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Messages - vox_mundi

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1
Arctic sea ice / Re: What's new in the Arctic ?
« on: April 21, 2019, 01:48:28 AM »
Jason Box video explaining the new paper — titled Key Indicators of Arctic Climate Change: 1971–2017



World Economic Forum: The Arctic Has Entered an ‘Unprecedented State,’ Researchers Warn 
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/04/the-arctic-has-entered-an-unprecedented-state-researchers-warn/

2
USDA Is Forcing Its Researchers to Label Their Peer-Reviewed Studies as Only 'Preliminary'   
https://gizmodo.com/usda-is-forcing-its-researchers-to-label-their-peer-rev-1834176766

The peer review process for scientific publications is a tedious and trusted mechanism by which papers are determined credible sources of information or not. While “peer reviewed” isn’t synonymous with conclusive, it’s long been a stamp of approval for other scientists and the public to weed out low-quality research. But a new requirement from the federal government effectively undermines these studies by forcing researchers to include a disclaimer labeling their studies as “preliminary.

According to the Washington Post, the United States Department of Agriculture sent a memo to researchers at the department in July of last year that outlined a number of new requirements, including a statement that had to be added—in the same-sized font as the author names—that stated:
Quote
... “The findings and conclusions in this preliminary publication have not been formally disseminated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.” 

This text, that essentially brands carefully reviewed research as “preliminary,” was reportedly the “result of a high-level compromise” that allowed USDA researchers “to publish scientific research without having to get it officially reviewed as representing USDA policy. (by Trump appointees/ industry lobbyists)” It was also supposed to just be “an interim policy,” with a new guideline rolling out in the fall, according to internal communications among department employees obtained by the Post.

But a new guideline never happened, the “interim” one was reportedly never announced to the public, and the disclaimer has reportedly already been inserted into a number of existing peer-reviewed journals.

Any scientist reading a journal, seeing that, would be very confused by this statement,” Ed Gregorich, editor of the Journal of Environmental Quality, told the Post.  ...

3
Consequences / Re: Decline in insect populations
« on: April 18, 2019, 09:38:44 PM »

4
Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: April 18, 2019, 03:08:53 PM »


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

5
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
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/18/decades-of-denial-major-report-finds-new-zealands-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.


https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5954379-Environment-Aotearoa-2019-Embargoed.html

--------------------------

Mass deforestation: How trade fells trees in Brazil and Indonesia 
https://dw.com/en/mass-deforestation-how-trade-fells-trees-in-brazil-and-indonesia/a-48280649

... 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.


https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378018314365

6
Pentagon Cancels Contract for JASON Advisory Panel
https://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/2019/04/pentagon-jason/

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 
https://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/2019/04/nrac-terminated/

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.


7
The rest / Re: SpaceX
« on: April 13, 2019, 06:45:47 AM »

8
Sorry to hear that John; hope all is well.

----------------------------------

Brown Snow Falling in the US Midwest 
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47914720

Chris O'Brien, a meteorologist at the US National Weather Service, told Time magazine that the discoloration is caused by dust particles carried on strong winds all the way from Texas.

"[The wind] picked up a lot of dust and got it entrained into the circulation of this storm system and pulled it all the way up into Minnesota where it fell with the precipitation," he said

Satellite images show large plumes of dust drifting northwards from the US-Mexico border.

https://mobile.twitter.com/NOAASatellites/status/1116371342125862912

9
Consequences / Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« on: April 12, 2019, 07:24:29 PM »
Congo's Ebola Outbreak Might Be Declared Global Emergency
https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/congo-s-ebola-outbreak-might-be-declared-global-emergency-n993856

A top Red Cross official says he’s “more concerned than I have ever been” about the possible regional spread of the Ebola virus after a new spike in cases, as the World Health Organization met on whether to declare the outbreak in Congo an international health emergency.

Emanuele Capobianco, head of health and care at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, cited Congolese health ministry statistics showing 40 new cases over two days this week. He called that rate unprecedented in this outbreak. ... 75% of new Ebola cases have no obvious link to previous patients, meaning that officials have lost track of where the virus is spreading.

We’re discovering people when it’s way too late,” ... noting numerous cases were buried in secret and never reported to authorities. “Given the average number of cases we’re seeing now, this is not going to be over for at least another six months or more.”

... To be designated a public health emergency of international concern, a situation must be “serious, unusual or unexpected,” threaten to infect other countries and require “immediate international action.”

-------------------------------

Drug-Resistant “Superbugs” are Spreading
https://www.vox.com/2019/4/8/18300388/candida-auris-superbug-drug-resistant

In a breathtaking Saturday feature in the New York Times, reporters Matt Richtel and Andrew Jacobs shined a light on one such hidden outbreak: the spread of a drug-resistant fungus, Candida auris, around the world.

10
The rest / Re: Systemic Isolation
« on: April 12, 2019, 07:10:59 PM »
Future 'Human Brain/Cloud Interface' Will Give People Instant Access to Vast Knowledge via Thought Alone
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-04-future-human-braincloud-interface-people.html

Writing in Frontiers in Neuroscience, an international collaboration led by researchers at UC Berkeley and the US Institute for Molecular Manufacturing predicts that exponential progress in nanotechnology, nanomedicine, AI, and computation will lead this century to the development of a "Human Brain/Cloud Interface" (B/CI), that connects brain cells to vast cloud-computing networks in real time.

This cortex in the cloud would allow "Matrix"-style downloading of information to the brain, the group claims.


I Know Kung Fu! ... Show Me.

"A human B/CI system mediated by neuralnanorobotics could empower individuals with instantaneous access to all cumulative human knowledge available in the cloud, while significantly improving human learning capacities and intelligence," says lead author Dr. Nuno Martins.

B/CI technology might also allow us to create a future "global superbrain" that would connect networks of individual human brains and AIs to enable collective thought.

... an experimental human 'BrainNet' system has already been tested, enabling thought-driven information exchange via the cloud between individual brains,"

Open Access: Nuno R. B. Martins et al. Human Brain/Cloud Interface, Frontiers in Neuroscience (2019)

-------------------------------

DARPA is actively pursuing this.

