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Koch brothers get an even better climate denying stooge as U.S. Secretary of State

Rex Tillerson is out, and the Koch brothers are in.   https://grist.org/briefly/rex-tillerson-is-out-and-the-koch-brothers-are-in/

In an early morning tweet, President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and announced that Mike Pompeo, CIA director and unofficial third Koch brother, would be taking over. In other words, a guy who believes climate change is merely an “engineering problem” is being replaced by someone who probably doesn’t think it’s even real.

Pompeo’s environmental record is pretty damning:

  • In a 2013 interview with C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, he argued that there’s considerable debate within the scientific community about the causes of global warming. There isn’t.
  • Since 2009, he has accepted more than a million dollars from the oil and gas industry while campaigning for Congress.
  • He was the largest recipient of Koch Industries campaign money in 2010. And soon afterward, as a newly elected Kansas representative, he hired a former Koch lawyer to be his chief of staff.

It looks like the Koch brothers, who’ve played a huge part in galvanizing the Republican Party against climate change, have Pompeo exactly where they want him.

And why is it important for our secretary of state to understand the basics of climate change?  For one, climate change poses a “growing geopolitical threat” to national security — a threat that Pompeo appears quite unequipped to tackle.

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March 14, 2018 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Climate change urgency: the Arctic is heating

Antarctic ice sheet loss and sea level rise Guardian[Excellent graphs]  1 March 2018 

dana1981 more https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/mar/01/decisions-today-will-decide-antarctic-ice-sheet-loss-and-sea-level-rise

A new study looks at how much global sea level will continue to rise even if we manage to meet the Paris climate target of staying below 2°C hotter than pre-industrial temperatures. The issue is that sea levels keep rising for several hundred years after we stabilize temperatures, largely due to the continued melting of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland from the heat already in the climate system.

The study considered two scenarios. In the first, human carbon pollution peaks somewhere between 2020 and 2035 and falls quickly thereafter, reaching zero between 2035 and 2055 and staying there. Global temperatures in the first scenario peak at and remain steady below 2°C. In the second scenario, we capture and sequester carbon to reach net negative emissions (more captured than emitted) between 2040 and 2060, resulting in falling global temperatures in the second half of the century.

The authors found that global average sea level will most likely rise by about 1.3 meters by 2300 in the first scenario, and by 1 meter in the second. However, there is large uncertaintydue to how little we understand about the stability of the large ice sheets in Greenland and especially Antarctica. At the high end of possible ice sheet loss, we could see as much as 4.5 meters of sea level rise by 2300 in the first scenario, and close to 3 meters in the second scenario.

The study also shows that it’s critical that our carbon pollution peaks soon. Each 5-year delay – a peak in 2025 instead of 2020, for example – most likely adds 20 cm of sea level rise by 2300, and could potentially add a full meter due to the uncertainty associated with the large ice sheets:

we find that a delay of global peak emissions by 5 years in scenarios compatible with the Paris Agreement results in around 20 cm of additional median sea-level rise in 2300 … we estimate that each 5 years of delay bear the risk of an additional 1 m of sea-level rise by 2300 … Delayed near-term mitigation action in the next decades will leave a substantial legacy for long-term sea-level rise.

And remember, this is all for scenarios in which we meet the Paris climate targets, which we’re currently not on pace to achieve. If we miss the Paris targets, sea levels will rise higher yet.

Another new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that sea level rise has been accelerating. If the rate of acceleration continues – which the lead author notes is a conservative estimate – we would see an additional 65 cm (close to a meter above pre-industrial sea level) of sea level rise by 2100.

Yet another new study published in The Cryosphere using satellite data found that while the East Antarctic Ice Sheet has remained stable in recent years, ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has accelerated. Antarctica is now discharging 1.93 trillion tons of ice each year, up from about 1.89 trillion tons per year in 2008. When accounting for snow accumulation, the continent is losing about 183 billion tons of ice per year – enough to raise sea levels by about 3 to 5 millimeters per decade by itself. The melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet is likewise accelerating and is now responsible for about 25% of annual sea level rise (8.5 millimeters per decade).

Meanwhile, the Arctic has been remarkably warm in February – as much as 35°C hotter than average in some areas. In mid-winter, when sea ice should be growing, in the Bering Sea it’s instead shrinking.

