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Messages - vox_mundi

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1
The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: Today at 12:04:35 AM »
And Now For the Weather On Mars 
https://m.phys.org/news/2019-02-weather-mars-courtesy-nasa-lander.html



NASA's newest lander is offering daily reports on the red planet's frigid winter. 

Starting Tuesday, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is posting the highs and lows online , along with wind speed and atmospheric pressure from the InSight lander.

On Sunday, InSight recorded a high of 2 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 17 Celsius) and a low of minus 138 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 95 Celsius).

Scientists need to know the local Mars weather to determine if InSight's seismometer is registering real marsquakes or simply wind or pressure changes.

https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/weather/

2
Consequences / Re: Conservative Scientists & its Consequences
« on: February 19, 2019, 05:05:08 PM »
Scientist Who Popularized Term "Global Warming" Dies at 87
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-scientist-popularized-term-global-dies.html

A scientist who raised early alarms about climate change and popularized the term "global warming" has died. Wallace Smith Broecker was 87.

Broecker brought "global warming" into common use with a 1975 article that correctly predicted rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would lead to pronounced warming. He later became the first person to recognize what he called the Ocean Conveyor Belt, a global network of currents affecting everything from air temperature to rain patterns.

... "He wasn't fooled by the cooling of the 1970s. He saw clearly the unprecedented warming now playing out and made his views clear, even when few were willing to listen."

Broecker said his studies suggested that the conveyor is the "Achilles heel of the climate system" and a fragile phenomenon that can change rapidly for reasons not understood. It would take only a slight rise in temperature to keep water from sinking in the North Atlantic, he said, and that would bring the conveyor to a halt. Broecker said it is possible that warming caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases could be enough to affect the ocean currents dramatically.

"Broecker single-handedly popularized the notion that this could lead to a dramatic climate change 'tipping point' and, more generally, Broecker helped communicate to the public and policymakers the potential for abrupt climate changes and unwelcome 'surprises' as a result of climate change," said Penn State professor Michael Mann.

In 1984, Broecker told a House subcommittee that the buildup of greenhouse gases warranted a "bold, new national effort aimed at understanding the operation of the realms of the atmosphere, oceans, ice and terrestrial biosphere."

Quote
... "We live in a climate system that can jump abruptly from one state to another," ... By dumping into the atmosphere huge amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, "we are conducting an experiment that could have devastating effects." ... "We're playing with an angry beast—a climate system that has been shown to be very sensitive"

- W.S. Broecker - Associated Press in 1997


RIP

3
Consequences / Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« on: February 18, 2019, 03:29:01 AM »
Biologists Are Trying to Make Bird Flu Easier to Spread. Can We Not? 
https://www.vox.com/2019/2/17/18225938/biologists-are-trying-to-make-bird-flu-easier-to-spread-can-we-not



Bird flu is a deadly virus with the potential to spark a global pandemic. Now, thanks to the US government, two lab experiments - trying to find ways to make it more dangerous - will resume their work after years on hold. 

Science Magazine last week broke the news that the US had quietly approved the two dangerous and controversial experiments. One of them will begin within the next few weeks. The other is expected to begin later this spring. The two had been on hold since 2012 amid a fierce debate in the virology community about gain-of-function (increased lethality) research. In 2014, the U.S. government declared a moratorium on such research.

That was a bad year on the biohazard front. In June 2014, as many as 75 scientists at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention were exposed to anthrax. A few weeks later, Food and Drug Administration officials ran across 16 forgotten vials of smallpox in storage. Meanwhile, the “largest, most severe and most complex” Ebola outbreak in history was raging across West Africa, and the first patient to be diagnosed in the U.S. had just been announced.

In 2017, the government released new guidelines for gain-of-function research, signaling an end to the blanket moratorium. And the news from last week suggests that dangerous projects are proceeding.



Experts in biosecurity are concerned that the field is heading toward a mistake that could kill many innocent people. They argue that, to move ahead with research like this, there should be a transparent process with global stakeholders at the table. After all, if anything goes wrong, the mess we’ll face will certainly be a global one. 

Quote
What Gain-of-Function Research Looks Like

In 2001, an Australian research team went to work on what was intended to be a contraceptive virus for pest control, targeting mice. Instead of sterilizing the mice, the Ectromelia virus the scientists were using killed the mice — all of them.

In 2011, two different groups of researchers announced plans to publish research in which they’d modified H5N1 — in ferrets, not in humans — to make it transmissible through the air. H5N1 has killed more than half of people it infects

Now, both of these labs have been given the green light to increase the lethality of bird flu.

... “Do you think we have problems with anti-vaxxers now?” If vaccine research, however well-intentioned, results in dangerous diseases escaping the lab, things could get a great deal worse.

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

EXCLUSIVE: Controversial experiments that could make bird flu more risky poised to resume
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/exclusive-controversial-experiments-make-bird-flu-more-risky-poised-resume

4
The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: February 17, 2019, 12:28:38 AM »
Wouldn't want to get closer than 100 light-years of that puppy when it blows.

https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/supernove-distance

5
Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars. And trucks, and....
« on: February 16, 2019, 07:12:21 PM »
Electrification May Disrupt the Automotive Supply Chain
https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/IF11101.pdf

The shift to electric vehicles and away from internal combustion engines is likely to have significant consequences for the U.S. automobile assembly and parts manufacturing industries. A widespread shift to electric vehicles has the potential to eliminate large numbers of jobs in vehicle and parts production, even if the vehicles are assembled in the United States.

In a conventional vehicle, the powertrain includes the engine, the drivetrain—the components and system that provide power to the wheels—as well as other associated components, such as the transmission, engine cooling and exhaust systems, and emissions control. Most passenger vehicles on the road today have an internal combustion engine, fueled by gasoline or diesel.

Ernst & Young has estimated that vehicles with conventional powertrains have as many as 2,000 components in their powertrains. That number rises when parts used for engine cooling and exhaust and sensors used in emissions control systems are considered. Of the nearly 590,000 U.S. employees engaged in motor vehicle parts manufacturing, about one-quarter—nearly 150,000—make components for internal combustion powertrains.

Electric vehicle powertrains differ substantially from those in conventional vehicles. Instead of the hundreds of moving parts built into a conventional powertrain, an electric vehicle powertrain has only a few. For example, Tesla has said its drivetrain has 17 moving parts, including two in the motor.

No emissions are generated, so all-electric vehicles do not have exhaust systems, mufflers, catalytic converters and tailpipes. Electric vehicle powertrains are also cheaper to maintain and, unlike many internal combustion engines that may deteriorate over time, electric vehicle motors may have lower maintenance costs.

Should electric powertrains displace those used by gasoline over the next decade and beyond, it is likely that both production and engineering jobs will be affected. Much of the mechanical and materials engineering work undertaken by automobile and parts manufacturers could be replaced by jobs requiring different skillsets such as chemical, battery, and software engineering or by imports of lithium ion batteries. Few U.S. universities offer degrees in battery engineering, a skill set that is in short supply even today.

Most manufacturing could be handled by robots.

6
The rest / Re: The Trump Presidency
« on: February 16, 2019, 07:05:20 PM »
Quote
... The use of military forces to perform domestic functions — such as constructing barriers along the US-Mexico border — could pose fundamental legal, policy and administrative challenges.

“Military forces operating freely within civilian jurisdictions risk upsetting the constitutional balance between civil authority, the military, and the private sector,” the Army said this week in a newly updated manual.

