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Messages - vox_mundi

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Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: April 18, 2019, 03:08:53 PM »

The only place you'll see them is in animal crackers.

Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: April 18, 2019, 02:40:56 PM »
'Decades of denial': major report finds New Zealand's environment is in serious trouble

A report on the state of New Zealand’s environment has painted a bleak picture of catastrophic biodiversity loss, polluted waterways and the destructive rise of the dairy industry and urban sprawl.

Environment Aotearoa is the first major environmental report in four years, and was compiled using data from Statistics New Zealand and the environment ministry.

It presents a sobering summary of a country that is starkly different from the pristine landscape promoted in the “Pure New Zealand” marketing campaign that lures millions of tourists every year.

It found New Zealand is now considered one of the most invaded countries in the world, with 75 animal and plant species having gone extinct since human settlement. The once-vibrant bird life has fared particularly badly, with 90% of seabirds and 80% of shorebirds threatened with or at risk of extinction.

Almost two-thirds of New Zealand’s rare ecosystems are under threat of collapse, and over the last 15 years the extinction risk worsened for 86 species, compared with the conservation status of just 26 species improving in the past 10 years.


Mass deforestation: How trade fells trees in Brazil and Indonesia

... Persson and an international team of researchers have quantified how much foreign demand for commodities drives that destruction.

The study, published last week, found that 29-39 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released through deforestation is driven by international trade — with farmers felling forests to clear space for croplands, pastures and plantations that grow goods often consumed abroad.

In many rich countries, the authors wrote, the deforestation-related emissions "embodied" in imports are greater even than those generated by domestic agriculture.

Pentagon Cancels Contract for JASON Advisory Panel

In a startling blow to the system of independent science and technology advice, the Department of Defense decided not to renew its support for the JASON defense science advisory panel, it was disclosed yesterday. 

JASON performs technical studies for many agencies inside and outside of the national security bureaucracy and it is highly regarded for the quality of its work.

The JASON panel has performed studies (many of which are classified) for federal agencies including the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office, as well as the Census Bureau and the Department of Health and Human Services.

So why is the Pentagon threatening its future?

... So far, those who do know are not talking. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Research and Engineering) “would not answer any questions or discuss the matter in any way whatsoever.”

... The Pentagon move to cancel the JASON contract appears to be part of a larger trend by federal agencies to limit independent scientific and technical advice. As noted by Rep. Cooper at yesterday’s hearing, the Navy also lately terminated its longstanding Naval Research Advisory Committee.


Navy Torpedoes Scientific Advisory Group

This week the U.S. Navy abruptly terminated its own scientific advisory group, depriving the service of a source of internal critique and evaluation.

The Naval Research Advisory Committee (NRAC) was established by legislation in 1946 and provided science and technology advice to the Navy for the past 73 years. Now it’s gone.

The decision to disestablish the Committee was announced in a March 29 Federal Register notice, which did not provide any justification for eliminating it. Phone and email messages to the office of the Secretary of the Navy seeking more information were not returned. 

This will leave the Navy without an independent and objective technical advisory body, which is not in the best interests of the Navy or the nation,” said a Navy scientist.

'A Walking Conflict of Interest': Ex-Oil Lobbyist Confirmed to Lead US Interior Department

Senators voted 56-41 to approve David Bernhardt’s nomination to oversee more than 500m acres of public lands and other resources, including national parks, monuments and wildlife refuges, as secretary of the embattled interior department. 

... Before joining the administration, Bernhardt worked at a Washington law and lobbying firm on behalf of mining companies, oil and gas giants, a politically powerful western water agency and other groups that have business before the interior department.

“David Bernhardt is a walking conflict of interest who is selling out our public lands to his former clients in the fossil fuel industry,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.

“Like Ryan Zinke before him, Bernhardt is clearly more interested in doing favors for his corporate polluting friends than in responsibly managing our shared public spaces.

The rest / Re: Arctic Café
« on: April 11, 2019, 01:31:44 AM »
Coffee Beans Not Vital for Human Survival, Switzerland Decides

Switzerland has announced plans to abolish the emergency stockpiling of coffee, a strategy that has been in place for decades, saying the beans are not vital for human survival – though opposition to the proposal is brewing.

This system of emergency reserves was established between the first and second world wars as Switzerland prepared for potential shortages in case of war, natural disaster or epidemics.

According to the plan released for public comment, coffee stockpiling obligations will expire by the end of 2022, with companies free to draw down what they have in their warehouses.

... “The Federal Office for National Economic Supply has concluded coffee ... is not essential for life,” the government said. “Coffee has almost no calories and subsequently does not contribute, from the physiological perspective, to safeguarding nutrition.”

I beg to differ.  ;)

Glaciers Crumble and Sea Levels Rise In This New Weather Channel Immersive Mixed Reality Clip

The scene is from The Weather Channel’s latest mixed reality segment, which connects the flooding of tomorrow to the melting glaciers and sea level rise of today.

Arctic sea ice / Re: Are 3 dimensions better than 2?
« on: April 06, 2019, 09:27:19 PM »
As Wolfgang Pauli, Viggy, Jim Hunt and many others have observed: "Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig; es ist nicht einmal falsch!" 

See also: Gish Gallop

Consequences / Re: Decline in insect populations
« on: April 03, 2019, 09:33:32 PM »
German State to Accept Environmentalists' Bee-Saving Plan

The German state of Bavaria is set to accept in large part a plan by environmentalists to save bees and protect biodiversity, averting a referendum on the issue.

In February, backers of the plan collected nearly 1.75 million signatures, over 18% of the region's electorate and enough to force a vote. It would set aside more space to protect imperiled insects and banish many pesticides from a third of Bavaria's agricultural land. ... there would be payments to farmers to cushion the impact.

Arctic sea ice / Re: Are 3 dimensions better than 2?
« on: April 03, 2019, 05:09:29 PM »
As I, with reluctance and sadness, have just resigned from "The Flat Earth Society", I have no choice but to vote for 3 dimensions.

What about the 4th dimension, or even a few more in parallel universes?

4th dimension and alternate realities are covered here:,1578.msg192698.html#msg192698

Arctic sea ice / Re: Are 3 dimensions better than 2?
« on: April 03, 2019, 02:10:02 PM »
A binary poll might illuminate the consensus.

Glaciers / Re: Icelandic Glaciers
« on: April 02, 2019, 01:30:29 AM »
Tourists Flee Wave from Glacier Collapse

A large wave caused by a glacier calving - the natural process where a large section of ice breaks away - has been caught on camera in Iceland.

Tourists visiting the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, who were accompanied by an expert guide, can be seen running to safety as the wave approaches the shore.ðamerkurjökull

The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: April 01, 2019, 02:35:37 AM »
Meteor Lights Up the Night Sky Over Northern Florida

A meteor was caught on GOES Lightning Mapper (GLM) around 3:52Z or 11:52 PM ET!

The National Weather Service said it heard unconfirmed reports that the meteor landed near Perry, Florida, some 55 miles southeast of Tallahassee.
Zoom in on box at center right

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: March 29, 2019, 03:15:58 PM »
Climate Extremes Hitting Maize Production Could Become the New Norm by 2020

JRC scientists have simulated the effects of 1.5 °C and 2 °C temperature increases on global maize production. The study shows that, even with an increase in global temperatures of just 1.5 °C, the heat waves and severe droughts that currently occur about once every ten years could become frequent phenomena by early 2020.

Without any mitigation and adaptation efforts, this would mean that the worst production losses experienced by maize producers to date would happen with increasing frequency. With a 2 degrees C temperature increase, maize production areas would be affected by heat and drought events never experienced before. The damages would be felt by both minor and major producers. 

The crop losses will be felt in the different parts of the world at different times. The impact will be felt first by minor producers, located mostly in developing countries in tropical regions.

Europe will be hit slightly later. However, scientists estimate that, in the worst-case scenario, these impacts could occur by 2020.

Based on simulations carried out by JRC scientists, producers in Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria will be among the first in Europe to be affected by big crop losses brought about by climate extremes.