The hot Arctic is important because the temperature difference between the Arctic and lower latitudes is one of the main forces that keeps the jet stream moving steadily west-to-east. With a hot Arctic, the jet stream is weakened, leading to weird weather in the USA and Europe. As a result, the western states have been experiencing relatively quite cold temperatures, while the US east coast has been unseasonably hot.

To sum up, ice sheet melt is accelerating, as in turn is sea level rise. Even if we manage to achieve the Paris target of less than 2°C global warming above pre-industrial temperatures, we’re likely to eventually see more than a meter of sea level rise, and potentially several meters. The longer we take to reach peak carbon pollution in the coming years, the higher the oceans will rise. Disappearing sea ice in the rapidly-warming Arctic also appears to be causing increasingly weird and extreme weather in places like America and Europe.

March 3, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, Reference | Leave a comment

The plight of the world’s big lakes, in the era of climate change

What a great article! and magnificent photos!. And Kenneth Weiss has a degree in folklore! Doesn’t that tell us something?

We are in an age where we are constantly being told that STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) are what matters most – indeed, are all that matters. Well- yes, they do matter. But what about the humanities – arts, social studies, history literature, cultures? We need more Kenneth Weiss’s – more students of folklore !

Combating Desertification and Drought, TerraViva United Nations Some of the World’s Biggest Lakes Are Drying Up. Here’s Why. [see this article if only for the superb photos]   

“……………..Around the globe, climate change is warming many lakes faster than it’s warming the oceans and the air. This heat accelerates evaporation, conspiring with human mismanagement to intensify water shortages, pollution, and loss of habitat for birds and fish. But while “the fingerprints of climate change are everywhere, they don’t look the same in every lake,” says Catherine O’Reilly, an aquatic ecologist at Illinois State University and co-leader of a worldwide lake survey by 64 scientists.

In eastern China’s Lake Tai, for example, farm runoff and sewage stimulate cyanobacterial blooms, and warm water encourages growth. The organisms threaten drinking-water supplies for two million people. East Africa’s Lake Tanganyika has warmed so much that fish catches that feed millions of poor people in four surrounding countries are at risk. The water behind Venezuela’s massive Guri hydroelectric dam has reached such critically low levels in recent years that the government has had to cancel classes for schoolchildren in an effort to ration electricity. Even the Panama Canal, with its locks recently widened and deepened to accommodate supersize cargo vessels, is troubled by El Niño–related rainfall shortages affecting man-made Gatun Lake, which supplies not only water to run the locks but also fresh drinking water for much of the country. Low water levels have also forced limits on the draft of ships so the ships don’t run aground in the lake.

Of all the challenges lakes face in a warming world, the starkest examples are in closed drainage basins where waters flow into lakes but don’t exit into rivers or a sea. These terminal, or endorheic, lakes tend to be shallow, salty, and hypersensitive to disturbance. The vanishing act of the Aral Sea in Central Asia is a disastrous example of what can happen to such inland waters. In its case the main culprits were ambitious Soviet irrigation projects that diverted its nourishing rivers.

Africa’s Lake Chad is a sliver of its former self. Iran’s Lake Urmia has shrunk by 80 percent in 30 years. What remain are the carcasses of ships settled into the silt.

Similar scenarios are playing out in terminal lakes on nearly every continent, a combination of overuse and worsening drought. Side-by-side satellite images reveal the shocking toll. Lake Chad in Africa has shrunk to a sliver of its former self since the 1960s, heightening shortages of fish and irrigation water. Displaced people and refugees who now depend on the lake put an additional strain on resources. Shortages as well as tensions in the hot, dry Sahel are driving conflict and mass migration. Utah’s Great Salt Lake and California’s Salton Sea and Mono Lake have undergone periods of recession too, diminishing critical breeding and nesting areas for birds as well as playgrounds for recreational boaters.

After the Caspian Sea, Iran’s Lake Urmia was once the largest saltwater lake in the Middle East. But it has shrunk by some 80 percent over the past 30 years. The flamingos that feasted on brine shrimp are mostly gone. So are the pelicans, egrets, and ducks. What remain are piers that lead nowhere, the rusting carcasses of ships settled into the silt, and white, barren salt flats. Winds that whip across the lake bed blow salt dust to farm fields, slowly rendering the soil infertile. Noxious, salt-tinged dust storms inflame the eyes, skin, and lungs of people 60 miles away in Tabriz, a city of more than 1.5 million. And in recent years Urmia’s alluring turquoise waters have been stained blood-red from bacteria and algae that flourish and change color when salinity increases and sunlight penetrates the shallows. Many of the tourists who once flocked here for therapeutic baths are staying away.