Therefore, “Army leaders must ensure that even in a catastrophic event, Army support remains within the boundaries of constitutional principles, U.S. laws, DOD policies, and Army regulations,” the manual said. See Defense Support of Civil Authorities, Army Doctrine Publication 3-28, February 11, 2019.

https://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/2019/02/army-dsca/

7
Antarctica / Re: What's new in Antarctica ?
« on: February 16, 2019, 06:53:17 PM »
More Trophic Cascade Collapse ...

Tiny Invertebrates Spell Big Trouble for Southern Ocean Fish
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-nutritious-diet-southern-ocean-fish.html

Like collapsing ice shelves, the surge of barrel-bodied salps in the Southern Ocean tells us that other life forms in Antarctica and its surrounding waters are in decline. Blooms of a gelatinous plankton, known as salp, have been identified in waters south of 60°S, in the Indian Sector of the Southern Ocean, by researcher Paige Kelly

... "In the Southern Ocean, waters south of 60°S are typically full of Antarctic krill, which are a crucial food source for mammals and fish," says Paige, a Ph.D. student at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre.

"The presence of salps so far south means that these mammals and fish might have to eat salps instead of krill. And this could have serious consequences for the ecosystem."

The consumption of these East Antarctic salps—which contain less than one third of the calories and protein of krill—could change the weight, reproduction and behaviour of commercially fished species that prefer to feed on krill.

When salps are abundant, Antarctic krill are scarce. Krill are a keystone species here. Everything eats them directly or indirectly. Penguins, baleen whales, seals, seabirds and fish, even krill eat krill. No krill, no Antarctica.

Since the 1970s krill populations have dropped by as much as 70 per cent in their most critical habitat, the southwest Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. Krill, especially juveniles, depend on sea ice subsurface matrix of brine channels and crevices, a microcosm of life where innumerable plankton live, feed and hide from predators. Summer krill abundance is correlated with the extent of the previous winter's sea ice.



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

Dutch Scientists Probing Mystery of Mass Bird Deaths
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-dutch-scientists-probing-mystery-mass.html

... Why, for example, are only guillemots dying all along the Dutch coastline? Leopold said he has received no similar reports from Belgium or Germany. "They are pretty robust birds," he said, but now, dead birds are washing up "in their thousands"

"That's pointing out that there is something wrong at sea, and that's alarming."

8
The rest / Re: Arctic Café
« on: February 16, 2019, 06:24:33 PM »
What Makes Some People Creative Thinkers and Others Analytical?
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-02-people-creative-thinkers-analytical.html



Are you a more creative or analytical thinker?

Analytical thinkers are particularly good at solving clear-cut problems by methodically working through the possibilities. Creative thinkers are more likely to have flashes of insight, or "aha moments," that can leapfrog over many steps of thinking to solve problems that are fuzzy or complex.

A new brain-imaging study from Drexel University's Creativity Research Lab reveals that the different "cognitive styles" of creative and analytical thinkers are due to fundamental differences in their brain activity that can be observed even when people are not working on a problem.

Analysts showed higher levels of activity in their frontal lobes. Insightfuls showed more activity in posterior brain areas, specifically, the temporal and parietal lobes.

A large body of research has shown that the frontal lobe plays a key role in organizing thought and behavior by inhibiting and controlling other parts of the brain. Analysts' high frontal-lobe activity is consistent with their methodical approach to solving the anagrams.

Past research also shows that when frontal-lobe activity is reduced, for example by damage or aging, thinking can become less focused and organized. The lower frontal-lobe activity of the Insightfuls supports a theory that creative insights occur when reduced mental focus allows unconsciously formed patterns or ideas to pop into awareness as "aha moments."


9
Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: February 15, 2019, 06:33:57 PM »
Toxic Black Snow Covers Streets in Siberia - video
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/15/toxic-black-snow-covers-siberian-coalmining-region

Residents of a coal mining region in Siberia have been posting online videos showing entire streets and districts covered in toxic black snow that critics say highlight a man-made ecological catastrophe in which British industry is compliant.

In one video, filmed in Kiselyovsk, a town in the Kuzbass region, a woman drives past mounds of coal-coloured snow stretching to the horizon, covering a children’s playground and the courtyards of residential buildings. The scenes in the footage were described as “post-apocalyptic” by Russian media.

... “It’s harder to find white snow than black snow during the winter,” Vladimir Slivyak, a member of the Ecodefense environmental group, said. “There is a lot of coal dust in the air all the time. When snow falls, it just becomes visible. You can’t see it the rest of the year, but it is still there.”

Officials in Mysky, a town in the region, were mocked recently for painting black snow white in an apparent attempt to improve the appearance of a children’s snow-slide.


10
Antarctica / Re: What's new in Antarctica ?
« on: February 15, 2019, 06:16:31 PM »
Search for Shackleton's Lost Endurance Ship Called Off
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47227657

The attempt this week to find Sir Ernest Shackleton's missing ship, the Endurance, has ended - without success.

A UK-led expedition to the Weddell Sea sent a sub to the ocean floor to look for the sunken polar yacht, but this robot was itself lost in the process.

The team has now withdrawn from the area because of deteriorating weather and sea-ice conditions.

Quote
... "Like Shackleton before us, who described the graveyard of Endurance as 'the worst portion of the worst sea in the world,' our well laid plans were overcome by the rapidly moving ice and what Shackleton called 'the evil conditions of the Weddell Sea,'"


11
Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: February 15, 2019, 06:05:48 PM »
'We have death and devastation at every turn': the flood massacre of Queensland cattle
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/13/we-have-death-and-devastation-at-every-turn-the-flood-massacre-of-queensland-cattle

Cattle farmer Jodi Keough told Seven News she expected to lose half her herd, adding that if authorities do nothing "we're talking about a possible collapse of a primary industry in Australia."


12
The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: February 15, 2019, 05:22:05 PM »
From Chelyabinsk to Cuba: The Meteor Connection
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-chelyabinsk-cuba-meteor.html

... According to the reconstruction made by the Colombian astronomers, the object producing the meteor over Cuba starts its trajectory inside the atmosphere at an altitude of about 76.5 km above the caribean sea, over a point 26 km to the southwest of the San Felipe Keys (Cuba).

The speed of the rock at its contact with the atmosphere was 18 km/s (64,800 km/h). With such a velocity, the thin air of the high atmosphere was not enough to stop the object, although it was enough to heat it until the rock became bright.



The rock continued its path in an almost straight line until a height of around 27.5 km. It was at about that altitude that the smoke trail, observed by thousands in Cuba and in satellite images, started to develop. Zuluaga and coauthors estimate that the cloud seen in Pinar del Rio corresponds to a small part of the trajectory of the meteor (corresponding to altitudes between 26 and 22.5 km). According to the footage on that city and the reconstruction of the Colombians, the airburst ended at about 22 km.

After reconstructing the trajectory in the atmosphere, the Colombian astronomers played back the impact and found that the culprit, a rock with an estimated size of several meters and a weight of about 360 tons, came from an eccentric orbit around the sun with an average distance of 1.3 astronomical units (1 astronomical-unit = 150 million km). Before impacting the Earth, the rock completed a turn around the sun every 1.32 years. All that came to an end on February 1, 2019, when the rock and the Earth found themselves at the same point in space at the same time.

... "We should be prepared for the next projectile."


13
Consequences / Re: Decline in insect populations
« on: February 15, 2019, 03:23:08 PM »
US Judge Rules Against Butterfly Sanctuary Opposed to Trump's Wall
https://m.phys.org/news/2019-02-butterfly-sanctuary-opposed-trump-wall.html

14
Walking the walk / Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« on: February 15, 2019, 04:26:34 AM »
In the U.S. I've found Prairie Moon nursery to be a good source for pollinator friendly seeds mixes. They include larval food sources along with grasses and perennial nectar sources.