U.S. to Fund Advanced Brain-Computer Interfaces
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608219/us-to-fund-advanced-brain-computer-interfaces/?set=608245

----------------------------

It’s Now Possible To Telepathically Communicate with a Drone Swarm
https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2018/09/its-now-possible-telepathically-communicate-drone-swarm/151068/

-----------------------------

Military Pilots Can Control Three Jets At Once via A Neural Implant
https://futurism.com/the-byte/jets-pilots-mind-control-darpa

----------------------------

DARPA Wants Brain Interfaces for Able-Bodied Warfighters
https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/bionics/darpa-wants-brain-interfaces-for-able-bodied-warfighters

--------------------------------

Researchers affiliated with Elon Musk's brain-computer interface company, Neuralink, publish paper on inserting chips into brains
https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-linked-scientists-develop-technique-for-putting-probes-in-brains-2019-4

---------------------------------

Team Develops Thermoelectric Device That Generates Electricity Using Human Body Heat
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-team-thermoelectric-device-electricity-human.html


Morpheus: "The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world, built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this."

11
Policy and solutions / Re: Energy Efficiency: The “First Fuel”
« on: April 12, 2019, 06:37:48 PM »
Lot of 'wasted' energy in that picture ...

U.S. Energy Use Rises to Highest Level Ever
https://www.llnl.gov/news/us-energy-use-rises-highest-level-ever



Americans used more energy in 2018 than in any other year, according to the most recent energy flow charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Overall total energy consumption rose to 101.2 quadrillion BTU (or "quads"). The prior record, set in 2007, was 101.0 quads. Energy use went up by 3.6 percent from 2017, which also is the largest annual increase since 2010.

The largest increases in energy supply came from natural gas, wind and solar energy. In 2018, wind use was up 0.18 quads (7.6 percent) and solar was up 0.18 quads (22 percent). Over the last decade (between 2008 and 2018), total renewable energy production has doubled, including a five-fold increase in wind power and a 48-fold increase in solar. Wind and solar combined now produce more electricity than hydroelectric power, which dominated renewable energy for decades.

12
The rest / Re: Wildlife
« on: April 12, 2019, 06:23:55 PM »
From the ethically questionable pile ...

Chinese Scientists Added Human Brain Genes to Monkeys—and Yes, They May Be Smarter
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/613277/chinese-scientists-have-put-human-brain-genes-in-monkeysand-yes-they-may-be-smarter/



Scientists in southern China report that they’ve tried to narrow the evolutionary gap, creating several transgenic macaque monkeys with extra copies of a human gene suspected of playing a role in shaping human intelligence.

In a study published last month in Beijing’s National Science Review journal, researchers took human copies of the MCPH1 gene, which is believed to play an important role in our brain development, and introduced it into monkey embryos by means of a virus that carried the gene.

Of the 11 transgenic macaque monkeys they generated, six died. The five survivors went through a series of tests, including MRI brain scans and memory tests. It turned out they didn’t have bigger brains than a control group of macaques, but they did perform better on short-term memory tasks. Their brains also developed over a longer period of time, which is typical of human brains.

The Chinese researchers suspect the MCPH1 gene is part of the answer. But they’re not stopping there. One of them, Bing Su, a geneticist at the Kunming Institute of Zoology, told MIT Technology Review that he’s already testing other genes involved in brain evolution:

One that he has his eye on is SRGAP2C, a DNA variant that arose about two million years ago, just when Australopithecus was ceding the African savannah to early humans. That gene has been dubbed the “humanity switch” and the “missing genetic link” for its likely role in the emergence of human intelligence. Su says he’s been adding it to monkeys, but that it’s too soon to say what the results are.

Su has also had his eye on another human gene, FOXP2, which is believed to have graced us with our language abilities. Pondering the possibility of adding that gene to monkeys, Su told Nature in 2016, “I don’t think the monkey will all of a sudden start speaking, but will have some behavioral change.”



... Regarding the five survivors, what kind of lives will they have going forward, altered as they are and confined to an experimental laboratory?” ... “The use of transgenic monkeys to study human genes linked to brain evolution is a very risky road to take,”  ... After how many eliminated differences does a monkey shade into a human being? There’s no clear answer to that question.

Open Access: Lei Shi, et.al., Transgenic rhesus monkeys carrying the human MCPH1 gene copies show human-like neoteny of brain development, National Science Review, 27 March 2019


13
The rest / Re: Arctic Café
« on: April 12, 2019, 02:45:53 PM »
Guilty as charged.  8)

My Great House can't afford real Sapho anymore so it's a dose or three of Java juice several times a day to keep the cogs in this old Mentat's head spinning.

p.s I think the mantra is by that same clever fellow - Anonymous - who writes the fortune cookie fortunes  ;)

14
Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: April 12, 2019, 03:19:20 AM »
US Disaster Aid Won't Cover Lost Crops in Midwest Floods, Farmers Out Millions of Dollars
https://accuweather.com/en/weather-news/us-disaster-aid-wont-cover-lost-crops-in-midwest-floods-farmers-out-millions-of-dollars/70007922

Record flooding that has overwhelmed the midwestern United States this spring has taken a significant toll on farmers, and the U.S. disaster aid isn't covering crops lost by the floods.

The federal policy states that the grain damaged from flooded river water has to be destroyed, and according to Reuters there's nothing the U.S. government can do about the millions of damaged crops under current laws or disaster-aid programs.

Reuters reports this is a problem the USDA has never seen on this scale before because U.S. farmers have never stored so much of their harvests.

Midwestern farmers have been storing their corn and soybeans in unprecedented amounts due to the U.S. and China trade war, according to the BBC.

Last year, the USDA made $12 billion in aid available to farmers who suffered trade-war losses, but there is no program to cover the catastrophic and largely uninsured stored-crop losses from the widespread flooding.


Nebraska's Gov. Pete Ricketts has estimated the losses to the agricultural sector alone at $1 billion. However, the damage doesn't stop there. States such as Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa were also greatly impacted.

AccuWeather estimated the total damage and economic loss caused by record-breaking flooding in the midwestern U.S. this spring will total $12.5 billion, based on an analysis of damages already inflicted and those expected by additional flooding 

...On top of losing millions in crops, farmers are facing pricey facility damage. According to ISU experts, grains swell when wet, so bin damage is likely. Wood structures will be hard hit and may retain mold and contaminants.