Although climate change has intensified droughts and elevated hot summer temperatures around Urmia, speeding up evaporation, that’s only part of the story. Urmia has thousands of illegal wells and a proliferation of dams and irrigation projects that divert water from tributary rivers to grow apples, wheat, and sunflowers. Experts worry that Urmia could fall victim to the same overexploitation of water as the Aral Sea. ……..

We live in an era of the most forced migration since the Second World War. We are going to need to support those who are ravaged by climate change so they can migrate with dignity.

William Lacy Swing director general of the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration

In sheer numbers those fleeing “natural” calamities have outnumbered those fleeing war and conflict for decades. Still, these figures do not include people forced to abandon their homelands because of drought or gradual environmental degradation; almost two and a half billion people live in areas where human demand for water exceeds the supply. Globally the likelihood of being uprooted from one’s home has increased 60 percent compared with 40 years ago because of the combination of rapid climate change and growing populations moving into more vulnerable areas.

Most of these displaced people stay within their home countries. If they cross a border, they do not qualify for UN protections as refugees because they cannot claim they are fleeing violence or persecution. “We live in an era of the most forced migration since the Second World War,” says William Lacy Swing, director general of the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration. “This time, though, in addition to war, climate is looming as a major driver. We are going to need to support those who are ravaged by climate change so they can migrate with dignity.”……..

When glaciers first begin to melt, they provide an extra flush of water, explains Dirk Hoffmann, a German researcher based in La Paz who co-authored the book Bolivia in a 4-Degree Warmer World. “But we’ve probably reached peak water in most glacial watersheds,” he says, meaning that meltwater from glaciers will now diminish in the region until it is gone. …….

Second World War. We are going to need to support those who are ravaged by climate change so they can migrate with dignity.

William Lacy Swing director general of the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration

In sheer numbers those fleeing “natural” calamities have outnumbered those fleeing war and conflict for decades. Still, these figures do not include people forced to abandon their homelands because of drought or gradual environmental degradation; almost two and a half billion people live in areas where human demand for water exceeds the supply. Globally the likelihood of being uprooted from one’s home has increased 60 percent compared with 40 years ago because of the combination of rapid climate change and growing populations moving into more vulnerable areas.

Most of these displaced people stay within their home countries. If they cross a border, they do not qualify for UN protections as refugees because they cannot claim they are fleeing violence or persecution. “We live in an era of the most forced migration since the Second World War,” says William Lacy Swing, director general of the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration. “This time, though, in addition to war, climate is looming as a major driver. We are going to need to support those who are ravaged by climate change so they can migrate with dignity.”……..

When glaciers first begin to melt, they provide an extra flush of water, explains Dirk Hoffmann, a German researcher based in La Paz who co-authored the book Bolivia in a 4-Degree Warmer World. “But we’ve probably reached peak water in most glacial watersheds,” he says, meaning that meltwater from glaciers will now diminish in the region until it is gone. ……..http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/worlds-biggest-lakes-drying-heres/

March 3, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, water | Leave a comment

Cancer epidemic: health and environmental toll of U.S. military operations on Terceira Island in the Azores

Anti-Nuclear Movement Founder Backs Cancer Crisis Clean-Up at US Base in Azores,  1 March 2018 , WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The cancer epidemic sweeping Terceira Island in the Azores, home to the US Air Base at Lajes, is a health crisis that requires an immediate environmental cleanup, Dr. Helen Caldicott, founder of a Nobel Peace Prize anti-nuclear movement told Sputnik.

March 3, 2018 Posted by | climate change, health, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Record warming in the Arctic

Arctic warming: scientists alarmed by ‘crazy’ temperature rises, Guardian,  Jonathan Watts, 28 Feb 18, Record warmth in the Arctic this month could yet prove to be a freak occurrence, but experts warn the warming event is unprecedented

An alarming heatwave in the sunless winter Arctic is causing blizzards in Europe and forcing scientists to reconsider even their most pessimistic forecasts of climate change.