The seed mixes are targeted for specific soil types with the goal of improving the soil ecosystem. They also sell in bulk

https://www.prairiemoon.com/seed-mixes/

https://www.prairiemoon.com/tallgrass-exposed-clay-subsoil-seed-mix-prairie-moon-nursery.html

https://www.prairiemoon.com/insectopia-prairie-seed-mix-prairie-moon-nursery.html

https://www.prairiemoon.com/pollinator-palooza-prairie-seed-mix-prairie-moon-nursery.html

https://www.prairiemoon.com/pollinator-favorites/

The Xerxes Society is also a good source for info and sources ...

https://xerces.org

I don't know what is available or native in the E.U.

Hope this helps, Good luck

Edit: Depending on the seed, simply spreading seeds is usually an expensive way of feeding the birds. It might require raking them in a bit.

For E.U sources  http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/conservation/species/pollinators/documents/ieep_2017_pollinator_initiatives_in_eu_member_states.pdf

15
Consequences / Re: Effects on Arctic Wildlife
« on: February 14, 2019, 05:56:20 PM »
Killer Whales Are Expanding into the Arctic, Then Dying as the Ice Sets In
https://www.hakaimagazine.com/news/killer-whales-are-expanding-into-the-arctic-then-dying-as-the-ice-sets-in/

Over the past eight years, researchers have seen more than 20 killer whales trapped by ice.



In February 2016, hunters from Sanikiluaq, Nunavut spotted two killer whales prowling around a group of beluga whales in southeast Hudson Bay. It was an unusual sight for the time of year—killer whales don’t usually show up there until the summer, and are rare even then. In June, residents of the Inuit community spotted two other killer whales. By July, all four killer whales were dead. Trapped in the bay by thick sea ice, they starved to death.

Hudson Bay is a geographically complex inland sea with just two entrances—or exits—both at the north. Most years, the bay freezes over completely from mid-November until mid-July. Killer whales are typically found in the open ocean, but in recent years they have been venturing into the bay during the ice-free summer in search of prey such as belugas or narwhals. As the ice forms across the bay’s entrances in the fall, the only escape for the whales is to swim north. But this goes against their normal instincts, says Steve Ferguson, an evolutionary ecologist from the University of Manitoba. In the open ocean, killer whales would head south, where there is typically less ice. The result is that the killer whales find themselves trapped long into the winter, and, soon after, begin to starve.

Quote
... “Killer whales are super smart; they pass things on culturally,”... Yet these killer whales are naively swimming into the warming bay. If none survives the winter freeze, the warning to stay away can’t be passed on. “If you wipe out an entire group it could take time, not just to recuperate their abundance but to gain the knowledge back”

... these four dead whales are just the latest in a rising tally. In 2011, a killer whale was found frozen in ice in the north of the bay. In 2013, an estimated 17 killer whales were seen swimming in the frigid water, their movements tightly constrained by the drifting pack ice. Most, if not all, of these whales are thought to have died. As far as scientists know, in the Arctic, more killer whales have died in the ice over the past decade than have suffered such a fate over the past century.

16
Policy and solutions / Re: Extinction Rebellion
« on: February 14, 2019, 05:27:30 PM »
Climate Change: Young People Striking from School See It for the Life-threatening Issue It Is
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-climate-young-people-school-life-threatening.html

Today's young people are the first generation to have lived their entire lives under the threat of catastrophic climate change. They're now positioned as future leaders, forced to take urgent action on an issue which older generations have lacked the political will, organisation and authority to address.

... This contagious sense of young people caring and daring to stand up against climate inaction became one of the most salient and hopeful findings of the Climate Change and Me project. And now, we see this finding playing out on a larger scale: while climate change is darkening young people's lives, along with their prospects for a liveable future, we see children and young people using powerful and creative tactics to claim a voice and a political platform in society, and confront the greatest challenge of our age.

17
Consequences / Re: Decline in insect populations
« on: February 14, 2019, 05:07:15 PM »
Germans in Bavaria Rally to Save the Bees
https://www.dw.com/en/germans-in-bavaria-rally-to-save-the-bees/g-47494191

A record 1.75 million Bavarians signed a petition to seek a referendum to "save the bees," a move that could have huge consequences for the German farming industry and environmental protection.

The proposal for a vote to protect species diversity sets a target to have 20 percent of farmland meeting organic standards by 2025, before reaching 30 percent by 2030.

Ten percent of green spaces in Bavaria should also be turned into flowering meadows, while rivers and streams must be better protected from pesticides and organic fertilisers.



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

Border Wall Construction Threatens Texas Butterfly Sanctuary
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/border-wall-construction-threatens-texas-butterfly-sanctuary-180971416/

... U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) designs indicate that the wall will extend to the height of an existing flood control levee next to the Rio Grande river, and be crowned with 18-foot steel posts. CBP also intends to clear a 150-foot “enforcement zone” in front of the wall. Seventy of the National Butterfly Center’s 100 acres will lie south of this new barrier, as will much of the land belonging to the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, which is home to more than 500 bird species, according to Waters.

... the center said that a police officer told them they would not have access to this land, and that the authorities were ordered to stop anyone who tried to set foot on the levee. “Effective Monday morning, it is all government land,” the officer reportedly said.


18
The forum / Re: Arctic Sea Ice Forum Humor
« on: February 14, 2019, 02:33:54 AM »

19
Consequences / Re: Hurricane season 2018
« on: February 13, 2019, 11:53:33 PM »
Brock Long: US Emergency Management Chief Resigns 
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47234227

US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) chief Brock Long has announced his resignation, the latest senior name to leave the Donald Trump administration.

In the post since June 2017, he has led the response to several extreme natural disasters, including the heavily criticised operation in Puerto Rico after a devastating hurricane.

Right after he took over, powerful hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hit in quick succession, devastating parts of Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, where some 3,000 people were killed and residents remained without electricity for months.

Last year, two strong hurricanes, Florence and Michael, hit the south-eastern US. Meanwhile wildfires caused a number of deaths in California.

Mr Long was also involved in a row over the use of government resources.

A report by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general said Mr Long would have to reimburse the government $151,000 (£117,000) related to costs of vehicles and staff involved in private trips, many of them between Washington and his home in North Carolina. 



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

Mediterranean Hurricanes Expected to Increase in Strength by End of Century 
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-mediterranean-hurricanes-strength-century.html

20
The rest / Re: Economic Inequality
« on: February 13, 2019, 06:12:55 PM »
Russian-Style Kleptocracy Is Infiltrating America
https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2019/02/russian-style-kleptocracy-infiltrating-america/154749/

When the U.S.S.R. collapsed, Washington bet on the global spread of democratic capitalist values—and lost.

... Washington had placed its faith in the new regime’s elites; it took them at their word when they professed their commitment to democratic capitalism. But Richard Palmer, the CIA station chief in the United States’ Moscow embassy, had seen up close how the world’s growing interconnectedness—and global finance in particular—could be deployed for ill. During the Cold War, the KGB had developed an expert understanding of the banking byways of the West, and spymasters had become adept at dispensing cash to agents abroad. That proficiency facilitated the amassing of new fortunes. In the dying days of the U.S.S.R., Palmer had watched as his old adversaries in Soviet intelligence shoveled billions from the state treasury into private accounts across Europe and the U.S. It was one of history’s greatest heists.

Washington told itself a comforting story that minimized the importance of this outbreak of kleptomania: These were criminal outliers and rogue profiteers rushing to exploit the weakness of the new state. This narrative infuriated Palmer. He wanted to shake Congress into recognizing that the thieves were the very elites who presided over every corner of the system. “For the U.S. to be like Russia is today,” he explained to the House committee, “it would be necessary to have massive corruption by the majority of the members at Congress as well as by the Departments of Justice and Treasury, and agents of the FBI, CIA, DIA, IRS, Marshal Service, Border Patrol; state and local police officers; the Federal Reserve Bank; Supreme Court justices …” In his testimony, Palmer even mentioned Russia’s newly installed and little-known prime minister (whom he mistakenly referred to as Boris Putin), accusing him of “helping to loot Russia.”