Fig 2. Maize production losses due to heat and water stress (PCSI) in the historical and future climate simulations according to the RCP8.5 emission scenario ...  Light‐orange bands indicate the period when the past worse largest losses become normal (PWLBN), that is, when the 10‐year return level production losses (estimated on the period 1980–2010) are reached by the 11‐year running mean in the simulations.

Open Access: M. Zampieri et al. When Will Current Climate Extremes Affecting Maize Production Become the Norm?, Earth's Future (2019)

EU Adaptation Strategy:

Interior Nominee Intervened to Block Report on Endangered Species

... Fish and Wildlife Service analysis found that two of the pesticides, malathion and chlorpyrifos, were so toxic that they “jeopardize the continued existence” of more than 1,200 endangered birds, fish and other animals and plants, a conclusion that could lead to tighter restrictions on use of the chemicals.

But just before the team planned to make its findings public in November 2017, something unexpected happened: Top political appointees of the Interior Department, which oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, blocked the release and set in motion a new process intended to apply a much narrower standard to determine the risks from the pesticides.

Leading that intervention was David Bernhardt, then the deputy secretary of the interior and a former lobbyist and oil-industry lawyer. In October 2017, he abruptly summoned staff members to the first of a rapid series of meetings in which the Fish and Wildlife Service was directed to take the new approach, one that pesticide makers and users had lobbied intensively to promote.

Mr. Bernhardt is now President Trump’s nominee to become interior secretary. The Senate is scheduled to hold a hearing on his confirmation Thursday.

... A Dow spokesman said the shift in policy was unrelated to the $1 million contribution to Trump’s inauguration committee. 

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: March 26, 2019, 04:09:16 PM »
KK: Your doubts are unconvincing and self-contradictory. Somewhere between skeptic and denialist. This appears to be a trend.

... Very little flooding occurs in this region ... Flooding will always be more prevalent.

... This cloud cover, which will likely increase in a the coming years due to warming, will moderate the weather, not make it more unpredictable. (he says ... with no data to back that up)

... The region currently has more moderate winters and summers than the rest of the nation, which is unlikely to change. (strawman - the report is not talking about the rest of the nation)

... NOAA shows the number of record high temperatures during the summer in this region to be quite low, especially compared to the rest of the country;  13 last year, 7 in 2016, and none in 2015 or 17. (again with the strawman  - the report is not talking about the rest of the nation)


From the Report Executive Summary:

... Overall U.S. annual precipitation increased 4% between 1901 and 2015, but the Great Lakes region saw an almost 10% increase over this interval with more of this precipitation coming as unusually large events. In the future, precipitation will likely redistribute across the seasons. We expect wetter winters and springs, while summer precipitation should decrease by 5-15% for most of Great Lake states by 2100.

2018: Biggest Flood in 20 Years Hits Ohio Rive

...  As of Monday morning, over 200 river gauges reported levels above flood stage, primarily from the Great Lakes to eastern Texas

2019: Flooding continues on the Minnesota River

2018: Michigan Hit with Devastating Floods

... Heavy rain caused more than 60 sinkholes and washouts in Michigan.

2019: Emergency declared in part of western Michigan due to flooding

2019: Governor declares state of emergency as flooding continues across wide swath of Wisconsin

... The flooding was occurring across a wide swath of Wisconsin, with high water closing roads and schools and sending residents in some of the hardest-hit areas scurrying for higher ground.

2019: NOAA: Michigan at risk for flooding through May


Great Lakes Water Levels - Potential Flooding

... Great Lakes water levels are high and will continue to be high through most or all of 2019.  The combination of higher-than-average precipitation and lower-than-average evaporation due to high ice cover on the lakes continue to keep levels steady during a time when they might be going down.

The water level of Lake Superior is unchanged in the last month and unchanged in the last year.  The lake is 14" above average and only one inch lower than the highest March level reached in 1986.  The above average snow cover and the storm track up into the Great Lakes bring the possibility that Lake Superior will rise to record levels later this spring.

Lake Michigan/Huron is up 1" in the last month, up 2" in the last year and is now 21" above the March average.  Lake Erie is up 2" in the last month, up 1" in the last year and is now 22" above the century average for March.  Lake Ontario is up 4" in the last month, up 2" in the last year and is now 13" above the century average for March.

Antarctica / Re: What's new in Antarctica ?
« on: March 25, 2019, 09:49:14 PM »
Antarctic Snowfall Dominated By a Few Extreme Snowstorms

... Published this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the study analysed daily Antarctic snowfall data starting in the 1970s. It reveals how the most extreme 10 percent of snowfall events account for up to 60 percent of annual snowfall in some places, and are the result of a few large storms that develop over the Southern Ocean.

In one particular case, 44 percent of annual snowfall occurred in a single day. Understanding the significance of these events is critical for scientists interpreting Antarctica's past, as well as predicting how our climate may behave in future.

... "They are often short-lived events, which arrive suddenly and deposit a large fraction of the year's snowfall. If you are an ice core scientist trying to decipher messages from our past climate, and predict the future, knowing about these extreme weather events can be the missing part of the jigsaw." ...

Open Access: John Turner et al. The Dominant Role of Extreme Precipitation Events in Antarctic Snowfall Variability, Geophysical Research Letters (2019)


Cold Water Currently Slowing Fastest Greenland Glacier

A major Greenland glacier that was one of the fastest shrinking ice and snow masses on Earth is growing again, a new NASA study finds.

The Jakobshavn glacier around 2012 was retreating about 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) and thinning nearly 130 feet (almost 40 meters) annually. But it started growing again at about the same rate in the past two years, according to a study in Monday's Nature Geoscience . Study authors and outside scientists think this is temporary.

A natural cyclical cooling of North Atlantic waters likely caused the glacier to reverse course, said study lead author Ala Khazendar, a NASA glaciologist on the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project. Khazendar and colleagues say this coincides with a flip of the North Atlantic Oscillation—a natural and temporary cooling and warming of parts of the ocean that is like a distant cousin to El Nino in the Pacific.

The water in Disko Bay, where Jakobshavn hits the ocean, is about 3.6 degrees cooler (2 degrees Celsius) than a few years ago, study authors said.

While this is "good news" on a temporary basis, this is bad news on the long term because it tells scientists that ocean temperature is a bigger player in glacier retreats and advances than previously thought, said NASA climate scientist Josh Willis, a study co-author. Over the decades the water has been and will be warming from man-made climate change, he said, noting that about 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases goes into the oceans.

"In the long run we'll probably have to raise our predictions of sea level rise again," Willis said.

Interruption of two decades of Jakobshavn Isbrae acceleration and thinning as regional ocean cools, Nature Geoscience (2019)

Consequences / Re: Floods
« on: March 25, 2019, 01:40:29 AM »
"If this pattern persists, it may signal a larger problem,"

No shit. Guess what, Sherlock, it's gonna not only persist, but get worse.
My tax dollars at play.


Marine Commandant Memo Adds Billions to DoD’s Growing Weather Cleanup

.... The Pentagon is looking at a growing list of bases that have been damaged or largely wiped out over the past six months due to extreme weather events. Joining the Marine Corps' Lejeune $3.6 billion price tag is the $5 billion the Air Force estimates it will take to repair Tyndall Air Base in Florida after it was walloped by Hurricane Michael’s 155-mile-per-hour winds last fall.

That $8.6 billion in repair work will likely push past the $10 billion mark once estimates come in from the historic flooding at Offutt Air Base in Nebraska, home of Strategic Command, which is currently 30 percent underwater and will need to repair or replace dozens of buildings, roads, and its main runway.

This unprecedented damage at three bases has raised alarm bells over how ready the Pentagon is to deal with climate change, and how it affects operations and readiness.

“DoD can’t count on 500-year storms coming every 500 years any more,” John Conger, director of Center for Climate and Security, and a former deputy comptroller at the Pentagon, told me.

Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: March 23, 2019, 04:19:57 PM »
New Fire Erupts at Deer Park Plant as Leaking Toxins Close Ship Channel

Friday brought a bout of deja vu to the Houston Ship Channel, where for the sixth consecutive day firefighters battled a massive chemical fire that has so far burned 11 storage tanks at Intercontinental Terminals Company.