Although it could yet prove to be a freak event, the primary concern is that global warming is eroding the polar vortex, the powerful winds that once insulated the frozen north.

The north pole gets no sunlight until March, but an influx of warm air has pushed temperatures in Siberia up by as much as 35C above historical averages this month. Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018 – more than three times as many hours as in any previous year.

Seasoned observers have described what is happening as “crazy,” “weird,” and “simply shocking”.

“This is an anomaly among anomalies. It is far enough outside the historical range that it is worrying – it is a suggestion that there are further surprises in store as we continue to poke the angry beast that is our climate,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “The Arctic has always been regarded as a bellwether because of the vicious circle that amplify human-caused warming in that particular region. And it is sending out a clear warning.”

Although most of the media headlines in recent days have focused on Europe’s unusually cold weather in a jolly tone, the concern is that this is not so much a reassuring return to winters as normal, but rather a displacement of what ought to be happening farther north.

At the world’s most northerly land weather station – Cape Morris Jesup at the northern tip of Greenland – recent temperatures have been, at times, warmer than London and Zurich, which are thousands of miles to the south. Although the recent peak of 6.1C on Sunday was not quite a record, but on the previous two occasions (2011 and 2017) the highs lasted just a few hours before returning closer to the historical average. Last week there were 10 days above freezing for at least part of the day at this weather station, just 440 miles from the north pole.

“Spikes in temperature are part of the normal weather patterns – what has been unusual about this event is that it has persisted for so long and that it has been so warm,” said Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute. “Going back to the late 1950s at least we have never seen such high temperatures in the high Arctic.”

The cause and significance of this sharp uptick are now under scrutiny. Temperatures often fluctuate in the Arctic due to the strength or weakness of the polar vortex, the circle of winds – including the jetstream – that help to deflect warmer air masses and keep the region cool. As this natural force field fluctuates, there have been many previous temperature spikes, which make historical charts of Arctic winter weather resemble an electrocardiogram.

But the heat peaks are becoming more frequent and lasting longer – never more so than this year. “In 50 years of Arctic reconstructions, the current warming event is both the most intense and one of the longest-lived warming events ever observed during winter,” said Robert Rohde, lead scientist of Berkeley Earth, a non-profit organisation dedicated to climate science.

The question now is whether this signals a weakening or collapse of the polar vortex, the circle of strong winds that keep the Arctic cold by deflecting other air masses. The vortex depends on the temperature difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, but that gap is shrinking because the pole is warming faster than anywhere on Earth. While average temperatures have increased by about 1C, the warming at the pole – closer to 3C – is melting the ice mass. According to Nasa, Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 13.2% per decade, leaving more open water and higher temperatures.

……… “This is too short-term an excursion to say whether or not it changes the overall projections for Arctic warming,” says Mann. “But it suggests that we may be underestimating the tendency for short-term extreme warming events in the Arctic. And those initial warming events can trigger even greater warming because of the ‘feedback loops’ associated with the melting of ice and the potential release of methane (a very strong greenhouse gas).”https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/27/arctic-warming-scientists-alarmed-by-crazy-temperature-rises

February 28, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Climate change’s great threat to global health

Impact of climate change on health is ‘the major threat of 21st century’ Skeptical Science  [good graphs], 26 February 2018  This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Daisy Dunne

The health of millions of people across the world is already being significantly harmed by climate change, a major new report finds.

From driving up the number of people exposed to heatwaves to increasing the risk of infectious diseases, such as dengue fever, climate change has had far-reaching effects on many aspects of human health in last few decades, the authors say.

In fact, the effect of climate change on human health is now so severe that it should be considered “the major threat of the 21st century”, scientists said at a press briefing held in London.

The report is the first from the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, a project involving 24 academic institutions and intergovernmental organisations from across the world. The project plans to release a report tracking progress on climate change and global health every year.

Feeling the heat

The report uses a set of 40 indicators to track the effects of climate change on global health. The first of these indicators assesses the “direct impacts” of climate change on human health, including the effects of exposure to extreme heat and natural disasters.