The United States, Palmer made clear, had allowed itself to become an accomplice in this plunder. His assessment was unsparing. The West could have turned away this stolen cash; it could have stanched the outflow to shell companies and tax havens. Instead, Western banks waved Russian loot into their vaults.

... this was capital flight on an unprecedented scale, and mere prologue to an era of rampant theft. When the Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman studied the problem in 2015, he found that 52 percent of Russia’s wealth resided outside the country.

As in the Russian case, much of this plundered wealth finds its way to the United States. New York, Los Angeles, and Miami have joined London as the world’s most desired destinations for laundered money. This boom has enriched the American elites who have enabled it—and it has degraded the nation’s political and social mores in the process. While everyone else was heralding an emergent globalist world that would take on the best values of America, Palmer had glimpsed the dire risk of the opposite: that the values of the kleptocrats would become America’s own. This grim vision is now nearing fruition.



... Every House district in the country has real estate, and lobbyists for that business had pleaded for relief from the PATRIOT Act’s monitoring of dubious foreign transactions. T... And they persuaded Congress to grant the industry a temporary exemption from having to enforce the new law (International Money Laundering Abatement and Anti-terrorist Financing Act).

Around the time that Trump took up occupancy in the White House, the PATRIOT Act’s “temporary” exemption for real estate entered its 15th year. Without anyone ever declaring it so, the ephemeral has been enshrined.

Much of the money that might have snuck into banks before the PATRIOT Act became law was now used to purchase property. The New York Times described the phenomenon in a series of exposés, published in 2015, called “Towers of Secrecy.” Reporters discovered that condos in the ultra-luxe Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in Manhattan were owned by a constellation of kleptocrats. One condo belonged to the family of a former Russian senator whose suspected ties to organized crime precluded him from legally entering Canada for a few years. A condo down the hall belonged to a Greek businessman who had recently been arrested in an anti-government-corruption sweep. The family of a former Colombian governor, imprisoned for self-enrichment while in office, owned a unit he could no longer visit.

As the Treasury Department put it in 2017, nearly one in three high-end real-estate purchases that it monitors involves an individual whom the government has been tracking as “suspicious.” Yet somehow the presence of so many shady buyers has never especially troubled the real-estate industry or, for that matter, politicians. In 2013, New York City’s then-mayor, Michael Bloomberg, asked, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get all the Russian billionaires to move here?

The warm welcome has created a strange dissonance in American policy. Take the case of the aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a character who has made recurring cameos in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The State Department, concerned about Deripaska’s connections to Russian organized crime (which he has denied), has restricted his travel to the United States for years. Such fears have not stood in the way of his acquiring a $42.5 million mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and another estate near Washington’s Embassy Row. ...


21
Glaciers / Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« on: February 13, 2019, 05:23:45 PM »
Glacial Ice Volume Calculated Anew
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-02/ez-ivc021219.php

Researchers have provided a new estimate for the glacier ice volume all around the world, excluding the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Their conclusion: previous calculations overestimated the volume of the glaciers in High Mountain Asia.

Led by ETH Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, an international team of glaciologists used a combination of different numerical models to calculate the ice thickness distribution and the ice volume of some 215,000 glaciers around the world. The researchers excluded sea ice and glaciers that are connected to the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets from their calculations.

According to the study, the combined ice volume of all considered glaciers currently amounts to some 158,000 cubic kilometres (km3). The last available estimate - dating a few years ago - was around 18 percent higher. The largest glacier ice masses (some 75,000 km3) are found in the Arctic and account for almost half of the global glacier ice volume. They include glaciers in both the Canadian and the Russian Arctic - such as those found on Baffin Island and the Novaya Zemlya archipelago - as well as glaciers along the Greenland coast and the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.

Quote
... "In light of these new calculations, we have to assume that glaciers in High Mountain Asia might disappear more quickly than we thought so far," says Daniel Farinotti, Professor of Glaciology at the Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW) at ETH Zurich and at the WSL.

Previously, researchers had estimated that the area covered by glaciers in this region would halve by the 2070s.This is now expected to happen in the 2060s - with perceptible consequences for local water supplies. The glaciers of High Asia, in fact, feed into large rivers, including the Indus, the Tarim and rivers feeding into the Aral Sea. Hundreds of millions of people depend on them.

For the above regions and depending on the model, researchers expect summer meltwater volumes to be as much as 24 percent lower by the end of the century as they are today. “This difference is unsettling.

A consensus estimate for the ice thickness distribution of all glaciers on Earth
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0300-3

22
Antarctica / Re: What's new in Antarctica ?
« on: February 13, 2019, 05:02:37 PM »
Ice Shelves Buckle Under Weight of Meltwater Lakes
https://cires.colorado.edu/news/ice-shelves-buckle-under-weight-meltwater-lakes



For the first time, a research team co-led by CIRES-based scientists, has directly observed an Antarctic ice shelf bending under the weight of ponding meltwater on top, a phenomenon that may have triggered the 2002 collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf. And ice shelf flexure could potentially impact other vulnerable ice shelves, causing them to break up, quickening the discharge of ice into the ocean and contributing to global sea level rise

Meltwater lakes can contain water weighing fifty thousand to two million tons each, and that pushes downward on the ice, creating an indent. If the lake drains, this indent pops back up. If the resultant stress is large enough, the ice surrounding the lake basin weakens, and may start to break, the researchers predict.



And climate models predict that there will be more melting across more ice shelves over the next few decades, leading to an increase in the occurrence of meltwater lakes,” added Willis.

These observations are important because they help us better understand the triggers of ice shelf break up, which leads to sea level rise,” said Banwell. “Our results can be used to improve models to better predict which ice shelves are more vulnerable and are most susceptible to collapse.

Open Access: Direct measurements of ice-shelf flexure caused by surface meltwater ponding and drainage
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08522-5

23
Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: February 13, 2019, 04:54:17 PM »
Undersea Gases Could Superheat the Planet
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-02/uosc-ugc021219.php
https://news.usc.edu/153926/how-undersea-carbon-reservoirs-once-helped-superheat-earth/


A deep-sea reservoir near Taiwan spews carbon dioxide when its slurry-like hydrate cap ruptures. Credit: National Academy of Sciences

The new study by scientists at USC, the Australian National University and Lund University in Sweden, focused on the Eastern Equatorial Pacific (EEP) hundreds of miles off the coast of Ecuador. The EEP is a primary conduit through which the ocean releases carbon to the atmosphere.

The new findings challenge a long-standing paradigm that ocean water alone regulated carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during glacial cycles. Instead, the study shows geologic processes can dramatically upset the carbon cycle and cause global change.

The scientists report evidence of deep-sea hydrothermal systems releasing greenhouse gases to the ocean and atmosphere at the end of the last ice age, just as the oceans were beginning to warm. ...  the new data show that there were major releases of naturally occurring carbon from the EEP, which contributed to dramatic change in Earth's temperature as the ice age was ending, the study says.

If undersea carbon reservoirs are upset again, they would emit a huge new source of greenhouse gases, exacerbating climate change. Temperature increases in the ocean are on pace to reach that tipping point by the end of the century. For example, a big carbon reservoir beneath the western Pacific near Taiwan is already within a few degrees Celsius of destabilizing. Similar discoveries of carbon gas reservoirs have been made off the coast of Okinawa, in the Aegean Sea, in the Gulf of California and off the west coast of Canada.

At issue are expanses of carbon dioxide and methane accumulating underwater and scattered across the seafloor. They form as volcanic activity releases heat and gases that can congeal into liquid and solid hydrates ... These undersea carbon reservoirs largely stay put unless perturbed, but the new study shows the natural reservoirs are vulnerable in a warming ocean and provides proof the Earth's climate has been affected by rapid release of geologic carbon.