Not only does flooding impact their grain and facilities, but it also delays planting of this years crop, Mohler said.

15
Consequences / Re: Floods
« on: April 12, 2019, 03:18:39 AM »
US Disaster Aid Won't Cover Lost Crops in Midwest Floods, Farmers Out Millions of Dollars
https://accuweather.com/en/weather-news/us-disaster-aid-wont-cover-lost-crops-in-midwest-floods-farmers-out-millions-of-dollars/70007922

Record flooding that has overwhelmed the midwestern United States this spring has taken a significant toll on farmers, and the U.S. disaster aid isn't covering crops lost by the floods.

The federal policy states that the grain damaged from flooded river water has to be destroyed, and according to Reuters there's nothing the U.S. government can do about the millions of damaged crops under current laws or disaster-aid programs.

Reuters reports this is a problem the USDA has never seen on this scale before because U.S. farmers have never stored so much of their harvests.

Midwestern farmers have been storing their corn and soybeans in unprecedented amounts due to the U.S. and China trade war, according to the BBC.

Last year, the USDA made $12 billion in aid available to farmers who suffered trade-war losses, but there is no program to cover the catastrophic and largely uninsured stored-crop losses from the widespread flooding.


Nebraska's Gov. Pete Ricketts has estimated the losses to the agricultural sector alone at $1 billion. However, the damage doesn't stop there. States such as Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa were also greatly impacted.

AccuWeather estimated the total damage and economic loss caused by record-breaking flooding in the midwestern U.S. this spring will total $12.5 billion, based on an analysis of damages already inflicted and those expected by additional flooding 

...On top of losing millions in crops, farmers are facing pricey facility damage. According to ISU experts, grains swell when wet, so bin damage is likely. Wood structures will be hard hit and may retain mold and contaminants.

Not only does flooding impact their grain and facilities, but it also delays planting of this years crop, Mohler said.

16
'A Walking Conflict of Interest': Ex-Oil Lobbyist Confirmed to Lead US Interior Department 
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/11/david-bernhart-interior-department-senate-confirmation

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.


17
The rest / Re: Arctic Café
« on: April 11, 2019, 11:08:21 AM »
Actually Switzerland is stockpiling morphine and several other opiates. (heroin is a painkiller and an opiate)

https://www.bwl.admin.ch/dam/bwl/en/dokumente/Themen/Pflichtlager/bericht_zur_vorratshaltung.pdf.download.pdf/Stockpiling_E.pdf
 
pg. 36 ... Opiates
pg. 18 ... Coffee

...  "It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed, the hands acquire shakes, the shakes become a warning. It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion."   :)

18
The rest / Re: Arctic Café
« on: April 11, 2019, 01:31:44 AM »
Coffee Beans Not Vital for Human Survival, Switzerland Decides 
https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/apr/10/switzerland-plans-to-end-emergency-stockpiling-of-coffee

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.

Quote
... “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.  ;)

19
The rest / Re: Archaeology/Paleontology news
« on: April 11, 2019, 12:40:12 AM »
New Species of Ancient Human Discovered in Philippines Cave 
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/apr/10/new-species-of-ancient-human-homo-luzonensis-discovered-in-philippines-cave

A new species of ancient human, thought to have been under 4ft tall and adapted to climbing trees, has been discovered in the Philippines, providing a twist in the story of human evolution.

The specimen, named Homo luzonensis, was excavated from Callao cave on Luzon island in the northern Philippines and has been dated to 50,000-67,000 years ago – when our own ancestors and the Neanderthals were spreading across Europe and into Asia.

Quote
... “We now know that it was a much more complex evolutionary history, with several distinct species contemporaneous with Homo sapiens, interbreeding events, extinctions,” said Détroit. “Homo luzonensis is one of those species and we will [increasingly see] that a few thousand years back in time, Homo sapiens was definitely not alone on Earth.”

... Most intriguing was the presence of a curved toe bone, which closely resembled the anatomy of far more ancient species such as Australopithecus, known only in Africa and dating to 2m-3m years ago. ... Normally this anatomy would indicate a mixed lifestyle with an ability to walk on two legs and climb trees.

Another mystery is how they arrived at Luzon, a large island that has never been connected to the mainland by a land bridge. One possibility is that the early humans set out to sea intentionally on some form of raft; another is that they were washed there in relatively large numbers due to a natural event such as a tsunami. 


20
Consequences / Re: Decline in insect populations
« on: April 10, 2019, 12:51:24 PM »
Quote from: josh-j
... Trees, birds, animals, insects. It can be done I'm sure. Rewilding needs to happen.

I agree. See the article below on China,s effort to integrate nature into commercial agriculture.

Quote from: Avalonian
...  one of the key points was that it is the mosaic landscape that is insect-rich. Blanket forest is better than blanket moor, but the real diversity comes in where you get sheltered clearings, gradients in temperature and moisture, pockets of different vegetation, and patchiness overall.

Exactly. This is a fundamental concept in permaculture - that edges between two environments are the most biodiverse and productive. And maximizing edges - like a mosaic- maximizes biodiversity.

---------------

Cuba's Thriving Honey Business 
https://phys.org/news/2019-04-cuba-worker-bees-boost-honey.html

Shrinking bee populations around the world have caused scientists and conservationists to sound the alarm over the effects of intensive agriculture, disease and pesticides.

But not in Cuba, a Communist-run island nation that has become a kind of apicultural paradise, thanks to the purity of its countryside.

That environmental integrity dates back to Cuba's crippling economic crisis of the 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, which once provided the island with thousands of tonnes of pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides.

Deprived of that support, Cuba had no choice but to develop natural alternatives. In the process, it reduced to almost zero the use of chemicals, so harmful to bee populations and the quality of their honey.


Average production is 51 kilograms (112 pounds) of honey per hive, a level considered high. ... some show yields of up to 160 kilos of honey per hive—triple the national average.

... "We don't use any chemicals when fumigating apiaries or weeding," and "no antibiotics"—products that are anyhow hard to come by because of the US trade embargo in place since 1962.

--------------------

Farming for Natural Profits in China 
https://phys.org/news/2019-04-farming-natural-profits-china.html

A new strategy being rolled out in China relies on the idea that farmers can harvest much more than crops. The idea is that well-managed, diverse agricultural lands can provide flood control, water purification and climate stabilization, among other valuable services.