One of the report’s findings is that, from 2000 to 2016, the rise in the average temperatures that humans were exposed to was around three times higher than the rise of average global temperatures worldwide….

he average temperatures that humans are exposed to are significantly higher than the global surface average because most people live on land, where warming happens most quickly, explains Prof Peter Cox, an author of the new report and a climate scientist at the University of Exeter. He tells Carbon Brief:

“Generally speaking, when you look at where people are, the rate of change appears much larger than when we look at global averages. So maybe when we think about global targets, we should be always bearing in mind that the global mean temperature doesn’t really mean much to most people. We don’t live on the ocean, which is two-thirds of the global mean. We live on the land, and on the land that tends to warm fastest.”

The report also finds the number of “vulnerable” people exposed to “heatwave” events increased by around 125 million between 2000 and 2016. “Vulnerable” is here defined as being over the age of 65, while a “heatwave” is defined as three consecutive nights where temperatures are in the top 1% of the 1986-2006 average for the region.

In 2015, a record 175 million more people were exposed to heatwaves, when compared to the average for 1986-2008, the report finds

These spikes in exposure are a result of an increase in heatwave events, as well as other environmental and social factors, including population growth, Cox says.

Heatwave exposure has previously been linked to an increased risk of premature death in many parts of the world, he explains:

“During the 2003 European heatwave, there were 75,000 extra premature deaths in Europe, including 2,000 in the UK. That was mainly because of people not being able to recover, and I guess breathing gets harder when it’s hot too. There is a correlation between these periods of hot nights and mortality. I suspect there must be a correlation with ill health as well.”

Natural disasters

The report finds that the number of weather-related disasters from 2007 to 2016 increased by 46%, when compared with the average for 1990-1999.

Asia is the continent most affected by weather-related disasters, the report says – particularly because of its size and population. Between 1990 and 2016, 2,843 weather-related disasters were recorded in Asia, affecting 4.8 billion people and causing more than 500,000 deaths……..

Losses to the global workforce

Another set of indicators explored by the report look at the “human-mediated” impacts of climate change. These are impacts that are intrinsically linked to human society, but often exacerbated by climate change.

The first of these indicators explores how climate change has affected the productivity of the global workforce, particularly in the less economically-developed parts of the world. The report finds that the global productivity in rural labour capacity – defined as those who work in outdoor manual labour in rural areas, but excluding agricultural workers – has fallen by 5.3% from 2000 to 2016……….

Infectious diseases

The report also investigates the “environment-mediated” impacts of climate change. These are impacts on human health that are caused by environmental factors but can be worsened by climate change.

One such impact is the spread of infectious diseases around the globe. Rising temperatures can increase the spread of infectious diseases by allowing pests to conquer new parts of the world, as well as by creating ideal conditions for reproduction and virus replication.

Climate change has affected the prevalence of many infectious diseases, the report notes. However, as an example, the report focuses on how climate change has impacted the spread of dengue fever, a disease spread by mosquitoes native to much of southeast Asia, central and south America, and Africa………. https://www.skepticalscience.com/impact-cc-on-health-major-threat-21st-century.html

February 27, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

North Pole could be headed for disappearance within a relatively short time

There could be just two years left before the North Pole disappears, news.com.au, Charles Firth, DECEMBER 7, 2016

RIGHT now it’s an unprecedented 22 degrees hotter than normal in the Arctic, and in just two years the North Pole could be completely gone.

“…….Santa is a fantasy but climate change is not, and it’s started to do truly alarming things to the North Pole.

Over the past few weeks the temperature of the North Pole has been 22 degrees hotter than the average temperature for this time of year. That’s not a typo. It’s not 2.2 degrees hotter. It’s 22 degrees Celsius hotter.

The reason it’s such a huge difference is because even though night is now falling, the temperature around the poles is still getting hotter rather than colder. That’s never happened before. What it means is that the gap between average temperature and this year’s temperature is getting wider and wider by the day……..

In salt water, minus five degrees (which is the current air temperature in the North Pole) is too warm for ice to form. That means the planet’s natural airconditioner (and sun reflector) is not regrowing back this winter. Two of the ways the earth keeps itself cool have just broken down……..

The ice caps melt because it’s getting warmer and then because the ice caps have melted, the earth gets even warmer even faster.

Peter Wadhams, a professor of Ocean Physics at Cambridge University, now reckons that it could be as little as two years before ice disappears completely from the North Pole during the summer months………

In addition to the environmental implications, the cultural implications of this are also huge.