Quote
... The federal government's Climate Science Special Report projected a global increase in average sea surface temperatures of up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, given current emissions rates. Temperature gains of that magnitude throughout the ocean could eventually destabilize the geologic hydrate reservoirs.

"The last time it happened, climate change was so great it caused the end of the ice age. Once that geologic process begins, we can't turn it off,"
Stott said.



Open Access: Lowell Douglas Stott et al. Hydrothermal carbon release to the ocean and atmosphere from the Eastern Equatorial Pacific during the Last Glacial Termination, Environmental Research Letters (2019).
http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aafe28

From Abstract:

Quote
... a significant release of hydrothermal fluids entered the ocean at the last glacial termination. The large 14C anomaly was accompanied by a ~4-fold increase in Zn/Ca in both benthic and planktic foraminfera that reflects an increase in dissolved [Zn] throughout the water column. Foraminiferal B/Ca and Li/Ca results from these sites document deglacial declines in [CO32-] throughout the water column; these were accompanied by carbonate dissolution at water depths that today lie well above the calcite lysocline. Taken together, these results are strong evidence for an increased flux of hydrothermally-derived CO2 through the EEP upwelling system at the last glacial termination that would have exchanged with the atmosphere and affected both Δ14C and pCO2.

24
Consequences / Re: Decline in insect populations
« on: February 12, 2019, 09:39:23 PM »
Politicians are Complicit in the Killing of Our Insects – We Will Be Next
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/12/politicians-killing-insects-ecosystems



... Some of the members of the European parliament’s agriculture committee are themselves farmers who have grown increasingly dependent on powerful and toxic pesticides. But others have taken the agribusiness shilling and believe that their role in policymaking is simply to support the corporations that sell these poisons.

... the agrichemical industry is literally writing pesticide assessments that are then presented as the work of regulators.

For example, a recent report exposed how EU regulators based a decision to relicense controversial glyphosate on an assessment plagiarised from industry reports.

Around 50% of some chapters were actually a copy-and-paste job from papers Monsanto and other agrichemical corporates had written.

The European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), based its recommendation that glyphosate was safe for public use on this industry assessment. 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/15/eu-glyphosate-approval-was-based-on-plagiarised-monsanto-text-report-finds

... Tearing apart the web of life damages us all. Only a farming system that views itself as part of this web has a long-term future.

25
Consequences / Re: Health Effects of Climate Change
« on: February 12, 2019, 06:48:31 PM »
Quote
... Built Shade will be a growth industry for all of our cities. ... 

Once upon a time - before the Great Heat - they would be called trees and forests.

26
Policy and solutions / Re: UN Climate Agreement - Paris 2015 and beyond
« on: February 12, 2019, 02:17:03 PM »
Interesting read

The report link points to a 404 - they seem to have changed the reports address. Updated address ...

Updated link: https://www.ippr.org/files/2019-02/risk-and-environment-february19.pdf

28
Consequences / Re: Abrupt Warming Event
« on: February 11, 2019, 10:03:04 PM »
Arctic Sea Ice Loss in Past Linked to Abrupt Climate Events   
https://m.phys.org/news/2019-02-arctic-sea-ice-loss-linked.html

A new study on ice cores shows that reductions in sea ice in the Arctic in the period between 30-100,000 years ago led to major climate events. During this period, Greenland temperatures rose by as much as 16 degrees Celsius. The results are published today (Monday 11 February) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Louise C. Sime el al., "Impact of abrupt sea ice loss on Greenland water isotopes during the last glacial period," PNAS (2019).

29
The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: February 11, 2019, 08:08:00 PM »
NASA Finds Possible Second Impact Crater Under Greenland Ice
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-02/nsfc-nfp021119.php

A NASA glaciologist has discovered a possible second impact crater buried under more than a mile of ice in northwest Greenland.

His follows the finding, announced in November 2018, of a 19-mile-wide crater beneath Hiawatha Glacier - the first meteorite impact crater ever discovered under Earth's ice sheets. Though the newly found impact sites in northwest Greenland are only 114 miles apart, at present they do not appear to have formed at the same time.

If the second crater, which has a width of over 22 miles, is ultimately confirmed as the result of a meteorite impact, it will be the 22nd largest impact crater found on Earth.



... Following the finding of that first crater, MacGregor checked topographic maps of the rock beneath Greenland's ice for signs of other craters. Using imagery of the ice surface from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instruments aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, he soon noticed a circular pattern some 114 miles to the southeast of Hiawatha Glacier. The same circular pattern also showed up in ArcticDEM, a high-resolution digital elevation model of the entire Arctic derived from commercial satellite imagery.

To confirm his suspicion about the possible presence of a second impact crater, MacGregor studied the raw radar images that are used to map the topography of the bedrock beneath the ice, including those collected by NASA's Operation IceBridge. What he saw under the ice were several distinctive features of a complex impact crater: a flat, bowl-shaped depression in the bedrock that was surrounded by an elevated rim and centrally located peaks, which form when the crater floor equilibrates post-impact. Though the structure isn't as clearly circular as the Hiawatha crater, MacGregor estimated the second crater's diameter at 22.7 miles. Measurements from Operation IceBridge also revealed a negative gravity anomaly over the area, which is characteristic of impact craters.

"The only other circular structure that might approach this size would be a collapsed volcanic caldera," MacGregor said. "But the areas of known volcanic activity in Greenland are several hundred miles away. Also, a volcano should have a clear positive magnetic anomaly, and we don't see that at all."

Although the newly found impact craters in northwest Greenland are only 114 miles apart, they do not appear to have been formed at the same time. From the same radar data and ice cores that had been collected nearby, MacGregor and his colleagues determined that the ice in the area was at least 79,000 years old. The layers of ice were smooth, suggesting the ice hadn't been strongly disturbed during that time. This meant that either the impact happened more than 79,000 years ago or -- if it took place more recently -- any impact-disturbed ice had long ago flowed out of the area and been replaced by ice from farther inland.

Open Access: Joseph A. MacGregor et al. A Possible Second Large Subglacial Impact Crater in Northwest Greenland, Geophysical Research Letters (2019).



30
Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: What's new in Greenland?
« on: February 11, 2019, 08:06:25 PM »
NASA Finds Possible Second Impact Crater Under Greenland Ice
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-02/nsfc-nfp021119.php

A NASA glaciologist has discovered a possible second impact crater buried under more than a mile of ice in northwest Greenland.

His follows the finding, announced in November 2018, of a 19-mile-wide crater beneath Hiawatha Glacier - the first meteorite impact crater ever discovered under Earth's ice sheets. Though the newly found impact sites in northwest Greenland are only 114 miles apart, at present they do not appear to have formed at the same time.

If the second crater, which has a width of over 22 miles, is ultimately confirmed as the result of a meteorite impact, it will be the 22nd largest impact crater found on Earth.



... Following the finding of that first crater, MacGregor checked topographic maps of the rock beneath Greenland's ice for signs of other craters. Using imagery of the ice surface from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instruments aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, he soon noticed a circular pattern some 114 miles to the southeast of Hiawatha Glacier. The same circular pattern also showed up in ArcticDEM, a high-resolution digital elevation model of the entire Arctic derived from commercial satellite imagery.

To confirm his suspicion about the possible presence of a second impact crater, MacGregor studied the raw radar images that are used to map the topography of the bedrock beneath the ice, including those collected by NASA's Operation IceBridge. What he saw under the ice were several distinctive features of a complex impact crater: a flat, bowl-shaped depression in the bedrock that was surrounded by an elevated rim and centrally located peaks, which form when the crater floor equilibrates post-impact. Though the structure isn't as clearly circular as the Hiawatha crater, MacGregor estimated the second crater's diameter at 22.7 miles. Measurements from Operation IceBridge also revealed a negative gravity anomaly over the area, which is characteristic of impact craters.