A recent case-study by researchers at Stanford, McGill University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences provide a promising demonstration of this approach—farmers who took environmental concerns into account doubled their incomes and reduced reliance on a single harvest while also gaining environmental benefits from the land. The group said the approach could help farmers worldwide protect both the environment and their livelihoods.

21
Glaciers Crumble and Sea Levels Rise In This New Weather Channel Immersive Mixed Reality Clip 
https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/9/18302006/sea-level-rise-charleston-norfolk-glaciers-climate-change-the-weather-channel



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.

22
Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: April 09, 2019, 08:53:25 AM »
Midwest Flooding is Causing an Exodus of U.S. Workers   
https://www.axios.com/midwest-flooding-exodus-workers-fc81e561-ad1c-4a90-8582-21f1017a5eff.html

Workers are permanently moving from flood-ravaged towns and cities in the U.S. Midwest, an exodus that could hurt already-struggling manufacturing and agriculture companies, according to a new report.

What's happening: Flooding last month from heavy rains caused more than $3 billion in damage in Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Wisconsin and elsewhere, the AP reports. Among companies sustaining damage were Big Ag's Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill and Tyson.

In a new report provided first to Axios, LinkedIn said members from flood zones are changing their place of residence in considerable numbers.

Based on that, and what workers did in prior natural disasters — Miami for example had a 62.9% increase in net migration in the calendar year after Hurricane Irma in 2017 — LinkedIn forecasts a comparatively large migration to the Southwest in the coming months.

"[W]e expect to see an increase in workers moving to: Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, Seattle, and Phoenix," LinkedIn said.

"It's important to consider that severe weather caused by climate change may have lasting consequences on the economic health and vitality of regions like the Midwest that are already struggling to retain jobs and talent," said Guy Berger, LinkedIn's chief economist.

Agriculture and manufacturing companies, such as Cargill and Tyson, are among those that are likely to be hit hard by the migration of workers to the Southwest, LinkedIn said.

--------------------------

Second 'Bomb Cyclone' in Less than a Month Could Impact the Central US This Week? 
https://amp.mprnews.org/story/updraft/2019/04/ya-sure-you-betcha-another-april-blizzard-likely-by-thursday/
https://www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/extreme-weather-blizzard-bomb-cyclone-plains-midwest-latest-forecast-path-track-today-2019-04-08/



Only three weeks after a "bomb cyclone" — one of the most intense storms on record — pummeled the Plains and Midwest, another bomb cyclone of similar strength has been forecast. This spring storm seems poised to dump even heavier snow; it could also be followed by another round of significant river flooding.   

Over the past few days, various forecast computer models have shown a blizzard of epic proportions for the north-central Plain States and Upper Midwest. Every time a model is updated, the storm depicted seems to get even more intense. At this point, it seems likely that some of the same areas impacted by devastating flooding just weeks ago are about to get slammed by an historic blizzard Wednesday through Friday.

The storm will intensify as it enters the central Great Plains on Wednesday. The barometric pressure may drop to levels nearly as low as during the record-setting bomb cyclone in mid-March. In fact, this storm could tie or set April low pressure records.



The latest computer models put the bullseye for the heaviest snow band from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, through Minneapolis east to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Snow totals could be staggering, with some models showing more than 30 inches in some areas.

Additional flooding in the Plains by the weekend is likely 

23
Trump Administration Sabotages Major Conservation Effort, Defying Congress 
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/08/trump-administration-sabotages-major-conservation-effort-defying-congress

Scientists and officials around the US have told the Guardian that the Trump administration has withdrawn funding for a large, successful conservation program – in direct contradiction of instructions from Congress.

Unique in scale and ambition, the program comprises 22 research centers that tackle big-picture issues affecting huge swaths of the US, such as climate change, flooding and species extinction. They are known as Landscape Conservation Cooperatives – or were, because 16 of them are now on indefinite hiatus or have dissolved.

... Donald Trump made it clear from the beginning that the LCCs – and science funding in general – were not a priority for his administration. His first budget proposal as president eliminated funds for the LCCs, and for other applied research programs run through the interior department. Ensuing budget requests followed the same pattern.   

But Congress decides the federal budget, and it can disregard a president’s proposals. It has consistently rejected these cuts. ... Even so, in 2017 LCCs across the country began to receive the news that they would no longer receive federal support.

“With this administration, very few things come out on email or on paper. There’s very little paper trail. It’s just, this is the way it’s going to be,” said another Fish and Wildlife Service scientist who worked for one of the LCCs. 

Quote
... “I’d say there could be five to six years [of work] down the drain.”

The scientist said that federal support for the LCC program appeared to dry up after the start of an unprecedented political review of scientific research at the interior department, of which the Fish and Wildlife Service is a part. It was led by Steve Howke, a high school friend of the former interior secretary Ryan Zinke. When this review began, said the Fish and Wildlife Service scientist, “it was known that nothing associated with LCCs, would be funded” and they “basically had to kind of wind everything down”

24


Climate Change Group Scrapped by Trump Reassembles to Issue Warning 
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/04/climate-change-trump-advisory-group-report-warning-global-warming

Panel was disbanded after a Trump official voiced concerns that it did not have enough members ‘from industry

A U.S. government climate change advisory group scrapped by Donald Trump has reassembled independently to call for better adaptation to the floods, wildfires, and other threats that increasingly loom over American communities.


The advisory group has since been resurrected, however, following an invitation from New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, and has been financially supported by Columbia University and the American Meteorological Society. It now has 20 expert members.

The panel is now known as the Science to Climate Action Network (Scan) and has now completed work it would have finished for the federal government, releasing a report on Thursday warning that Americans are being put at risk from the impacts of a warming planet due to a muddled response to climate science. 

... We’re only just starting to see the effects of climate change, it’s only going to get much worse. But we haven’t yet rearranged our daily affairs to adapt to science we have,” he added.

... In its new report, the Science to Climate Action Network recommends the creation of a “civil-society-based climate assessment consortium” that would combine private and public interests to provide more localized help for communities menaced by floods, wildfires, or other perils. ...