We will need to start changing the stories that we tell ourselves and our children about what our planet looks like. The idea that ice was once at the North Pole will become folklore, much like the fabled North-West passage through the Arctic, which as recently as a decade ago was considered treacherous and impassable, but has now become a common route for ships and tourist boats in the summer months.

This is why I’m seriously considering taking the kids out of school next July, and taking them up to the North Pole to see the ice. It’s probably the last chance to see it. Fantasies of the North Pole are such a vivid part of my own childhood. When was a kid, I always assumed I’d go there one day. Now I know my children will not.

If I do take my kids to see the North Pole and they live long lives, they’ll end be some of the last people on earth to be able to attest that there was indeed, ice at the top of our planet……..http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/there-could-be-just-two-years-left-before-the-north-pole-disappears/news-story/80111828cd33bdb2b24ca0540013a70e

February 27, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Preservation of intact forests is essential, in the battle to slow climate change

Study shows climate value of earth’s intact forests
Conservation efforts and the fight against climate change risk failure unless intact forests are preserved, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY EurekAlert, 26 Feb 18, NEW YORK 
 – New research published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution demonstrates the extraordinary value of Earth’s remaining intact forests for addressing climate change and protecting wildlife, critical watersheds, indigenous cultures, and human health. Yet the global policy and science communities do not differentiate among the relative values of different types of forest landscapes–which range from highly intact ones to those which are heavilylogged, fragmented, burnt, drained and/or over-hunted–due in part to the lack of a uniform way of measuring their quality.

With over 80 percent of forests already degraded by human and industrial activities, today’s findings underscore the immediate need for international policies to secure remaining intact forests–including establishing new protected areas, securing the land rights of indigenous peoples, regulating industry and hunting, and targeting restoration efforts and public finance. Absent specific strategies like these, current global targets addressing climate change, poverty, and biodiversity may fall short, including the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

“As vital carbon sinks and habitats for millions of people and imperilled wildlife, it is well known that forest protection is essential for any environmental solution–yet not all forests are equal,” said Professor James Watson of WCS and the University of Queensland. “Forest conservation must be prioritized based on their relative values–and Earth’s remaining intact forests are the crown jewels, ones that global climate and biodiversity policies must now emphasize.”

According to the study, the encroachment of human and industrial activity can have catastrophic effects. Once opened up, formerly intact forests become increasingly susceptible to natural pressures such as disease, fires, and erosion; they become less resilient to man-made climate change, and they become more accessible to human use, driving a spiral of decline.

Some key benefits of intact forests include:

  • Climate change: Intact forests currently absorb around 25 percent of carbon emissions from all human sources – damaging them will leave far more carbon dioxide in the air to warm the climate.
  • Water availability: Intact tropical forests ensure the stability of local and regional weather, generating more rain than cleared forests and thereby reducing the risk of drought.
  • Biodiversity: Intact forests have higher numbers of forest dependent species and have higher functional and genetic diversity.
  • Indigenous culture: Intact forests enable many indigenous groups to sustain their traditional cultures and livelihoods. In turn these peoples are often staunch defenders of their ancestral lands.
  • Human health: Forest degradation and loss compromise the supply of medically-beneficial species that millions of people rely on; additionally, forest degradation drives the spread of many infectious diseases by bringing humans and disease vectors into close contact………..https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-02/wcs-ssc022218.php

February 27, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Exceptional warmth in the Arctic

It will be warmer at the North Pole next week than much of Europe, as sea ice melts, Mashable, BY ANDREW FREEDMAN   26 Feb 18 In what seems to be becoming an annual occurrence, temperatures at the North Pole are about to reach or possibly exceed the freezing point this week as the North Atlantic and the North Pacific Oceans inject unusually mild air into the Arctic.

 Not coincidentally, Arctic sea ice is at record low levels, with a freak disappearance of ice off the western coast of Alaska, between Alaska and Russia. This vanishing of sea ice in the Bering Sea is exposing coastal communities in Alaska to storm surge flooding from typically fierce winter storms, particularly Little Diomede Island. ……..

In Europe, winds known as “The Beast from the East” will transport frigid temperatures from Russia and Scandinavia to the west, into Germany, France, and the UK, along with potential snowfall.