A day ITC hoped would bring no surprises as the company carefully drained flammable compounds from exposed 80,000-barrel tanks devolved into a series of emergencies that exposed new dangers. Around noon, a wall surrounding the tank farm breached, increasing the risk that airborne and liquid toxins would be released and forcing a portion of the Ship Channel to close.

Three hours later, the fire re-ignited in at least two locations, sending familiar smoke into the sky.

“People are scared. I’m scared,” said Jennifer Tijerina of Pasadena, as she held her 10-month-old boy, Sammy, on her hip. “Just information and reassurance would’ve been nice.”

Jennifer Tijerina’s husband, Sam, said he was frustrated by the amount of inaccurate social media posts, which residents often turn to when official sources offer little.

An ITC spokesman said that because the Friday reading was “localized,” there was no need for a public notice or shelter-in-place order.


1,000 Locals Reportedly Seek Treatment After Multi-Day Fire at Houston Chemical Facility

Roughly 1,000 people sought treatment at a pop-up treatment center for symptoms including nausea, headaches, and respiratory problems after Intercontinental Terminals Co.’s (ITC) chemical storage facility in Deer Park, Houston caught fire this week, Bloomberg reported on Friday, with at least 15 cases dubbed serious enough to warrant a transfer to local emergency rooms.

Environmental Protection Agency National Air Toxics Assessment data shows the communities surrounding the ITC facility in Deer Park such as Manchester, Harrisburg, Meadowbrook, and Allendale already face some of the highest cancer risks in Houston from ethylene oxide emissions. The ITC facility in question has, since 2003, usually experienced at least three unauthorized emissions of air contaminants a year.   

Consequences / Re: Floods
« on: March 23, 2019, 01:00:48 AM »
Flooding's National Security Risk

In just the past 12 months, Nebraska floods, Carolina and Florida hurricanes and California wildfires have put military installations in peril, ravaging buildings and doing billions in damage.   

This is not a far off threat for the Pentagon to consider, and it's certain to get more challenging as the climate continues to warm, seas rise, and stronger and wetter storms strike.

... Retired Rear Adm. David W. Titley told the AP that Defense Department officials “by and large know what they need to do, but it’s very hard for them to do. White House dynamics are the White House does not want to hear about it."

“We probably do need some walls — but they’re probably levees," Titley said.


Flooding Impairs Drinking Water Treatment for Kansas City, Missouri   

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Reuters) - Record flooding along the Missouri River has impaired treatment of drinking supplies in Kansas City, raising health risks for infants, the elderly and other people with compromised immune systems, the municipal water service warned on Saturday.

The public health advisory came as utility crews struggled to replace broken pumps at a wastewater treatment plant submerged by floodwaters about 30 miles upstream in Leavenworth, Kansas, a town of 35,000 on the river's west bank.

The KC Water utility, which serves 170,000 mostly residential customers in Kansas City, Missouri, with water drawn from the river, said it had failed to meet "enhanced treatment technique standards."

Testing showed excessive levels of turbidity, the presence of fine particles in the water that can carry bacteria, viruses and parasites including Cryptosporidium, which can cause diarrhea.


Meanwhile, in Mozambique, they've had no clean water or food for five days and  they're drinking from puddles. Cholera has already been detected.

Tall Ice-Cliffs Trigger Big Calving Events—and Fast Sea-Level Rise

... Although much calving occurs when the ocean melts the front of the ice, and ice cliff above falls down, a new study presents another method of calving: slumping. And this process could break off much larger chunks of ice at a quicker rate.

... the research team noted that features on Helheim glacier are typical of what you might see in a slump-prone terrestrial landscape and they wondered if ice might suffer the same fate. "You've got a crevasse that serves as a head scarp and then you've got the stresses [within the ice] maximized down at the water level," he says.

To test if slumping occurs on ice cliffs, the team monitored Helheim glacier during a calving event, using real-aperture terrestrial radar interferometery. They measured speed, position, and motion of the calving ice. The researchers observed an ice-flow acceleration just before an initial slump, followed by a rotating, full ice-thickness calving of the glacier—including the entire remaining ice-cliff, reaching both above and below the water line.

Removing the weight of the upper ice by slumping encourages the underlying ice to pop upward. "Because it's still attached at the back, it's going to rotate a little bit," says Alley. The rotation causes a crack to form at the bottom of the glacier as the ice flexes. In turn, the crack can weaken the ice, creating a large calving event—all triggered by the initial slump on top of the ice cliff. ...

... With slumping, the calving occurs without waiting for the melt. "We'll go slump... basal crevasse... boom," he says, noting that when the calving happens it will take the 100 meters of ice above the water—and the 900 meters below the water—very quickly.

And 1000 meters of ice calving at once isn't the limit. Alley says that in some places in Antarctica, the glacial ice bed can be 1500 to 2000 meters below sea level, creating a much taller cliff above water. He says the worry is that taller cliffs are even more susceptible to slumping. "The scary thing is that if pieces of west Antarctica start doing what Helheim is doing, then over the next hundred years, models indicate that we get rapid sea level rise at rates that surpass those predicted," says Alley. 

Byron R. Parizek et al. Ice-cliff failure via retrogressive slumping, Geology (2019)

Trump EPA Science Advisers Push Doubt About Air Pollution Health Risks

The new advisers include industry allies and consultants with ties to the fossil fuel, tobacco and chemical industries.

For two years, the Trump administration has been planting seeds of change in the Environmental Protection Agency—installing allies of regulated industries onto its elite panels of science advisers. That effort now has borne fruit in dramatic fashion.

The EPA's new science advisers, sweeping aside decades of research on the grave health risks of fine particle air pollution, have launched a drive to force the agency to give greater weight to a handful of contrarian studies that dispute the harmful effects of soot.

The latest scientific dispute centers around the EPA's draft assessment of the science on particulate matter (PM), a comprehensive review that the agency is required by law to conduct every few years to update the state of the science on several key pollutants. EPA released its draft review last fall.

For the first time, the EPA concluded that the evidence was strong enough to show a "likely" causal relationship between long-term PM2.5 exposure and cancer, as well as nervous system effects. The EPA concluded, as it has in the past, that there is evidence of health risks even at extremely low levels of PM exposure.

Now, in a harshly worded draft review, the Trump administration's science advisors are blasting those findings as based on "unverifiable opinions" and lacking in scientific support.

... The CASAC, now chaired by Louis Anthony "Tony" Cox, Jr., a Denver-based consultant, offers a few examples of the studies it wants to see the EPA give more weight to. Among them are studies that are authored, in fact, by Cox himself—whose clients have included the American Petroleum Institute, the tobacco industry and the chemical industry.

Other studies mentioned by the CASAC are by S. Stanley Young, a former pharmaceutical industry statistician based in Raleigh, N.C., who is an adviser to the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank that has led a years-long campaign to discredit climate science. Young is now also an EPA science adviser.

The CASAC also pointed to the work of James Enstrom, a Los Angeles epidemiologist who for years has questioned the health risks of particulate matter. A former tobacco industry researcher, Enstrom was a plaintiff in a 2016 lawsuit brought by the fossil fuel industry-funded Energy and Environment Legal Institute that challenged the makeup of the previous CASAC.

... "The statement is ironic given that the CASAC itself lacks necessary expertise"

In fact, the CASAC recommended that it be given access to additional technical expertise in order to complete its review of EPA science on particulate matter.


EPA Adviser is Promoting Harmful Ideas, Scientists Say

The Trump administration's reliance on industry-funded environmental specialists is again coming under fire, this time by researchers who say that Louis Anthony "Tony" Cox Jr., who leads a key Environmental Protection Agency advisory board on air pollution, is a "fringe" scientist and ideologue pushing policies detrimental to public health.

In a paper published Thursday in the journal Science, two air pollution scientists say that Cox is ignoring consensus viewpoints on the effects of smog and particulate pollution.

... Since Trump took office, his EPA has repeatedly relied upon industry-funded scientists to set policy—including allowing a University of Massachusetts professor who believes low doses of radiation and toxic chemicals are good for people to write proposed rulings.

Some say Cox is part of that pattern.