25
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

26
Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: April 06, 2019, 01:50:28 PM »
Tons of Fish Killed in German River Contamination 
https://dw.com/en/tons-of-fish-killed-in-german-river-contamination/a-48233190

A chemical spill is being blamed for the death of several tons of fish, as well as waterfowl and a deer in southwest Germany. Police have warned local residents to keep their children and animals away from the river.

Authorities in the southwestern German city of Heilbronn on Friday announced that a chemical spill at a local shipping company likely killed every living creature in a 16 kilometer (10 mile) stretch of the Schozach River, a tributary of the Neckar.

... Local fishers say it could take years for the river to recover.

27
Arctic sea ice / Re: Albedo-Warming Potential
« on: April 05, 2019, 04:09:49 PM »
Perhaps one way to look at an open seas metric is to consider it the inverse of ice cover.

If its not covered by ice - it's open water.

e.g. (basin extent - ice cover) = open seas


28
The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: April 04, 2019, 06:37:25 PM »
Life on Mars?
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-04/dg-lom040419.php

Researchers from Hungary have discovered embedded organic material in a Martian meteorite found in the late 1970s. The scientists were able to determine the presence of organic matter in mineralised form such as different forms of bacteria within the meteorite, suggesting that life could have existed on the Red Planet.

Officially named ALH-77005, the Martian meteorite was found in the Allan Hills on Antarctica during the mission of the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research between 1977 and 1978. The new study proposes the presence of active bacteria on Mars. Their research also suggests that there may have been life on other planets.

Open Access: Ildikó Gyollai et al, Mineralized biosignatures in ALH-77005 Shergottite - Clues to Martian Life?, Open Astronomy (2019)


Who knew they had Fox News on Mars.

29
The rest / Re: Systemic Isolation
« on: April 04, 2019, 06:13:22 PM »
Researchers Develop Way to Control Speed of Light, Send it Backward
https://phys.org/news/2019-04-researchers-develop-way-to-control.html



University of Central Florida researchers have developed a way to control the speed of light. Not only can they speed up a pulse of light and slow it down, they can also make it travel backward.

The results were published recently in the journal Nature Communications.

Previous attempts at controlling the speed of light have included passing light through various materials to adjust its speed. The new technique, however, allows the speed to be adjusted for the first time in the open, without using any pass-through material to speed it up or slow it down.

"This is the first clear demonstration of controlling the speed of a pulse light in free space," said study co-author Ayman Abouraddy, a professor in UCF's College of Optics and Photonics. "And it opens up doors for many applications, an optical buffer being just one of them, but most importantly it's done in a simple way, that's repeatable and reliable."

Abouraddy and study co-author Esat Kondakci demonstrated they could speed a pulse of light up to 30 times the speed of light, slow it down to half the speed of light, and also make the pulse travel backward.

The researchers were able to develop the technique by using a special device known as a spatial light modulator to mix the space and time properties of light, thereby allowing them to control the velocity of the pulse of light. The mixing of the two properties was key to the technique's success.
...

Open Source: H. Esat Kondakci, Ayman F. Abouraddy, Optical space-time wave packets having arbitrary group velocities in free space, Nature Communications volume 10, Article number: 929 (2019)

Abstract:
Controlling the group velocity of an optical pulse typically requires traversing a material or structure whose dispersion is judiciously crafted. Alternatively, the group velocity can be modified in free space by spatially structuring the beam profile, but the realizable deviation from the speed of light in vacuum is small. Here we demonstrate precise and versatile control over the group velocity of a propagation-invariant optical wave packet in free space through sculpting its spatio-temporal spectrum. By jointly modulating the spatial and temporal degrees of freedom, arbitrary group velocities are unambiguously observed in free space above or below the speed of light in vacuum, whether in the forward direction propagating away from the source or even traveling backwards towards it.

------------------------------


Warp 9: Make it so!


30
Science / Re: Earthquakes and climate change
« on: April 03, 2019, 09:45:22 PM »
Thanks Tor ...

----------------------------------

California's Current Earthquake Hiatus is an Unlikely Pause
https://phys.org/news/2019-04-california-current-earthquake-hiatus.html

There have been no major ground rupturing earthquakes along California's three highest slip rate faults in the past 100 years. A new study published in Seismological Research Letters concludes that this current "hiatus" has no precedent in the past 1000 years.

U.S. Geological Survey researchers Glenn Biasi and Kate Scharer analyzed long paleoseismic records from the San Andreas, San Jacinto and Hayward Faults for the past 1000 years, to determine how likely it might be to have a 100-year gap in earthquakes across the three faults. They found that the gap was very unlikely—along the lines of a 0.3% chance of occurring, given the seismic record of the past 1000 years.

The results emphasize that the hiatus is exceptional, and that the gap isn't some sort of statistical fluke created by incomplete paleoseismic records, said Biasi.

The analysis also indicates that the next 100 years of California earthquakes along these faults could be a busy one, he noted. "If our work is correct, the next century isn't going to be like the last one, but could be more like the century that ended in 1918."

"We know these big faults have to carry most of the [tectonic] motion in California, and sooner or later they have to slip," said Biasi. "The only questions are how they're going to let go and when."



"The Current Unlikely Earthquake Hiatus at California's Transform Boundary Paleoseismic Sites," Seismological Research Letters (2019)

------------------------------

From 2016 ... still waiting (no hurry)

Massive Earthquake Along the San Andreas Fault Is Disturbingly Imminent
https://gizmodo.com/massive-earthquake-on-the-san-andreas-fault-is-disturbi-1787279784

A series of quakes under the Salton Sea may be a signal that the San Andreas Fault is on the verge of buckling. For the next few days, the risk of a major earthquake along the fault is as high as 1 in 100. Which, holy crap.

The swarm is located near a set of cross-faults that are connected to the southernmost end of the San Andreas Fault. Troublingly, some of these cross-faults could be adding stress to the San Andreas Fault when they shift and grind deep underground. Given this region’s history of major earthquakes, it’s got some people a bit nervous.

... “Swarm-like activity in this region has occurred in the past, so this week’s activity, in and of itself, is not necessarily cause for alarm,” cautions the USGS.

That being said, this is only the third swarm that has been recorded in this area since sensors were installed in 1932, and it’s much worse than the ones recorded in 2001 and 2009. This particular stretch of the San Andreas Fault hasn’t ruptured since 1680, and given that big quakes in this area happen about once every 150 to 200 years, this fault line is considerably overdue.