"The only other circular structure that might approach this size would be a collapsed volcanic caldera," MacGregor said. "But the areas of known volcanic activity in Greenland are several hundred miles away. Also, a volcano should have a clear positive magnetic anomaly, and we don't see that at all."

Although the newly found impact craters in northwest Greenland are only 114 miles apart, they do not appear to have been formed at the same time. From the same radar data and ice cores that had been collected nearby, MacGregor and his colleagues determined that the ice in the area was at least 79,000 years old. The layers of ice were smooth, suggesting the ice hadn't been strongly disturbed during that time. This meant that either the impact happened more than 79,000 years ago or -- if it took place more recently -- any impact-disturbed ice had long ago flowed out of the area and been replaced by ice from farther inland.

Open Access: Joseph A. MacGregor et al. A Possible Second Large Subglacial Impact Crater in Northwest Greenland, Geophysical Research Letters (2019).



31
Consequences / Re: Hurricane season 2018
« on: February 11, 2019, 07:55:42 PM »
New Crops Proposed — Hemp and Hops — After Hurricane Michael Devastation
https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2019/02/11/new-crops-proposed-hemp-and-hops-after-hurricane-michael-devastation/2817024002/

TALLAHASSEE — Hemp and hops are being promoted among alternatives for crops wiped out by Hurricane Michael in the eastern Panhandle.

Glen Aiken, director of the University of Florida’s North Florida Research and Education Center, said Monday the need for alternatives has grown as farmers in an eight-county region suffered most of the estimated $1.5 billion hit to the state’s agriculture industry in the October storm. ...

Quote
... “I know of an entrepreneur in Kentucky that processes hemp sausage,” Aiken said. “It’s hemp and pork combined. I had some. It’s not the best sausage I’ve ever ate, but it wasn’t too bad either.”

... Hurricane Michael's damage to the agriculture industry came a year after Hurricane Irma ravaged citrus growers in many areas of the state. But Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, told the Senate committee Monday that 'the worst is over' for citrus growers.

Quote
“We do believe the bottom is behind us,” Shepp told the committee. “I like to say this is going to be an upward trajectory. There is a lot of replanting going on and a lot of good success stories coming out of the labs.”

Hate to burst your bubble there, but ...



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

Hurricanes Strengthening Faster in the Atlantic; Climate Change is a Big Reason Why
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2019/02/07/hurricanes-are-strengthening-faster-atlantic-climate-change-is-big-reason-why-scientists-say/

A group of top hurricane experts, including several federal researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, published striking new research Thursday suggesting that hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean have grown considerably worse, and climate change is part of the reason why.

The study focused on rapid intensification, in which hurricanes may grow from a weak tropical storm or Category 1 status to Category 4 or 5 in a brief period. They found that the trend has been seen repeatedly in the Atlantic in recent years. It happened before Hurricane Harvey struck Texas and before Hurricane Michael pummeled the Gulf Coast with little warning last fall. Hurricane Michael, for example, transformed from a Category 1 into a raging Category 4 in the span of 24 hours.

The study, published in Nature Communications, describes its conclusion in blunt language, finding that the Atlantic already has seen “highly unusual” changes in rapid hurricane intensification, compared to what models would predict from natural swings in the climate. That led researchers to conclude that climate change played a significant role.

Open Access: Recent increases in tropical cyclone intensification rates
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08471-z


32
Consequences / Re: Decline in insect populations
« on: February 11, 2019, 05:03:54 PM »
Add scorpions to the list kassy ...

Quote
Brazil's cities provide an excellent habitat for scorpions, experts say. They offer shelter in sewage networks, plenty of water and food in the garbage that goes uncollected, and no natural predators.

... Scorpions, like the cockroaches they feast on, are an incredibly adaptable species. As the weather in Brazil gets hotter due to climate change, scorpions are spreading across the country – including into its colder southern states that rarely, if ever, had reports of scorpions prior to this millennium.

The number of people stung by scorpions across Brazil has risen from 12,000 in 2000 to 140,000 last year, according to the health ministry.

... the species terrorizing Brazilians is the highly poisonous yellow scorpion, or tityus serrulatus. It reproduces through the miracle of parthenogenesis, meaning a female scorpion simply generates copies of herself twice a year – no male participation required.

Each parthenogenesis can spawn up to 20 to 30 baby scorpions.

Brazil's urban scorpion infestation is the result of poor garbage management, inadequate sanitation, rapid urbanization and a changing climate.

It is likely too late to stop the spread of scorpions across Brazilian cities.

https://m.phys.org/news/2019-02-venomous-yellow-scorpions-brazil-big.html

Always look on the bright side of life - Monty Python - Life of Brian ...
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://m.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DWoaktW-Lu38&ved=2ahUKEwjBg_fmh7TgAhVGmeAKHfpIAMgQ3ywwAnoECAsQHw&usg=AOvVaw1uslggdIchENVlmwYDh-Ay

Quote
... Life's a piece of shit,
When you look at it.
Life's a laugh and death's a joke it's true.
You'll see it's all a show.
Keep 'em laughing as you go.
Just remember nature's last laugh is on you.
And...
Always look on the bright side of life.
Always look on the right side of life.
[whistle] ...

33
Walking the walk / Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« on: February 11, 2019, 04:38:02 PM »
Regenerative Agriculture Can Make Farmers Stewards of the Land Again
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-regenerative-agriculture-farmers-stewards.html



34
Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: February 11, 2019, 04:35:07 PM »
Regenerative Agriculture Can Make Farmers Stewards of the Land Again
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-regenerative-agriculture-farmers-stewards.html



35
Consequences / Re: Decline in insect populations
« on: February 10, 2019, 11:57:54 PM »
Quote
... And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

36
Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: February 10, 2019, 08:40:07 PM »
Plummeting Insect Numbers 'Threaten Collapse of Nature
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature

The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.

More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.

Insect population collapses have recently been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, but the review strongly indicates the crisis is global. The researchers set out their conclusions in unusually forceful terms for a peer-reviewed scientific paper: “The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.

Quote
“Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” they write. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.”



The analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, says intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, particularly the heavy use of pesticides. Urbanisation and climate change are also significant factors.

“If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind,” said Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, who wrote the review with Kris Wyckhuys at the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing.

The 2.5% rate of annual loss over the last 25-30 years is “shocking”, Sánchez-Bayo told the Guardian: “It is very rapid. In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.”

One of the biggest impacts of insect loss is on the many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects. “If this food source is taken away, all these animals starve to death,” he said. Such cascading effects have already been seen in Puerto Rico, where a recent study revealed a 98% fall in ground insects over 35 years.

Quote
... “When you consider 80% of biomass of insects has disappeared in 25-30 years, it is a big concern.”

The new analysis selected the 73 best studies done to date to assess the insect decline.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320718313636
Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers 

37
Consequences / Re: Decline in insect populations
« on: February 10, 2019, 08:28:23 PM »
Plummeting Insect Numbers 'Threaten Collapse of Nature
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature

The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.

More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.

Insect population collapses have recently been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, but the review strongly indicates the crisis is global. The researchers set out their conclusions in unusually forceful terms for a peer-reviewed scientific paper: “The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.

Quote
“Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” they write. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.”



The analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, says intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, particularly the heavy use of pesticides. Urbanisation and climate change are also significant factors.

“If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind,” said Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, who wrote the review with Kris Wyckhuys at the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing.

The 2.5% rate of annual loss over the last 25-30 years is “shocking”, Sánchez-Bayo told the Guardian: “It is very rapid. In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.”

One of the biggest impacts of insect loss is on the many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects. “If this food source is taken away, all these animals starve to death,” he said. Such cascading effects have already been seen in Puerto Rico, where a recent study revealed a 98% fall in ground insects over 35 years.