 In part, this is because of a split in the polar vortex — that much hyped circulation of air at upper levels of the atmosphere that keeps the coldest air penned in across the Far North. One “sister vortex” has set up across Canada and the Western U.S., with another established in Eurasia. Many of these areas are colder than the Arctic is right now.

Consider some of these startling statistics. Arctic sea ice is at its lowest observed level since the satellite era began in 1979. The magnitude and pace of the sea ice decline observed during the 21st century, along with the warming of the ocean surface throughout the region, has been shown to be unprecedented in the last 1,500 years.

 In the Bering Sea in particular, sea ice has been at record low levels for much of the fall and winter. As if spooked by a ghost, much of the ice that had been covering the region vanished during February, a time when it would normally be at its peak extent and thickness.

Temperatures in parts of the Arctic — including the North Pole — could rise to 45 degrees Fahrenheit above average this week. Already, the northernmost land-based weather station in Greenland, known as Cape Morris Jesup, rose above the freezing mark of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 degrees Celsius, five times since Feb. 16. That weather station is just about 400 miles from the North Pole.

 Previously, temperatures had only exceeded the freezing point at this weather station for brief periods during February in 2011 and 2017. So far this February, temperatures exceeded 32 degrees Fahrenheit on Feb. 16, 17, 18, 20 and 21, a warm streak that is incredibly rare.

At the same time as the Arctic heats up (relatively speaking), temperatures will plunge to about 35 degrees Fahrenheit below average across nearly all of Europe, from Moscow to London. ………

study published in Nature about a 2015 sudden polar warming event found that these events are growing more intense, meaning that the temperature extremes are getting more extreme, especially when compared to the overall rate of Arctic warming.

 Scientists studying the Arctic climate have sounded the loudest alarms about how quickly humans are altering the climate. This winter, coupled with some of the extreme warming events during the past few winter seasons, is driving that point home even further. https://mashable.com/2018/02/22/north-pole-temperatures-above-freezing-europe-deep-freeze/#zAsltrHx8Oq3

February 26, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Arctic temperatures soar 45 degrees above normal, flooded by extremely mild air on all sides

 

This latest temperature spike is another striking indicator of the Arctic’s rapidly changing climate….. (registered readers only)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2018/02/21/arctic-temperatures-soar-45-degrees-above-normal-flooded-by-extremely-mild-air-on-all-sides/?utm_term=.52bc34406fde

February 24, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Globalsea level rise inevitable, but more emissions will make this worse.

Independent 20th Feb 2018, Global sea level to rise by up to 1.2 metres despite Paris agreement, say
scientists. ‘Even if we stop emitting today, the effects of our past
emissions will be felt for centuries to come and every year that we delay
action has consequences for the future’ The research, compiled by climate
scientists from a number of international institutions, analysed the
long-term impacts of different emission levels and concluded oceans will
rise by over one metre even if the world sticks to the Paris agreement.
Overall, the researchers estimated a global rise of between 0.7 and 1.2
metres – adding that if emissions are not curbed as soon as possible it
will be even greater.
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/sea-level-rise-climate-change-paris-agreement-global-warming-greenhouse-gas-a8219681.html

February 22, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

France must redouble its efforts if it wants to achieve the goals it has set in terms of “green” energy.

Le Monde 7th Feb 2018 [Machine Translation] Can France catch up in renewables? A laggard compared
to many of its neighbors, the Hexagon must redouble efforts if it wants to
achieve the goals it has set in terms of “green” energies. “Let’s
accelerate the growth of renewable energies in the face of the climate
emergency. The theme chosen for the 19th annual conference of the Union of
Renewable Energy (SER), Thursday, February 8 in Paris, summarizes the
situation of an economic sector in the middle of the ford. A laggard
compared to many of its neighbors, France must redouble its efforts if it
wants to achieve the goals it has set in terms of “green” energy.
http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2018/02/08/la-france-peut-elle-rattraper-son-retard-dans-les-renouvelables_5253487_3244.html

February 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change, France, politics | Leave a comment

Good news: White House withdraws environmental nomination of fossil fuel shill Kathleen Hartnett White

Trump’s environmental good news, Religion News, By Mark Silk  | The good news out of Washington is that the White House has withdrawn the nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White to head the President’s Council of Environmental Quality. A leading shill for the carbon industry, the one-time chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality would have joined Energy Secretary Rick Perry and EPA Administrator Greg Pruitt in a troika of climate change deniers driving the Trump Administration’s environmental policies.