Open Access: Gretchen T. Goldman et al. Don't abandon evidence and process on air pollution policy, Science (2019)

Consequences / Re: Hurricane Season 2019
« on: March 21, 2019, 08:00:34 AM »
Cyclone Idai: Rescuers Race Against Time to Reach Survivors

Aid agencies are scrambling to reach survivors of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique as the full scale of the disaster becomes clear.

Charities say thousands of people are stranded by catastrophic flooding, clinging to roofs or stuck in trees.

In the port city of Beira aid workers say they have only two to three days of clean water left.

Mozambique President Felipe Nyusi has said more than 100,000 people are at risk. 

... "We are running out of time. People have been waiting for rescue for more than three days now. We can't pick up all the people so our priority are children, pregnant women, injured people." 

... Rescue workers, military personnel and volunteers are rushing to save thousands of Mozambicans before flood levels rise further, but with four helicopters, a handful of boats and extremely difficult conditions, have only been able to save about 413 so far.

... Trower described the difficulty of rescuing people, most of whom cannot swim, with boats, using 20-metre lines from helicopters or swimming to them in the trees. Saturday night was the most difficult because of strong currents, he said.

“Mothers were throwing their babies out from the trees to us into our boats and we were then paddling them to shore,” he said. “The water was flowing extremely fast underneath and we couldn’t get into the really strong current or we would have been washed away ourselves.”

... There is a limited window in which survivors will be able to stay alive, given that most have no access to food and clean water. 

With heavy rains still falling in the region, floodwaters are predicted to rise in the coming days, meaning more people will need to be rescued; Mozambique’s president, Filipe Nyusi, warned there could be waves up to eight metres high.

Emergency teams are shifting their focus from rescue to delivering aid and evacuating Buzi, a town of 200,000 people that is expected to be partially submerged in the coming surge.   

Copernicus Sentinal#1

... “I have never seen water rise so fast,” he said. “We were about 80km from Vilanculos where we came across this village. Everyone was in the trees and the women were throwing their babies to us. When we went back the next day, only the treetops were visible. The whole village had gone.

“There is huge urgency now to get to people. Given the size of the lake we are seeing on the satellite images we need to ask where are the people who live there.”

Science / Re: Earthquakes and climate change
« on: March 21, 2019, 04:35:45 AM »
Strange waves rippled around the world, and nobody knows why

An answer for MrVisible and Terry ...

Mysterious Planetwide Rumble May Have Come From the Largest Underwater Eruption Ever Recorded

... scientists eventually agreed that it could only have originated from a volcanic event, one involving the movement of a vast volume of magma beneath the seafloor, causing the ground there to significantly deflate.

Now, a new paper by researchers at the French Geological Survey and France’s Ecole Normale Supérieure has been uploaded to the public server EarthArXiv. Although there are plenty of unanswered questions, this first-order estimation of what happened between May and mid-November matches up with the calculations of those geoscientists that took to social media. In fact, the volume of magma involved is so huge that this is certainly one of the largest offshore volcanic events to be spotted by modern scientific instrumentation.

According to the data from the onshore GPS stations, as well as the seismic signals—including the weird November 11 event—the rumbling is definitely being generated by volcanic activity of some sort. The way the ground on Mayotte is moving implies that the seafloor off its eastern shoreline is sinking at a rate of around 0.4 inches per month. At the same time, Mayotte itself is shifting eastward at a rate of 0.63 inches per month. Both indicate something huge underground is on the move, causing some serious deflation.

The nature of these tremors suggest that the magmatic source is centered at a depth of 16 miles beneath the seafloor. In the first six months of the sequence alone, at least 0.24 cubic miles of magma has shifted around. That’s roughly equivalent to 385 Great Pyramids of Giza. 

There is even an ecological element to the story that’s currently unexplained: the emergence of lots of dead fish offshore from Mayotte.


Point of comparison:

Krakatoa threw into the air nearly 5 cubic miles (21 cubic km) of rock fragments, and large quantities of ash fell over an area of some 300,000 square miles (800,000 square km).

Donald Trump is Using Stalinist Tactics to Discredit Climate Science

The Trump administration has already purged information about climate change from government websites, gagged federal experts and attempted to end funding for climate change programmes.

Now a group of hardcore climate change deniers and contrarians linked to the administration is organising a petition in support of a new panel being set up by the National Security Council to promote an alternative official explanation for climate change.

The petition is being circulated for signature by Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a lobby group for “free market” fanatics which has become infamous for championing climate change denial. It does not disclose its sources of funding, but is known to have received money from ExxonMobil and conservative billionaires such as the Koch brothers.

Mr Ebell, who has no expertise whatsoever in climate science – or any kind of science for that matter – was a member of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team and diverted the focus of the Environmental Protection Agency towards weakening and removing policies that limit pollution by companies, including President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

The creation of the new panel of climate change deniers, and the recruitment of supporters to provide it with a veneer of legitimacy, echoes the campaign by Joseph Stalin’s regime to discredit the work of geneticists who disagreed with the disastrous pseudo-scientific theories of Trofim Lysenko.

Lysenko wrongly believed that acquired traits could be passed on by parents to their offspring. Stalin embraced lysenkoism as the basis for Soviet agricultural policy, while also denouncing and persecuting Lysenko’s scientific critics.

The Trump administration’s “climate lysenkoism” is being led by William Happer, a retired professor from Princeton University who was hired by the National Security Council in September 2018 as deputy assistant to the president and senior director for emerging technologies.

Media reports suggest that Professor Happer and his fellow propagandists will target the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which was prepared by leading researchers in the United States, and concluded last November: “The impacts of climate change are already being felt in communities across the country.”...

Consequences / Re: Conservative Scientists & its Consequences
« on: March 20, 2019, 10:38:09 AM »
Study Shows IPCC is Underselling Climate Change

A new study has revealed that the language used by the global climate change watchdog, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is overly conservative – and therefore the threats are much greater than the Panel's reports suggest.

"We found that the main message from the reports—that our society is in climate emergency—is lost by overstatement of uncertainty and gets confused among the gigabytes of information,"
says lead author Dr. Salvador Herrando-Pérez, from the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute and Australian Centre for Ancient DNA.

"The accumulation of uncertainty across all elements of the climate-change complexity means that the IPCC tends to be conservative," says co-author Professor Corey Bradshaw, Matthew Flinders Fellow in Global Ecology at Flinders University. "The certainty is in reality much higher than even the IPCC implies, and the threats are much worse."

Salvador Herrando-Pérez et al. Statistical Language Backs Conservatism in Climate-Change Assessments, BioScience (2019)

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: March 20, 2019, 09:53:14 AM »
Brazil Gunmen Shoot at Convoy Carrying Nuclear Fuel in Angra dos Reis

Gunmen have attacked a convoy of trucks carrying uranium fuel to a nuclear power plant near the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, police say.

The convoy came under attack as it drove past a community controlled by drug traffickers in Angra dos Reis, a tourist city 145km (90 miles) from Rio.

Police escorting the convoy responded and a shootout followed. ...

... Angra dos Reis Mayor Fernando Jordão urged the state's government to improve security in the region. "We have nuclear plants here. It's a sensitive area."


Capt. Marko Ramius: Ryan some things in here don't react well to bullets

- Hunt for Red October - 1990

EPA Proposes Antibiotic Spraying of Citrus Crops

... The EPA proposal would allow streptomycin to be sprayed on all citrus trees in the United States up to three times a year. Based on current commercial citrus acreage, the amount allowed to be sprayed would total more than 942,000 lb, according to Consumer Reports. The group noted that other federal agencies have taken steps to reduce overuse of antibiotics in agriculture and human medicine

The move would lead to "a 26-fold increase in the use of streptomycin in plant agriculture and could trigger antibiotic resistance that would reduce the drug's effectiveness in treating diseases in people," the consumer group warned in a news release.

The EPA’s proposal comes at a time when medical experts have warned that growing antibiotic resistance poses one of the most serious threats to public health 

What next? Bring back DDT

Arctic sea ice / Re: "Stupid" Questions :o
« on: March 18, 2019, 06:42:49 AM »
Looks like this one; it's been active the past week or so ...