Quote
... “When you consider 80% of biomass of insects has disappeared in 25-30 years, it is a big concern.”

The new analysis selected the 73 best studies done to date to assess the insect decline.



https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320718313636
Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers 

38
Consequences / Re: Weird Weather and anecdotal stories about climate change
« on: February 10, 2019, 07:24:30 AM »
Extreme Rainfall has Led to Deadly Floods in Northern Chile
https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-47183451/extreme-rainfall-has-led-to-deadly-floods-in-northern-chile

Heavy rains have wreaked havoc in northern Chile causing rivers to overflow and forcing residents from their flooded homes.

Extreme rainfall in the Andes claimed several lives and destroyed homes and roads.

In the Atacama Desert, normally one of the driest places on Earth, a 60m (196ft) waterfall that had run dry for 10 years has been reactivated.

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

The Southern Hemisphere is Scorching: Unprecedented Heat in Chile, Argentina and Australia   
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/weather/2019/02/07/southern-hemisphere-is-scorching-all-time-record-heat-set-chile-argentina-australia/



... Porvenir, Chile’s, record high of 90.5 degrees on Monday is perhaps the most remarkable, given its southern latitude and proximity to the cooling waters of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

The city of barely 5,000 people sits at 53.3 degrees south. For perspective, that’s the same distance from the equator as Manchester, England. But while Manchester is landlocked and influenced by the Gulf Stream, Porvenir sits near the water on the Strait of Magellan — where water temperatures rarely exceed the upper 40s Fahrenheit. It’s just 700 miles from Antarctica.

... As for Chile, the unusual warmth in the “Gateway to the Antarctic” mirrors a similar event in Scandinavia last July, when Norway, Finland and Sweden all topped 90 degrees. Exceptional warmth even approached the Arctic Circle.

39
Consequences / Re: Effects on Arctic Wildlife
« on: February 09, 2019, 05:34:33 PM »
Russia Islands Emergency Over Polar Bear 'Invasion'
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-47185112

A remote Russian region has declared a state of emergency over the appearance of dozens of polar bears in its human settlements, local officials say.

Authorities in the Novaya Zemlya islands, home to a few thousand people, said there were cases of bears attacking people and entering residential and public buildings.

The archipelago's main settlement, Belushya Guba, has reported a total of 52 bears in its vicinity, with between six and 10 constantly on its territory.

Local administration head Vigansha Musin said more than five bears were on the territory of the local military garrison, where air and air defence forces are based.

The bears had lost their fear of police patrols and signals used to warn them off.

With Arctic sea ice diminishing as a result of climate change, polar bears are forced to change their hunting habits and spend more time on land looking for food - which potentially puts them in conflict with humans.


In 2016 five Russian scientists were besieged by polar bears for several weeks at a remote weather station on the island of Troynoy, east of Novaya Zemlya. ...






40
Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: February 09, 2019, 05:01:44 PM »
Report to Congress on Changes in the Arctic
https://news.usni.org/2019/02/08/report-congress-changes-arctic-4

The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region.

Record low extents of Arctic sea ice over the past decade have focused scientific and policy attention on links to global climate change and projected ice-free seasons in the Arctic within decades. These changes have potential consequences for weather in the United States, access to mineral and biological resources in the Arctic, the economies and cultures of peoples in the region, and national security.

Changes to the Arctic brought about by warming temperatures will likely allow more exploration for oil, gas, and minerals. Warming that causes permafrost to melt could pose challenges to onshore exploration activities. Increased oil and gas exploration and tourism (cruise ships) in the Arctic increase the risk of pollution in the region. Cleaning up oil spills in ice-covered waters will be more difficult than in other areas, primarily because effective strategies for cleaning up oil spills in ice-covered waters have yet to be developed. ...

Although there is significant international cooperation on Arctic issues, the Arctic is increasingly being viewed by some observers as a potential emerging security issue. Some of the Arctic coastal states, particularly Russia, have announced an intention or taken actions to enhance their military presences in the high north. U.S. military forces, particularly the Navy and Coast Guard, have begun to pay more attention to the region in their planning and operations.

_________________________

Russian Tor-family air defense system trains to defend the Arctic
https://defence-blog.com/army/russian-tor-family-air-defense-system-trains-to-defend-the-arctic.html

The Tor-M2DT anti-aircraft missile system crews have started practicing in order to prepare for potential battles in the Arctic,according to a Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation.

Russia is setting up a special unit armed with an advanced version of Tor-family autonomous short-range anti-aircraft missile system, called the Tor-M2DT, ready to fight in the Arctic as tensions over the region’s allegedly vast oil and gas wealth reserves grow.

41
Consequences / Re: Weird Weather and anecdotal stories about climate change
« on: February 09, 2019, 04:43:45 PM »
Seattle Almost Reached Its Yearly Amount of Snowfall In a Day
https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/09/us/seattle-snow-weather-saturday-wxc/index.html

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport had 6.4 inches of snow Friday, according to the National Weather Service. It's the second most snow recorded in the area in a day for the past 20 years, and more is still to come.

https://twitter.com/NWSSeattle/status/1094144414249832451

By 4 a.m. PT Saturday, the airport had 7.2 inches of snow, and it was still falling.
It's only the fourth time the area has seen 6 inches of snow since 1991. Seattle averages 6.8 inches of snow over the course of an entire year.


https://twitter.com/MikeTheSnowbean/status/1093916272985657344



Seattle has 39 plows, WSDOT has about 100 for a five-county region and King County has 28, although all the agencies are also using road graders, front loaders and other trucks and machinery to chip in.

“Many folks ask why there aren’t more snow plows in our region,” King County Executive Dow Constantine tweeted. “The answer is: Because we don’t get much snow!”

... The first thing to remember is that unless you live on a major thoroughfare, your street is not going to be plowed. That means, essentially, that if a bus route does not run on your street, it’s not getting plowed.

42
Glaciers / Re: New Zealand's Southern Alps, & Other SH & Tropical, Glaciers
« on: February 09, 2019, 12:27:41 AM »
Tasman Glacier: Huge Ice Chunks Break Off New Zealand Glacier 
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-47171009



Huge chunks of ice have broken off the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand's largest.

They have filled up at least a quarter of the meltwater lake at the foot of the glacier in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, reports say.

The lake started to form in the 1970s as the glacier rapidly retreated - a phenomenon thought to have been largely caused by global warming.

One guide says the chunks resemble huge skyscrapers lying on their side in the water.

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

The falling ice chunks led to some "chaos" on the water, Anthony Harris, a guide at Southern Alps Guiding, told the stuff New Zealand website.

A tidal surge up to two metres (6.5ft) high damaged a lake jetty and lifted a boat trailer upside down onto another trailer, Mr Harris said.

"All in all, this is the most significant event I've seen in the last five years on the Tasman."



https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/110448731/large-chunks-of-ice-break-from-tasman-glacier-on-west-coast-of-south-island

43
The rest / Re: Archaeology/Paleontology news
« on: February 08, 2019, 11:05:23 PM »
Danish Workers Unearth 'Still-Sharp' Medieval Sword While Digging Out Sewer
https://gizmodo.com/danish-workers-unearth-still-sharp-medieval-sword-while-1832465793


44
Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: February 08, 2019, 07:04:57 PM »
'Hundreds of Thousands' of Cattle Feared Dead After Australia Floods
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-hundreds-thousands-cattle-dead-australia.html

Hundreds of thousands of cattle weakened from a severe drought are feared to have died in record-breaking floods in northeastern Australia, authorities said Friday, as they stepped up efforts to feed surviving livestock.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk Friday spoke of seeing a "sea of dead cattle" when she toured one region on Thursday.

"To see the cattle spread across these yards, not moving, it made you feel sick in the stomach," she told national broadcaster ABC.