Should the Big One hit, it won’t be pretty. Models predict a quake across the southern half of California with a magnitude around 7.8. Such a quake would cause an estimated 1,800 deaths, 50,000 injuries, and over $200 billion in damage.

31
Consequences / Re: Decline in insect populations
« on: April 03, 2019, 09:33:32 PM »
German State to Accept Environmentalists' Bee-Saving Plan
https://phys.org/news/2019-04-german-state-environmentalists-bee-saving.html

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.

32
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:

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,1578.msg192698.html#msg192698

33
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.

34
Consequences / Re: Heatwaves
« on: April 03, 2019, 12:13:19 PM »
Bleaching Hits World's Southernmost Coral Reef 
https://phys.org/news/2019-04-world-southernmost-coral-reef-scientists.html

... The corals off Lord Howe Island—some 600 kilometres (370 miles) offshore from Sydney—were affected by elevated temperatures this summer, despite escaping severe bleaching that damaged the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017.

"It's a canary in the coal mine that we are seeing bleaching at this very isolated southernmost reef, which is worrying," Associate Professor Bill Leggat of the University of Newcastle told AFP.

Leggat and other scientists from several Australian universities and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found severe bleaching of up to 90 percent at Lord Howe's inshore, shallow lagoon reefs.

35
Glaciers / Re: Icelandic Glaciers
« on: April 02, 2019, 01:30:29 AM »
Tourists Flee Wave from Glacier Collapse
https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-47779633/tourists-flee-huge-wave-caused-by-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.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breiðamerkurjökull

36
The rest / Re: Archaeology/Paleontology news
« on: April 01, 2019, 03:30:00 AM »
Stunning Fossils Discovery Details the Day Dinosaurs Were Wiped Out 
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-million-year-old-deathbed-linked-dinosaur-killing-meteor.html



Buried for 66 million years, a prehistoric graveyard is revealing what happened in the minutes after a giant asteroid slammed into the Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs, a new study says.

The site, part of the Hell Creek Formation in what is now North Dakota, used to lie along an inland sea that divided North America into two land masses.

“Essentially, what we've got there is the geologic equivalent of high-speed film of the very first moments after the impact,” paleontologist Robert DePalma, the study's lead author, told National Geographic.

Perfectly preserved fossils of fish, animals and plants at the site, which is nicknamed Tanis, offer a detailed recording of what happened immediately after the killer asteroid struck off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, according to the study to be published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Some of the fossilized fish at the site inhaled tiny glass beads (tekites) formed by the impact.

... “This is the first mass death assemblage of large organisms anyone has found associated with the K-T boundary,” DePalma said. “At no other K-T boundary section on Earth can you find such a collection consisting of a large number of species representing different ages of organisms and different stages of life, all of which died at the same time, on the same day.” 

... We are looking at the moment-by-moment records of one of the most notable impact events in Earth’s history. No other site has a record quite like that. And this particular event is tied directly to all of us — to every mammal on Earth, in fact. Because this is essentially where we inherited the planet. Nothing was the same after that impact. It became a planet of mammals rather than a planet of dinosaurs."

"Prelude to Extinction: a seismically induced onshore surge deposit at the KPg boundary, North Dakota," by Robert DePalma et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019

37
Consequences / Re: Heatwaves
« on: April 01, 2019, 02:59:24 AM »
Alaska Bakes Under Heat Wave Linked to Climate Change   
https://m.phys.org/news/2019-03-alaska-linked-climate.html

March 2019 may prove to be the warmest March on record for many places in Alaska, with temperatures for some northern cities and towns potentially soaring 25 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit above normal

... cities and towns in the northern half of the state, including Wainwright, Nuiqsut, Kaktovik and Barrow (also known as Utqiagvik), could see temperatures soar 25 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (14 to 22 Celsius) above normal this weekend as the warm trend continues.

"At Barrow, through yesterday, they've had daily record high temperatures five separate days this month ... and that's quite an achievement," Thoman said.

"This is following on the heels of the very warm, and in some places record warm February," he added. "We now have April or May weather in March."

Thoman predicts the warm streak to continue through April, with the highest temperature spikes expected in the western part of the state



38
The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: April 01, 2019, 02:35:37 AM »
Meteor Lights Up the Night Sky Over Northern Florida
https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/03/31/us/meteor-florida-trnd/index.html



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


https://mobile.twitter.com/NWSTallahassee/status/1112215533871681537

The National Weather Service said it heard unconfirmed reports that the meteor landed near Perry, Florida, some 55 miles southeast of Tallahassee.


https://mobile.twitter.com/CIMSS_Satellite/status/1112373569068171269
Zoom in on box at center right

39
The rest / Re: Arctic Café
« on: March 31, 2019, 07:10:45 AM »
Optical illusion helps Louvre's famous pyramid turn 30
https://m.dw.com/en/optical-illusion-helps-louvres-famous-pyramid-turn-30/g-48130758



The world's largest art museum may be more than 200 years old, but its iconic entrance — a glass pyramid — didn't arrive until 1989. To mark the structure's 30th anniversary, street artist JR was commissioned to design an optical illusion made of paper strips. The temporary collage, when viewed from above, gives the famed 21-meter-high (nearly 70-foot-high) pyramid dizzying added depth.

40
Consequences / Re: Hurricane Season 2019
« on: March 30, 2019, 11:13:38 PM »
Cholera Is Spreading In Mozambique In the Wake of Cyclone Idai   
https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/3/29/18287342/mozambique-cyclone-idai-cholera-how-to-help

... Reports indicate that there are 139 cases of cholera in the port city Beira, Mozambique, and that number is expected to rise (no cases have been reported yet in Zimbabwe or Malawi). There are no confirmed deaths from cholera so far.

If V. cholerae starts spreading, it can be difficult to control. Outbreaks usually happen when a country’s health, hygiene, and water systems break down — and that’s why they can appear after a natural disaster or amid a humanitarian crisis.

... Making matters worse “Cyclone Idai’s wreckage came on top of an already serious food insecurity situation in Mozambique,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reports. “From September to December 2018, an estimated 1.78 million people... were severely food insecure in the country.” Those problems are now exacerbated by the storm. The United Nations World Food Programme has classified the situation in Mozambique as its highest-level emergency.