Bezymianny volcano eruption news and activity updates:
Bezymianny volcano (Central Kamchatka Depression, Kamchatka) activity update: Powerful explosion to 15km (50,000ft)

Edit: The present-day Bezymianny volcano, lying next to its massive sisters Kamen and Kliuchevskoi, is a young and relatively small volcano only about 4700 years old.

Klyuchevskaya Sopka (Russian: Ключевская сопка; also known as Klyuchevskoi, Russian: Ключевской) is a stratovolcano, the highest mountain on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia and the highest active volcano of Eurasia.

Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: March 16, 2019, 04:48:32 PM »

In hindsight, he said, it might not have been a bad idea to inform the public about the worst of “dozens of spills.”

Ya think?

Just wait until the next storm that dumps 80 inches of rain instead of 50 inches...and it will happen...
Related ...,1858.msg191257.html#msg191257

Post-Hurricane Harvey, NASA Tried To Fly a Pollution-Spotting Plane over Houston… Trump's EPA Said No!

EPA Staffers Destroyed Files While Under Audit

Employees at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) destroyed records they knew were being audited, a new memo posted to a government database reveals.

According to the memo written by the agency’s inspector general (IG), the staffers worked for the EPA’s chief financial officer, Donald Trump appointee Holly Greaves.

Per her official bio, the mission of Greaves’ team is “to ensure the effective management and financial integrity of EPA’s resources and annual budget, which was $8.8 billion in fiscal year 2018.”

EPA personnel within the CFO’s office claimed they destroyed the records because they had signed non-disclosure agreements prohibiting them from sharing official documents with outside third parties. Inspectors general, however, are entitled by law to access all agency information.

Jonathan Gant of international anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness said he had never encountered an instance of federal employees destroying official documents while under audit.  By general auditing standards, as well as the government’s own rules, he said “such an act would be wrong or illegal ...“It seems like it would anger even the most casual reader that officials are heading to the shredder when the inspector comes calling,”   .

Before he became president, Trump’s companies routinely destroyed records “in defiance of court orders,” Newsweek reported in 2016. His penchant for opacity informs his governing style.   

Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: March 13, 2019, 03:58:35 PM »
The 'Ecological Foundations of Society' are In Peril, a Massive UN Report Warns

Human activities are degrading the global environment at a pace that could endanger the "ecological foundations of society" and human health, according to a landmark United Nations report released Wednesday.

The authors say that with unprecedented action on a global scale -- including drastically cutting carbon emissions, improving water management and reducing pollution -- humans can achieve a future with less poverty and hunger while preserving the environment. ... our window for action is closing fast. If we continue business as usual, the authors warn, we can expect:

- Millions of premature deaths caused by air pollution across large swaths of Asia, the Middle East and Africa by the middle of this century.
- The continuation of a major species extinction event, impairing Earth's capacity to meet human food and resource needs.
- Freshwater pollutants making antimicrobial-resistant infections a major cause of death by 2050.

The 740 page report is the sixth Global Environment Outlook and is the UN's most comprehensive report on the state of the global environment since the fifth edition in 2012. More than 250 scientists and experts from more than 70 countries contributed to the assessment.

The authors echo findings from last fall's UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that, to avoid disastrous levels of global warming, urgent changes to all aspects of society are needed.

Unfortunately, greenhouse gas emissions have locked the world into a period of climate change defined by rising seas, more frequent and intense storms and food security crises, the report says.

Climate change is hardly the only environmental crisis unfolding due to human activity that the report urges action to address.

Species extinction rates continue to increase at a pace that could compromise Earth's ability to meet human needs, the report says.

The authors also detail how feeding the growing human population remains a challenge that is taking a toll on the environment. Land is getting less fertile and useful. The report says degradation “hot spots,” where it’s difficult to grow crops, now cover 29 percent of all land areas.

... it comes on the heels of another U.N. report, issued in October, which said that the international community has 12 years to limit the disastrous effects of climate change.


Environment is Deadly and Worsening Mess, but Not Hopeless: U.N.

... “There is still time but the window is closing fast.”

The sixth Global Environment Outlook, released Wednesday at a U.N. conference in Nairobi, Kenya, painted a dire picture of a planet where environmental problems interact with each other to make things even more dangerous for people. It uses the word “risk” 561 times in a 740-page report.

The report concludes “unsustainable human activities globally have degraded the Earth’s ecosystems, endangering the ecological foundations of society.”

“Time is running out to prevent the irreversible and dangerous impacts of climate change,” the report says, noting that unless something changes, global temperatures will exceed the threshold of warming — another 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above current temperatures — that international agreements call dangerous.

Trump Once Again Requests Deep Cuts in U.S. Science Spending

For the third year in a row, President Donald Trump’s administration has unveiled a budget request to Congress that calls for deep spending cuts at many federal science agencies, including a 13% cut for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a 12% cut for the National Science Foundation (NSF), while providing hefty increases for the military.


Trump's New Science Adviser Says It's Not His Job to Correct the President on Climate Change

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: March 11, 2019, 06:10:25 PM »
Game Over Man; Game Over! ...

Few Pathways to an Acceptable Climate Future Without Immediate Action

...The massive analysis shows that meeting the 2.00 C target is exceptionally difficult in all but the most optimistic climate scenarios. One pathway is to immediately and aggressively pursue carbon-neutral energy production by 2030 and hope that the atmosphere's sensitivity to carbon emissions is relatively low, according to the study. If climate sensitivity is not low, the window to a tolerable future narrows and in some scenarios, may already be closed.

... If the climate sensitivity is greater than 3.00K (median of assumed distribution), the pathway to a tolerable future is likely already closed. 

Robust abatement pathways to tolerable climate futures require immediate global action, Nature Climate Change (2019).

Game Over Man; Game Over! ...

Few Pathways to an Acceptable Climate Future Without Immediate Action

...The massive analysis shows that meeting the 2.00 C target is exceptionally difficult in all but the most optimistic climate scenarios. One pathway is to immediately and aggressively pursue carbon-neutral energy production by 2030 and hope that the atmosphere's sensitivity to carbon emissions is relatively low, according to the study. If climate sensitivity is not low, the window to a tolerable future narrows and in some scenarios, may already be closed.

... If the climate sensitivity is greater than 3.00K (median of assumed distribution), the pathway to a tolerable future is likely already closed. 

Robust abatement pathways to tolerable climate futures require immediate global action, Nature Climate Change (2019).

The rest / Re: Systemic Isolation
« on: March 10, 2019, 01:11:00 AM »

Consequences / Re: Decline in insect populations
« on: March 07, 2019, 05:59:17 PM »
Improved Regulation Needed as Pesticides Found to Affect Genes in Bees

For the first time, researchers applied a biomedically inspired approach to examine changes in the 12,000 genes that make up bumblebee workers and queens after pesticide exposure.

The study, published in Molecular Ecology, shows that genes which may be involved in a broad range of biological processes are affected.

They also found that queens and workers respond differently to pesticide exposure and that one pesticide they tested had much stronger effects than the other did.

Other recent studies, including previous work by the authors, have revealed that exposure even to low doses of these neurotoxic pesticides is detrimental to colony function and survival as it impairs bee behaviours including the ability to obtain pollen and nectar from flowers and the ability to locate their nests.

Open Access: Thomas J. Colgan, Isabel K. Fletcher, Andres N. Arce, Richard J. Gill, Ana Ramos Rodrigues, Eckart Stolle, Lars Chittka and Yannick Wurm, 'Caste- and pesticide-specific effects of neonicotinoid pesticide exposure on gene expression in bumblebees', Molecular Ecology 2019.

Sea Ice Plays Pacemaker Role in Abrupt Climate Change

A new study looking at variations in past sea ice cover in the Norwegian Sea found the shrinkage and growth of ice was instrumental in several abrupt climate changes between 32,000 and 40,000 years ago.

The growth or shrinkage of sea ice is often viewed as a symptom of climate change, but new research shows it may have played a more causative role in abrupt climate changes thousands of years ago.