"This will be heartbreaking to these communities that have been experiencing years of drought, only to see that turn into a torrential inundation which threatens now their very livelihoods in the complete other direction."

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

45
Consequences / Re: Weird Weather and anecdotal stories about climate change
« on: February 08, 2019, 06:55:46 PM »
'Hundreds of Thousands' of Cattle Feared Dead After Australia Floods
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-hundreds-thousands-cattle-dead-australia.html

Hundreds of thousands of cattle weakened from a severe drought are feared to have died in record-breaking floods in northeastern Australia, authorities said Friday, as they stepped up efforts to feed surviving livestock.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk Friday spoke of seeing a "sea of dead cattle" when she toured one region on Thursday.

"To see the cattle spread across these yards, not moving, it made you feel sick in the stomach," she told national broadcaster ABC.

"This will be heartbreaking to these communities that have been experiencing years of drought, only to see that turn into a torrential inundation which threatens now their very livelihoods in the complete other direction."

46
Science / Re: Trump Administration Assaults on Science and the Environment
« on: February 08, 2019, 06:35:20 PM »
Lawmakers Tell Pentagon: Revise and Resubmit Your Climate-Change Report
https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2019/02/lawmakers-tell-pentagon-revise-and-resubmit-your-climate-change-report/154657/

The Pentagon’s latest climate-change report was so bad that it didn’t even meet legal requirements, say House lawmakers who on Wednesday ordered the military to redo the document by April 1.

The report “lacks key deliverables,” according to the Jan. 25 letter from House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif. released last week.

The Pentagon’s 2019 climate report opens with the line: “The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operational plans, and installations.”

But the report goes downhill from there, said David Titley, the Navy meteorologist-turned-Penn State professor.

The report, “Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense,” released four weeks late on Jan. 16, was required by the Langevin Amendment, part of the 2018 Defense Authorization Act.

Spearheaded by Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., the bill ordered the Pentagon to list the top 10 military installations most vulnerable to climate change, mitigations needed to maintain resiliency, and the potential effects on DOD missions.


47
Consequences / Re: Hurricane season 2018
« on: February 08, 2019, 06:22:44 PM »
Landslides Triggered by Hurricane Maria
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-landslides-triggered-hurricane-maria.html

Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico on 20 September 2017 and triggered more than 40,000 landslides in at least three-fourths of Puerto Rico's 78 municipalities. In a new article from GSA Today, authors Erin Bessette-Kirton and colleagues write that "the number of landslides that occurred during this event was two orders of magnitude (100 fold) greater than those reported from previous hurricanes."

The authors, from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Puerto Rico, evaluate the extent and characteristics of Maria-induced landslides throughout Puerto Rico. They present an assessment of island-wide landslide density, which they compare, in conjunction with rainfall data, to tropical cyclone systems that have affected Puerto Rico since 1960. Additionally, they discuss the conditions specific to landsliding in Puerto Rico and examine the impact of environmental variables (e.g., rainfall, soil moisture, and geology) on observed variations in island-wide landsliding.

In their analysis, they show that the average rainfall from Hurricane Maria in mountainous areas was greater than that of any other hurricane or tropical storm in Puerto Rico since 1960.



Open Access: Erin Bessette-Kirton et al. Landslides Triggered by Hurricane Maria: Assessment of an Extreme Event in Puerto Rico, GSA Today (2019)
................

Didn't the Permian-Triassic extinction event have something similar to this? Different cause, but similar erosion.

Catastrophic soil erosion during the end-Permian biotic crisis
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051202085309.htm

Quote
Organic geochemical analyses of sedimentary organic matter from a marine Permian-Triassic transition sequence in northeastern Italy reveal a significant influx of land-derived diagenetic products of polysaccharides. This unique event reflects massive soil erosion resulting from destruction of land vegetation due to volcanogenic disturbance of atmospheric chemistry. The excessive supply of soil materials to the oceans provides a direct link between terrestrial and marine ecological crises, suggesting that ecosystem collapse on land could have contributed to the end-Permian marine extinctions.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101028113614.htm

Quote
... When erosion seven times the normal rate sent large flows of nutrients into the ocean, it created conditions much like the over-fertilization we see today near the outlets of large rivers. As it does today, this condition led to a microbial feeding frenzy and the removal of oxygen -- and life -- from the late Permian ocean.

"If there is a lesson to all this," Algeo said, "it is a reminder that things can get out of whack pretty quickly and pretty seriously. We are used to a stable world, but it may not always be so stable."

Effects of soil erosion and anoxic–euxinic ocean in the Permian–Triassic marine crisis
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4983274/

48
The rest / Re: Economic Inequality
« on: February 08, 2019, 05:57:41 PM »
The ephemeral nature of digital currency ...

Where's my paycheck? Wells Fargo customers say direct deposits not showing up after outage
https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/02/08/wells-fargo-outage-customers-report-issues-paychecks-deposits/2810562002/

Quote
Social media users said Friday they were having trouble seeing paychecks and direct deposits in their Wells Fargo online and mobile banking accounts a day after the bank suffered a major outage.

Widespread technical difficulties hit Wells Fargo's online banking and mobile app Thursday following a power shutdown caused after smoke was detected at a data center in Shoreview, Minn. The outage was "not due to any cybersecurity event," the bank said.

By late Thursday, Wells Fargo said in a statement that ATM services had been restored and mobile and online banking were "operational" with the exception of some features, like consumer credit card and mortgage balances.

However, some customers reported direct deposit paychecks were not appearing in their accounts early Friday.

Quote
"Alright @WellsFargo once your 'contained issue' is resolved I will be moving every account I have at Wells Fargo elsewhere. A mason jar in the backyard seems like a much better option at this time. #DontFWithMyMoney," Twitter user @ILoveMyRicky10 wrote.
https://twitter.com/ILoveMyRicky10/status/1093824611463192576

No electricity; No money.

49
The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: February 08, 2019, 05:30:06 PM »
Fireball Over Cuba Exploded With the Energy of 1,400 Tons of TNT, NASA Says
https://gizmodo.com/fireball-over-cuba-exploded-with-the-force-of-1-400-ton-1832346993

Quote
... According to new data posted by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies and flagged by CNET, the object’s collision with the atmosphere released the energy of around 1.4 kilotons (1,400 tons) of TNT.

the detonation over Cuba was one of the more notable fireballs since the meteor that hit Chelyabinsk, Russia near the nation’s border with Kazakhstan in 2013. Scientists say that explosion detonated with the force of over 470 kilotons of TNT, or nearly as strong as the MK-18 “Ivy King” in 1952, the largest pure-fission bomb ever tested by the U.S. at 500 kilotons. According to a Tulane University fact sheet, the Chelyabinsk object was probably around 56-65 feet (17-20 meters) in diameter.

The object that exploded over Cuba was likely much smaller, probably around the size of a van. Only minor property damage such as shattered windows—probably from the sonic boom generated by the object surpassing the speed of sound—was reported to have resulted, with no injuries.


Ivy King - 1952

50
Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: February 07, 2019, 12:09:18 AM »
Humans Are Eating Most of Earth's Largest Animals to Extinction   
https://amp.livescience.com/64697-humans-meat-eating-megafauna-extinction.html

Quote
...  In new research published today (Feb. 6) in the journal Conservation Letters, scientists surveyed the populations of nearly 300 species of megafauna around the world, and saw some troubling trends emerge. According to the authors, at least 200 species (70 percent) of the world's largest animals are seeing their populations dwindle, and more than 150 face the risk of outright extinction.

The primary threat in most of these cases appears to be human meat consumption.



"Direct harvest for human consumption of meat or body parts is the biggest danger to nearly all of the large species with threat data available," lead study author William Ripple, a professor of ecology at the Oregon State University College of Forestry, said in a statement. "Our results suggest we're in the process of eating megafauna to extinction."

Open access: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/conl.12627   

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