, one more drain on already-scarce resources. And to some extent this is true. Climate change adaptation will take hard work and real spending. But with creativity and cooperation, some of that adaptation effort can provide other benefits at the same time. That's an approach called “multisolving,” and many climate change adaptation strategies are multisolving superstars.
    • That fact points to a particularly interesting type of multisolving. Some projects can help communities prepare for climate impacts while reducing the use of fossil fuels at the same time. In a time of limited budgets this “two for the price of one” approach to climate should be a top priority.
    • Climate adaptation investments, to really qualify as multisolving, must ensure that their benefits and burdens are justly shared. This requires vigorous community participation from the beginning. Community engagement can help tackle important questions, such as: Who does the project benefit? How does the design protect against side-effects like “climate gentrification”? (That's the emerging term for what happens when communities benefiting from adaptation investments become more attractive. Property values and rents rise, and long-standing community members can be displaced.) And who will have access to the jobs created by adaptation projects?
    • The climate change adaptation task ahead of us is mammoth, and time is short. No one knows exactly how to adapt; after all, we are entering unknown climatological territory. But two simple rules can help us make the best possible decisions.
      1. The first principle is: Make every dollar count by addressing multiple problems.
      2. The second one is: Make every decision as wise as possible by listening to the voices of those who have the most at stake.
  3. Sierra Nevada snowpack disappearing after driest January-February in recorded history, third year of California drought all but inevitable: Snowpack down to 64% with no major storms on horizon as winter rainy season has only 1 month left
    • “We were so far above normal early in the winter,” said Jan Null, a meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services in Half Moon Bay. “But the rainfall season has just flat-lined. It has died.”
    • “All of this is consistent with climate model predictions that California’s precipitation will experience increasingly wild swings between wet and dry in a warming climate,” Swain said. California’s water system, which was largely built between the 1930s and 1970s, is designed for a climate that no longer exists, experts say.
  4. The Day Prince’s Guitar Wept the Loudest:
    • On March 15, 2004, George Harrison was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As part of the ceremony, an all-star band performed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Mr. Harrison’s best-known Beatles song. The group featured Tom Petty and two other members of the Heartbreakers, as well as Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Dhani Harrison (George’s son) and Prince, himself an inductee that year. Marc Mann, a guitarist with Mr. Lynne’s band, played Eric Clapton’s memorable solo from the album version of the song. But Prince, who essentially stood in the dark for most of the performance, burned the stage to the ground at the song’s end.

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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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