The study, which was led by Dr. Henrik Sadatzki from the Department of Earth Science and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen (Norway), analysed marine sediment cores from the Norwegian sea to reconstruct changes in sea ice during the last glacial period, focusing on the abrupt climate change events. This was complemented by climate model simulations of the last glacial period.

The abrupt climate changes – known as Dansgaard–Oeschger climate events – had global implications and comprised temperature shifts of up to 15°C over the Greenland ice sheet and happened within decades.

While the underlying mechanisms of these dramatic changes are not yet fully understood, the study confirms that changes in sea ice cover in the Norwegian Sea played a key role in driving the enigmatic events.

Open Access: Henrik Sadatzki et al. Sea ice variability in the southern Norwegian Sea during glacial Dansgaard-Oeschger climate cycles, Science Advances (2019).

Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: How quickly could Greenland melt?
« on: March 07, 2019, 04:47:28 PM »
Add this to the mix ...

Climate Change: Rain Melting Greenland Ice Sheet 'Even In Winter'

Interesting Before/After Pictures

Rain is becoming more frequent in Greenland and accelerating the melting of its ice, a new study has found.

The lead author of the study, Dr Marilena Oltmanns of the GEOMAR ocean research centre in Germany, told BBC News: "We were surprised that there was rain in the winter.

"It does make sense because we're seeing flows of warm air coming up from the South, but it's still surprising to see that associated with rainfall."

Another scientist on the study, Prof Marco Tedesco of Columbia University in New York, said that the increase in rain had important implications.

Even if it falls during winter, and then quickly refreezes, the rain changes the characteristics of the surface, leaving it smoother and darker, and "pre-conditioned" to melt more rapidly when summer arrives.

The darker the ice is, the more heat it absorbs from the Sun - causing it to melt more quickly.

The findings, published in the journal The Cryosphere, show that while there were about two spells of winter rain every year in the early phase of the study period, that had risen to 12 spells by 2012.

On more than 300 occasions between 1979-2012, the analysis found that rainfall events were triggering a melting of the ice. ...


It's Raining On the Greenland Ice—In the Winter

Greenland has been losing ice in recent decades due to progressive warming. Since about 1990, average temperatures over the ice sheet have increased by as much as 1.8 degrees C (3.2F) in summer, and up to 3 degrees C (5.4F) in winter. The 660,000-square-mile sheet is now believed to be losing about 270 billion tons of ice each year. For much of this time, most of this was thought to come from icebergs calving into the ocean, but recently direct meltwater runoff has come to dominate, accounting for about 70 percent of the loss. Rainy weather, say the study authors, is increasingly becoming the trigger for that runoff.

The researchers combined satellite imagery with on-the-ground weather observations from 1979 to 2012 in order to pinpoint what was triggering melting in specific places. Satellites are used to map melting in real time because their imagery can distinguish snow from liquid water. About 20 automated weather stations spread across the ice offer concurrent data on temperature, wind and precipitation. Combining the two sets of data, the researchers zeroed in on more than 300 events in which they found the initial trigger for melting was weather that brought rain.

Marilena Oltmanns of Germany's GEOMAR Centre for Ocean Research said that over the study period, melting associated with rain and its subsequent effects doubled during summer, and tripled in winter. Total precipitation over the ice sheet did not change; what did change was the form of precipitation. All told, the researchers estimate that nearly a third of total runoff they observed was initiated by rainfall.

Melting can be driven by a complex of factors, but the introduction of liquid water is one of the most powerful, said Marco Tedesco, a glaciologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and coauthor of the study. Warm air, of course, can melt ice directly, but is not very efficient by itself, he said. However, warmer temperatures can produce cascading effects. One is that they make it more likely that atmospheric conditions will pass the threshold where precipitation comes down as rain, not snow. Liquid water carries a great deal of latent heat, and when it soaks into a snowy surface, it melts the snow around it, releasing more energy. Meanwhile, the warm air that brought the rain often forms clouds, which hem in the heat.

Open Access: Marilena Oltmanns,, Increased Greenland melt triggered by large-scale, year-round cyclonic moisture intrusions, The Cryosphere, 13, 815-825, 2019

Post-Hurricane Harvey, NASA Tried To Fly a Pollution-Spotting Plane over Houston… Trump's EPA Said No!

In the weeks after Hurricane Harvey's catastrophic sweep through the Houston area—which resulted in chemical spills, fires, flooded storage tanks and damaged industrial plants—rescue crews and residents complained of burning throats, nausea and dizziness.

Fifteen hundred miles west in the high desert city of Palmdale, Calif., NASA scientists were preparing to fly a DC-8, equipped with the world's most sophisticated air samplers over the hurricane zone to monitor pollution levels.

The mission never got off the ground. Both the state of Texas and the EPA told the scientists —  stay away.

According to emails obtained by the Los Angeles Times via a public records request and interviews with dozens of scientists and officials familiar with the situation, EPA and state officials argued that NASA's data would cause "confusion" and might "overlap" with their own analysis—which was showing only a few, isolated spots of concern.

"At this time, we don't think your data would be useful," Michael Honeycutt, Texas' director of toxicology, wrote to NASA officials, adding that low-flying helicopters equipped with infra-red cameras, contracted by his agency, would be sufficient.

EPA deferred to Honeycutt, a controversial toxicologist who has suggested air pollution may be beneficial to human health.

NASA scientists say that, had the DC-8 been deployed, it would have provided the most comprehensive and detailed analysis of air quality in the region, allowing for a more thorough understanding of the situation.

... Smokestacks, pipelines and generators had been damaged or destroyed. Storage tanks filled with toxic chemicals were battered and leaking. Superfund sites were flooded, spilling hazardous waste into nearby rivers, streams and neighborhoods.

Officials from the EPA and the state environmental agency —  which had shut down their stationary air monitors to avoid storm damage —  maintained the air quality was fine. In addition to using ground technology, they flew in a single-engine prop plane that took photos and used infrared technology to detect chemical plumes in the area.

Despite EPA claims that pollutants were "well below levels of health concern," residents and rescuers complained of the fumes. Clouds of benzene and other cancer-causing chemicals floated over the city, according to analyses by environmental groups and news reports.

... The key decision-maker was Honeycutt, known for his energy industry-friendly views on toxic chemicals and pollutants. Six weeks later, Trump's EPA would appoint Honeycutt chairman of the agency's Scientific Advisory Board, an independent panel of scientists charged with providing advice to the agency's administrator.

On Sept. 11, Honeycutt wrote in an email to NASA and EPA officials that state data showed no sign for concern, and "we don't think your data would be useful for source identification while industry continues to restart their operations."


Texas Toxicologist Who Rejects Basic Science Appointed to EPA Science Board

For years Texas’ chief toxicologist, Michael Honeycutt, has accused the EPA of scaring the public about the health risks of toxic chemicals. The EPA, he has said, “ignores good science which demonstrates that a chemical is not as toxic as they think it is,” uses “‘chicken little’ toxicity values” and doesn’t “do common-sense groundtruthing.” Honeycutt has repeatedly put himself outside the scientific mainstream by arguing that pollutants are not nearly as harmful as the evidence suggests.

Mercury? EPA is “overstating” the risks of exposure and ignoring the fact that the Japanese eat 10 times as much fish as Americans.

Arsenic? It couldn’t be unsafe because we’re not seeing increases in cancer rates that would be true if EPA’s assessment is “realistic.”

Ozone? EPA’s ozone rules are unnecessary because “Americans likely spend at least 90 percent of their time indoors.”

In announcing his appointment on Tuesday, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt called Honeycutt a “wonderful scientist” and said he had been chosen out of 130 applicants.


From the same Republican-led EPA that said Air Quality post 9/11 was 'right as rain' ...

... More than 37,000 people registered with the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), a federal organisation set up in 2011 to oversee those affected by exposure to the toxins released at Ground Zero, have been declared sick. Many have chronic respiratory illnesses or cancer.

More than 1,100 people covered by the WTCHP have died. That number includes first responders who were at Ground Zero and people who lived and worked in the surrounding area.

The rest / Re: The Media: Examples of Good AND Bad Journalism
« on: March 05, 2019, 06:09:35 PM »
The Making of the Fox News White House

Fox News has always been partisan. But has it become propaganda?