And that brings us back to cholera spreading in Beira.

“Malnutrition and cholera are interconnected,” Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen told the Washington Post. “Weakened and hungry people are more likely to contract cholera and cholera is more likely to flourish in places where malnutrition exists.”

--------------------------

Mozambique Cholera Cases Double in 48 Hours 
https://dw.com/en/mozambique-cholera-cases-double-in-48-hours/a-48132887

Having survived a monumental cyclone and widespread flooding, people are now facing a cholera crisis. Almost a million doses of cholera vaccine are on their way, but in the meantime, the number of cases is exploding.

The number of reported cases of cholera in Mozambique has doubled in 48 hours, authorities said.

- 271 cases of cholera have been reported in the port city of Beira. Suspected cases were also reported in the hard-hit areas of Buzi, Tica and Nhamathanda.

41
Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: March 30, 2019, 11:04:41 PM »
U.S. Judge Scraps Trump Order Opening Arctic, Atlantic Areas to Oil Leasing   
https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKCN1RB0FP

A federal judge in Alaska has overturned U.S. President Donald Trump’s attempt to open vast areas of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans to oil and gas leasing.

The decision issued late Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason leaves intact President Barack Obama’s policies putting the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea, part of the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea and a large swath of Atlantic Ocean off the U.S. East Coast off-limits to oil leasing.

Trump's attempt to undo Obama’s protections was “unlawful” and a violation of the federal Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Gleason ruled.

42
Consequences / Re: Floods
« on: March 30, 2019, 10:55:51 PM »
Midwest Floods Have Reached Superfund Sites in Three States, EPA Says   
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-26/midwest-floods-reach-superfund-sites-in-three-states-epa-says

Major flooding across the U.S. Midwest has reached at least eight Superfund sites in three states, and kept EPA staff from determining whether any are leaking toxic chemicals as a result.

The Environmental Protection Agency said it is unable to access the sites containing arsenic, benzene, cyanide and other toxins, because of the floodwaters inundating the facilities.




The affected sites include a defunct ordnance plant, a chemical disposal facility and a former manufactured-gas plant, and some contain radioactive waste in addition to dangerous chemicals. At least three of those sites already faced the risk of contaminated groundwater movement before the flooding started earlier this month, according to EPA data.

... At the Iowa-Nebraska Light & Power Co. site, in the small city of Norfolk, “fieldwork is delayed due to road closures,” Sauerhage said. Even before this month’s floods, the contaminated groundwater beneath the site was already moving toward Norfolk’s municipal well field half a mile away, according to information on the EPA’s website. 

... In Kansas City, the Conservation Chemical Co. site, which stored and disposed chemicals from the 1960s to the 1980s, “is partially flooded,” according to Sauerhage. The EPA’s website says groundwater on the site contains cyanide and other dangerous compounds.

... The risk of chemical exposure is likely to expand to other sites around the region. Federal weather officials warned this week of “record flooding from now through May.”

The EPA has long warned that more intense flooding caused by climate change threatened to dislodge chemicals around Superfund sites. In 2014, the agency released a so-called Climate Adaptation Plan, which said that “inundation and flooding may lead to transport of contaminants through surface soils, ground water, surface waters and/or coastal waters.”

43
The rest / Re: The Trump Presidency
« on: March 30, 2019, 07:09:59 AM »
US Reveals Secret Deal to Sell Nuclear Tech to Saudi Arabia 
https://dw.com/en/us-reveals-secret-deal-to-sell-nuclear-tech-to-saudi-arabia/a-48107484

The Donald Trump administration has granted permission to unspecified US companies to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia and provide technical assistance, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday 

The companies have asked the administration to keep the approvals secret.

The oil-rich kingdom is set to build at least two nuclear power plants, with several countries, including the US, South Korea, and Russia, all vying for the project. However, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has also stated that his country would also seek to develop nuclear weapons if its Iranian rivals obtained it.

The news of the approvals comes only months since Saudi operatives brutally killed and dismembered US-based reporter Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018.

... "If you cannot trust a regime with a bone-saw, you should not trust them with nuclear weapons," one lawmaker responded. Many in Congress fear Riyadh could use American technology to develop a nuclear bomb.


44
Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: March 30, 2019, 07:07:25 AM »
US Reveals Secret Deal to Sell Nuclear Tech to Saudi Arabia 
https://dw.com/en/us-reveals-secret-deal-to-sell-nuclear-tech-to-saudi-arabia/a-48107484

The Donald Trump administration has granted permission to unspecified US companies to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia and provide technical assistance, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday 

The companies have asked the administration to keep the approvals secret.

The oil-rich kingdom is set to build at least two nuclear power plants, with several countries, including the US, South Korea, and Russia, all vying for the project. However, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has also stated that his country would also seek to develop nuclear weapons if its Iranian rivals obtained it.

The news of the approvals comes only months since Saudi operatives brutally killed and dismembered US-based reporter Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018.

... "If you cannot trust a regime with a bone-saw, you should not trust them with nuclear weapons," one lawmaker responded. Many in Congress fear Riyadh could use American technology to develop a nuclear bomb.


45
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   
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-climate-extremes-maize-production-norm.html

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: https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/adaptation/what_en

46
The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: March 29, 2019, 02:33:33 AM »
New Evidence of Deep Groundwater on Mars   
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-evidence-deep-groundwater-mars.html



In mid-2018, researchers supported by the Italian Space Agency detected the presence of a deep-water lake on Mars under its south polar ice caps. Now, researchers at the USC Arid Climate and Water Research Center (AWARE) have published a study that suggests deep groundwater could still be active on Mars and could originate surface streams in some near-equatorial areas on Mars.

The researchers at USC have determined that groundwater likely exists in a broader geographical area than just the poles of Mars and that there is an active system, as deep as 750 meters, from which groundwater comes to the surface through cracks in the specific craters they analyzed

"The experience we gained from our research in desert hydrology was the cornerstone in reaching this conclusion. We have seen the same mechanisms in the North African Sahara and in the Arabian Peninsula, and it helped us explore the same mechanism on Mars," said Abotalib Z. Abotalib, the paper's first author.

The two scientists concluded that fractures within some of Mars' craters, enabled water springs to rise up to the surface as a result of pressure deep below. These springs leaked onto the surface, generating the sharp and distinct linear features found on the walls of these craters. The scientists also provide an explanation on how these water features fluctuate with seasonality on Mars. ...

A deep groundwater origin for recurring slope linea on Mars, Nature Geoscience (2019

------------------------

Rivers Raged on Mars Until 1 Billion Years Ago 
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-rivers-raged-mars-late-history.html

A new study by University of Chicago scientists catalogued these rivers to conclude that significant river runoff persisted on Mars later into its history than previously thought. According to the study, published March 27 in Science Advances, the runoff was intense—rivers on Mars were wider than those on Earth today—and occurred at hundreds of locations on the red planet.

This means that there were rivers throughout Mars' history, rather than at certain moments, and that they survived even as shallow seas and lakes dried up. That lasted right up until the end of Mars' more wet era, which ended around a billion years ago   

... The size of the rivers implies the water was flowing continuously, not just at high noon, so climate modelers need to account for a strong greenhouse effect to keep the planet warm enough for average daytime temperatures above the freezing point of water.

The rivers also show strong flow up to the last geological minute before the wet climate dries up. "You would expect them to wane gradually over time, but that's not what we see," Kite said. The rivers get shorter—hundreds of kilometers rather than thousands—but discharge is still strong. "The wettest day of the year is still very wet."



Open Access: E.S. Kite el al., "Persistence of intense, climate-driven runoff late in Mars history," Science Advances (2019)

---------------------

NASA Is Working With Blue Origin on a Lunar Lander 
https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/space-flight/nasa-has-been-working-with-blue-origin-on-a-lunar-lander

In October, NASA signed a previously unreported Space Act Agreement “for the purpose of collaboration with Blue Origin to advance medium-to-large commercial lunar surface lander systems.”

Under the agreement, Blue Origin promised to pay NASA nearly US $50,000 to “leverage the unique capabilities, expertise, and knowledge of NASA in multiple technology areas to help to optimally design and develop such capabilities for both NASA and commercial missions.”

Blue Origin revealed its plans for a robotic lunar lander, called Blue Moon, in early 2017. Jeff Bezos has long dreamed of shifting heavy industry into space and wrote last October that “the next logical step in this path is a return to the moon. To do this we need reusable access to the lunar surface and its resources.”

In the Space Act arrangement, NASA would provide Blue Origin with the in-space trajectory analysis software called Copernicus, to help plan Blue Moon’s journey. The agency would also supply reports and studies about a return to the moon, including surveys of potential landing sites.

This was not the first agreement between NASA and Blue Origin concerning spacecraft beyond Earth orbit. In late 2017, the two organizations signed a vaguely worded $750,000 agreement to “[accelerate] the development and testing of critical technologies for emerging space system capabilities.” Although the agreement itself did not specify the work involved, a spreadsheet summarizing NASA’s contracts describes the project as a liquid oxygen/methane “lander propulsion collaboration.”


47
New York State Set to Ban Plastic Bags 
https://www.thedailybeast.com/new-york-state-lawmakers-set-to-ban-plastic-bags

... New York will be the second state to impose a plastic bag ban, after California. All of Hawaii’s counties also have banned single-use bags.

48
Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: March 29, 2019, 01:29:49 AM »
Mass Amphibian Extinctions Happening Now Globally
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-mass-amphibian-extinctions-globally-fungal.html



An international study led by The Australian National University (ANU) has found a fungal disease has caused dramatic population declines in more than 500 amphibian species, including 90 extinctions, over the past 50 years.

Lead researcher Dr. Ben Scheele said the team found that chytridiomycosis is responsible for the greatest loss of biodiversity due to a disease.

... "Humans are moving plants and animals around the world at an increasingly rapid rate, introducing pathogens into new areas."

... Dr. Scheele said the team's work identified that many species were still at high risk of extinction over the next 10-20 years from chytridiomycosis due to ongoing declines.

Open Access: B.C. Scheele el al., "Amphibian fungal panzootic causes catastrophic and ongoing loss of biodiversity," Science (2019)

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Action Demanded After 1,100 Dead Dolphins Wash Up in France   
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-dolphins-french-shores-year.html

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New England Seeing a Huge Spike in Beached Sea Turtles 
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-england-huge-spike-beached-sea.html

49
Consequences / Re: Volcanoes
« on: March 29, 2019, 01:16:28 AM »
Mexico Raises Alert Level as Volcano Spews Ash, Lava
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-mexico-volcano-spews-ash-lava.html



Mexico raised the warning level for the Popocatepetl volcano to one step shy of a red alert Thursday, after it repeatedly spewed ash, smoke and lava into the air.

... Popocatepetl has not had a massive eruption in more than 1,000 years.

But it has shown increased activity over the past 25 years, and is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because some 25 million people live within a 100-kilometer (60-mile) radius

50
Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: March 29, 2019, 12:53:36 AM »
QG: ... The lady doth protest too much, methinks
- Act III, Scene II - Hamlet

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Climate Change: Global Impacts 'Accelerating' - WMO
https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/science-environment-47723577

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says that the physical and financial impacts of global warming are accelerating.

Record greenhouse gas levels are driving temperatures to "increasingly dangerous levels", it says.

Their report comes in the same week as the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported a surge in CO2 in 2018

This year's State of the Climate report from the WMO is the 25th annual record of the climate. 

... "We know that if the current trajectory for greenhouse gas concentrations continues, temperatures may increase by 3 - 5 degrees C compared to pre-industrial levels by the end of the century and we have already reached 1 degree." ...

- According to the report, most of the natural hazards that affected nearly 62 million people in 2018 were associated with extreme weather and climate events.
- Some 35 million people were hit by floods.
- Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael were just two of 14 "billion dollar disasters" in 2018 in the US.
- Super Typhoon Mangkhut affected 2.4 million people in and killed 134, mainly in the Philippines.
- More than 1,600 deaths were linked to heat waves and wildfires in Europe, Japan and US.
- Kerala in India suffered the heaviest rainfall and worst flooding in nearly a century

... "There is no longer any time for delay," - foreword to the new study.

However earlier this week the International Energy Agency published worrying data , indicating that in 2018 carbon emissions were up 1.7%, as a result of the fastest growth in energy use in the last six years.

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