In January, during the longest government shutdown in America’s history, President Donald Trump rode in a motorcade through Hidalgo County, Texas, eventually stopping on a grassy bluff overlooking the Rio Grande. The White House wanted to dramatize what Trump was portraying as a national emergency: the need to build a wall along the Mexican border. The presence of armored vehicles, bales of confiscated marijuana, and federal agents in flak jackets underscored the message.

But the photo op dramatized something else about the Administration. After members of the press pool got out of vans and headed over to where the President was about to speak, they noticed that Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, was already on location. Unlike them, he hadn’t been confined by the Secret Service, and was mingling with Administration officials, at one point hugging Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security. The pool report noted that Hannity was seen “huddling” with the White House communications director, Bill Shine. After the photo op, Hannity had an exclusive on-air interview with Trump. Politico later reported that it was Hannity’s seventh interview with the President, and Fox’s forty-second. Since then, Trump has given Fox two more. He has granted only ten to the three other main television networks combined, and none to CNN, which he denounces as “fake news.”

Hannity was treated in Texas like a member of the Administration because he virtually is one. The same can be said of Fox’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch. Fox has long been a bane of liberals, but in the past two years many people who watch the network closely, including some Fox alumni, say that it has evolved into something that hasn’t existed before in the United States. Nicole Hemmer, an assistant professor of Presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and the author of “Messengers of the Right,” a history of the conservative media’s impact on American politics, says of Fox, “It’s the closest we’ve come to having state TV.” ...


Fox News’s Propaganda Isn’t Just Unethical — Research Shows It’s Enormously Influential

Fox’s propaganda broadcasting matters. It’s a somewhat underexplored topic in political science research, but the information that’s available suggests that right-wing propaganda broadcasting — led by Fox but also including Sinclair Broadcast Group — has a decisive influence on American politics.

A study by Emory University political scientist Gregory Martin and Stanford economist Ali Yurukoglu estimates that watching Fox News translates into a significantly greater willingness to vote for Republican candidates. ... they find that if Fox News hadn’t existed, the Republican presidential candidate’s share of the two-party vote would have been 3.59 points lower in 2004 and 6.34 points lower in 2008. Without Fox, in other words, the GOP’s only popular vote win since the 1980s would have been reversed and the 2008 election would have been an extinction-level landslide.

Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: March 05, 2019, 05:57:15 PM »
Disappearing Rice Fields Threaten More Global Warming

All over China, a huge change has been taking place without any of us noticing. Rice paddies have been (and are being) converted at an astonishing rate into aquaculture ponds to produce more protein for the worlds growing populations. This change risks creating an unexpected impact on global warming.

International researchers, including Prof Chris Freeman from Bangor University, have found conversion of paddy fields to aquaculture is releasing massive amounts of the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere.

It was always assumed that because rice paddies are already a huge source of atmospheric methane, nothing could happen to make a difficult situation worse.

When describing their work which appears in “Nature Climate Change”, Prof Chris Freeman commented: “We were amazed to discover that methane production from the converted rice paddies was massively higher than before conversion.” ... The conversion increased associated global warming potentials from 8.15 ± 0.43 to 28.0 ± 4.1 Mg CO2eq ha−1, primarily due to increased CH4 emissions.

Junji Yuan et al. Rapid growth in greenhouse gas emissions from the adoption of industrial-scale aquaculture, Nature Climate Change (2019)

Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: March 05, 2019, 05:14:34 PM »
Due to Humans, Extinction Risk for 1,700 Animal Species to Increase by 2070

As humans continue to expand our use of land across the planet, we leave other species little ground to stand on. By 2070, increased human land-use is expected to put 1,700 species of amphibians, birds, and mammals at greater extinction risk by shrinking their natural habitats, according to a study by Yale ecologists published in Nature Climate Change.

"Our findings link these plausible futures with their implications for biodiversity," said Walter Jetz, co-author and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and of forestry and environmental studies at Yale. "Our analyses allow us to track how political and economic decisions—through their associated changes to the global land cover—are expected to cause habitat range declines in species worldwide."

The study shows that under a middle-of-the-road scenario of moderate changes in human land-use about 1,700 species will likely experience marked increases in their extinction risk over the next 50 years: They will lose roughly 30-50% of their present habitat ranges by 2070. These species of concern include 886 species of amphibians, 436 species of birds, and 376 species of mammals—all of which are predicted to have a high increase in their risk of extinction.

These projections and all other analyzed species can be examined at the Map of Life website.

"Losses in species populations can irreversibly hamper the functioning of ecosystems and human quality of life," ... "While biodiversity erosion in far-away parts of the planet may not seem to affect us directly, its consequences for human livelihood can reverberate globally. It is also often the far-away demand that drives these losses—think tropical hardwoods, palm oil, or soybeans—thus making us all co-responsible."

Global habitat loss and extinction risk of terrestrial vertebrates under land-use-change scenarios, Nature Climate Change (2019)


Adders are Facing Near Extinction in Britain

The adder could all but disappear from the UK countryside by 2032, according to new research conducted with the help of citizen scientists.

The findings, published in the Herpetological Journal, are the culmination of 11 years of nationwide monitoring and showed that 90 percent of adder populations surveyed were declining. Experts warn that, if these trends continue, within just 10-20 years adders could be restricted to just a handful of sites in the UK

This is not just bad for adders. Adders are an indicator species. If adders are in serious decline, this suggests many other species who depend on the same habitats are likely to be suffering too. So why are so many adder populations in decline and what can we do about it? The study also identified key threats currently affecting the adder sites. Top of the list was public pressure through disturbance.

Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: March 01, 2019, 05:24:21 PM »
Catastrophic Outlook for African Savannahs Due to Rise in CO2 Levels

A ground-breaking research study looking at modern and ancient landscapes has discovered African plants could be facing mass extinction faster than once thought.

Scientists from the Lyell Centre, Heriot-Watt University, looked at chemical fossils, with special emphasis on plant vegetable oils preserved in ancient sediments.

The fossils revealed almost 8,000 sub-tropical African plant species from an estimated total of about 23,000 species could become extinct within the next few decades.

The worrying figure amounts to 33 per cent of Africa's contemporary plant diversity, affecting basic ecosystems worldwide.

Academics also claim, the magnitude of biodiversity loss projected for southeast Africa over the next 100 years will be more significant than anything seen in the last 15,000 years or more.
... "Our study informs us of a possible catastrophic outlook for plants and diversity in this African region and the magnitude of biodiversity loss will be especially pronounced for sub-tropical regions, such as savannahs."

The trend was discovered after researchers looked into the widespread rapid decrease of (sub) tropical biodiversity, including plants during the most recent large-scale global warming event (deglaciation amid 10,000 to 18,000 years ago) that followed the Last Glacial Maximum.

They discovered the decline was due to rapidly rising atmospheric CO2 levels which affected the ability of plants with specialised traits, to complete with more cosmopolitan and faster growing plants like weedy grasses.

Open Access: Clayton R. Magill et al. Isotopic variance among plant lipid homologues correlates with biodiversity patterns of their source communities, PLOS ONE (2019).


Population Increases and Climate Change Point to Future US water Shortages

Climate change plus population growth are setting the stage for water shortages in parts of the U.S. long before the end of the century, according to a new study in the AGU journal Earth's Future.

The new study finds climate change and population growth are likely to present serious challenges in some regions of the U.S., notably the central and southern Great Plains, the Southwest and central Rocky Mountain States, and California, and also some areas in the South and the Midwest.

Even efforts to use water more efficiently in municipal and industrial sectors won't be enough to stave off shortages, say the authors of the new study. The results suggest that reductions in agricultural water use will probably play the biggest role in limiting future water shortages.

Simulations show that major additions to storage capacity are ineffectual in the most vulnerable basins due to a lack of water to fill the reservoirs.

Past and projected annual water yield and demand by basin. (a) Water yield in past period (Bm3). (b) Percent change in water yield from past period to mid future period, mean of 14 futures. (c) Water demand in the past period (Mm3). (d) Percent change in water demand from past period to mid future period, mean of 14 futures. Time periods: past (1985–2010) and midfuture (2046–2070).

Open Access: Thomas C. Brown et al, Adaptation to Future Water Shortages in the United States Caused by Population Growth and Climate Change, Earth's Future (2019).


Forests, Carbon Sinks, Cannot Make Up for Delays in Decarbonizing the Economy

"Natural climate solutions are not enough" Science (2019).

The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: February 28, 2019, 05:03:10 PM »
More Support for Planet Nine

Corresponding with the three-year anniversary of their announcement hypothesizing the existence of a ninth planet in the solar system, Caltech's Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin are publishing a pair of papers analyzing the evidence for Planet Nine's existence.

The papers offer new details about the suspected nature and location of the planet, which has been the subject of an intense international search ever since Batygin and Brown's 2016 announcement.

... Based on the new models, Batygin and Brown—together with Fred Adams and Juliette Becker (BS '14) of the University of Michigan—concluded that Planet Nine has a mass of about five times that of the earth and has an orbital semimajor axis in the neighborhood of 400 astronomical units (AU), making it smaller and closer to the sun than previously suspected—and potentially brighter. Each astronomical unit is equivalent to the distance between the center of Earth and the center of the sun, or about 149.6 million kilometers.

"At five Earth masses, Planet Nine is likely to be very reminiscent of a typical extrasolar super-Earth," says Batygin, an assistant professor of planetary science and Van Nuys Page Scholar. Super-Earths are planets with a mass greater than Earth's, but substantially less than that of a gas giant. "It is the solar system's missing link of planet formation. Over the last decade, surveys of extrasolar planets have revealed that similar-sized planets are very common around other sun-like stars. Planet Nine is going to be the closest thing we will find to a window into the properties of a typical planet of our galaxy."

Konstantin Batygin et al, The planet nine hypothesis, Physics Reports (2019)

Michael E. Brown et al. Orbital Clustering in the Distant Solar System, The Astronomical Journal (2019)

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Astronomers Just Discovered 'Farout,' the Most Distant Known Object in the Solar System

A team of astronomers has discovered the most extreme trans-Neptunian object in the outer reaches of the Solar System. Dubbed “Farout,” the object is more than 120 times farther from the Sun than Earth is (120AU). Excitingly, given preliminary estimates about its size, it could actually be a dwarf planet—but it’s still too small to qualify as the elusive Planet X.

Farout is so far out that light from the Sun takes 16 hours and 40 minutes to travel the 11-billion-mile (18-billion-kilometer) distance. Based on its brightness and distance, it is likely about 500 to 600 km (310 to 372 miles) in diameter.

2018 VG18 is the first object found beyond 100 AU in our Solar System,” Sheppard told Gizmodo. “It moves so slow, that it will take a few years to see enough motion of the object to determine its orbit around the Sun.” Sheppard and his colleagues wouldn’t be surprised if a single year on Farout lasts more than 1,000 Earth years.

In October, the same group of researchers announced the discovery of another distant Solar System object, called 2015 TG387 and nicknamed "The Goblin," because it was first seen near Halloween. The Goblin was discovered at about 80 AU and has an orbit that is consistent with it being influenced by an unseen Super-Earth-sized Planet X on the Solar System's very distant fringes.


FarFarOut: The New Most Distant Object In Our Solar System

The newly discovered object is called, appropriately, Farfarout. It replaces Farout as the furthest known object in our solar system. The previous record holder orbited the sun at about 120 AU (one AU, or astronomical unit, is the distance from the Earth to the sun). Farfarout is a stunning 140 AU away.


Spacecraft Spots Evidence That Groundwater Once Saturated Mars

Scientists report finding evidence for an ancient planet-wide groundwater system on Mars, according to a new study. The clues appeared in images taken by Mars orbiters.

The researchers analyzed a sample of images of impact craters in Mars’ northern hemisphere taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) and Context Camera (CTX) on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter. They identified 24 craters 1.4 to 3.1 kilometers (0.9 to 1.9 miles) deep, which they analyzed for evidence of groundwater’s influence.

Several lines of evidence appeared in the analysis. Some of the craters had valleys that appeared to be formed by erosion from water. Some had channels carved into their walls. Some had “terraces,” platforms that could have been formed by the presence of standing water. Fifteen of the craters had fan shapes that looked like river deltas. Some had cones that looked like branching tributaries. Their floors were flat, possibly from the settling of sediments from water. Sixteen of the craters had debris piles that looked like they were caused by landslides.

Taken together, these data points all occurring at similar depths made the researchers infer that the features they saw in these craters “contained water that progressively receded, leaving behind landforms in a specific chronological order,” according to the study. More importantly, the same features seen across the planet’s northern hemisphere suggested to the researchers that Mars could have been saturated with groundwater in order to produce the results seen in the paper. The water level also aligns with existing evidence of an ancient Martian ocean.

Open Access: F. Salese,, Geological Evidence of Planet‐Wide Groundwater System on Mars, Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets  21 January 2019

Arctic sea ice / Re: Northern Sea Route thread
« on: February 27, 2019, 06:38:09 PM »
Novatek Wants Arctic Shipping Route Open All Year From Around 2023

LONDON (Reuters) - Russian gas producer Novatek wants to use nuclear icebreakers to keep the Northern Sea Route, a shipping path traversing the Arctic to Asia, open all year long for its liquefied natural gas (LNG), a top executive said on Wednesday.

“Our plan is to keep the Northern Sea Route open twelve months a year in 2023 to 25 with 100-megawatt-hour nuclear icebreakers,” Novatek Chief Financial Officer Mark Gyetvay told delegates at an energy conference.

Novatek operates the Yamal LNG facilities in Russia’s Arctic north, which have already produced 11 million tonnes of LNG since starting production in December 2017.

Arctic sea ice / Re: When will the Arctic Go Ice Free?
« on: February 27, 2019, 06:29:21 PM »
Ice-Free Arctic Summers Could Happen On Earlier Side of Predictions

WASHINGTON -- The Arctic Ocean could become ice-free in the summer in the next 20 years due to a natural, long-term warming phase in the tropical Pacific that adds to human-caused warming, according to a new study.

The climate model used in the new study predicts an ice-free Arctic summer sometime between 2030 and 2050, if greenhouse gases continue to rise.

By accounting for a long-term warming phase in the tropical Pacific, the new research shows an ice-free Arctic is more likely to occur on the earlier side of that window, closer to 2030 than 2050.

Around five years ago, the Pacific began to switch from the cold to warm phase of the IPO. Screen and his co-author plotted predictions of when an ice-free Arctic would occur in model experiments where the IPO was shifting in the same direction as the real world. They compared these to predictions where the IPO was moving in the opposite direction, that is, switching from a warm to cold phase.

They found model predictions that were in sync with actual conditions showed an earlier ice-free Arctic, by seven years on average, than those predictions that were out of step with reality.

...our results do not contradict a contributing role of the negatively trending IPO in the accelerated winter sea‐ice loss from 2000 to 2014 in the Barents Sea. They suggest, however, that in the future, IPO‐associated sea‐ice changes in the Pacific sector may dominate over opposite‐signed sea‐ice changes in the Atlantic sector.

Open Access: J. A. Screen,, Pacific Ocean Variability Influences the Time of Emergence of a Seasonally Ice‐Free Arctic Ocean, Geophysical Research Letters, 05 February 2019

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: February 27, 2019, 01:00:42 PM »
French Vineyards Try to Break Glyphosate Addiction

The vaunted terroirs of France's vineyards have for decades been saturated with the world's most widely used [carcinogenic] weedkiller, but grape growers say the day is soon coming when glyphosate will no longer be part of the fine wine process.

President Emmanuel Macron has challenged the industry to stop using the herbicide—considered "probably cancerogenic" by the World Health Organization's cancer agency—faster than anyone else.

He had initially pledged to completely outlaw the weedkiller, most widely known under Monsanto's Roundup brand, by 2021, though Macron admitted last month the target was probably too ambitious.

... à votre santé

Consequences / Re: Weird Weather and anecdotal stories about climate change
« on: February 26, 2019, 06:44:45 PM »

'Ice tsunami' on Lake Erie after strong winds

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