Hartnett White’s confirmation hearing in November did not go well, and although President Trump resubmitted her nomination last month, it can be presumed that he reversed course in the face of threats from at least a couple of Senate Republicans to vote her down……….

while the cause of climate change is hardly restricted to religious folks, it is perhaps the most religiously motivated of all progressive social causes today. Leading the way has been Pope Francis, with his great 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’. But it is a cause that has enlisted the full spectrum of the religious community — Jews and Muslims, Eastern Orthodox and Mainline Protestant, Hindu and Buddhist.

Except for white evangelicals. Outliers, they are now in thrall to a political party that over the past decade has increasingly opposed all efforts to address climate change. Their religious rationalization is that they are standing with a God who promised no more floods against pagan “Earth worshippers.”

“Slavery degrades the Religious Activity of the People,” preached Boston’s leading abolitionist minister Theodore Parker on July 4, 1858. Today it is climate change denial that is degrading the religious activity of the evangelical people. https://religionnews.com/2018/02/06/trumps-environmental-good-news/

February 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change, environment, politics, USA | Leave a comment

France plans to phase out nuclear power without increasing carbon emissions

PARIS (Reuters) 27 Jan 18, – France will not increase carbon emissions as it reduces its reliance on nuclear energy in coming years, a junior minister told energy newsletter Enerpresse.

The centrist government of French President Emmanuel Macron has launched a year-long debate about energy policy before deciding in early 2019 on the future share of nuclear energy in France’s power production. It now stands at 75 percent.

To assist discussions, grid operator RTE has prepared scenarios for cutting nuclear energy’s share from 56 percent to 11 percent by 2035, and an additional scenario on reducing nuclear reliance to 50 percent by 2025.

 Environment activists complain that the government has withheld scenarios cutting back nuclear capacity the most, when it held workshops this month to prepare for the public debate.

Junior Energy and Environment Minister Sebastien Lecornu told Enerpresse the scenarios that would lead to the construction of new thermal power stations were held back.

“We are clear about what we want for the energy mix, the increase of carbon emissions is not an option for us,” he said.

France would not build more plants powered by coal or fuel oil, he said, but said the government would consider whether there was a role for gas, which has lower emissions than coal or other fossil fuels.

Lecornu’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sustainable energy advocacy group NegaWatt said on Thursday the most ambitious scenarios for reducing nuclear reliance could be achieved without boosting CO2 emissions provided there was a stronger focus on energy efficiency and if the nuclear reactors had their lifespans’ extended a little beyond 40 years.

 The majority of EDF’s nuclear reactors were connected to the grid between 1980 and 1990. Closing them all promptly after 40 years, their scheduled lifespan, would cut so much capacity that France would have to build new gas plants to fill the gap.

EDF wants to extend the lifespan of its reactors to 50 years, but will need approval of nuclear regulator ASN for each reactor. The ASN has said it will rule on the principle of lifespan extensions in 2021.  Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Edmund Blair

January 27, 2018 Posted by | climate change, France, politics | Leave a comment

Sea level rise, nuclear trash – Pacific islanders tragedy – only New Zealand offers help

Guano, Nuclear Testing, Chemical Weapons   Another guano claim converted for U.S. military use is Johnston Atoll (Kamala), located about 800 miles southwest of Honolulu.

One phase of expansion on Johnston Island involved construction of a launch pad for high-altitude missile tests for Operation Dominic in the 1960s. Two of the tests were aborted, with radioactive contamination falling on the runway. Forty years later, in 2002, the Air Force “finished burying thousands of cubic meters of plutonium-contaminated waste in a 25-acre landfill on the atoll.”

The question, then, is not when will islands be submerged, but when will sea-level rise make life on low-lying islands impossible.

The answer to that question is close at hand for a number of Pacific islands.

Perhaps the biggest legal stride in New Zealand is Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s recent announcement of plans for a special refugee visa for Pacific Islanders, starting with 100 places annually. “We are anchored in the Pacific,” Ardern told reporters. “Surrounding us are a number of nations, not least ourselves, who will be dramatically impacted by the effects of climate change. I see it as a personal and national responsibility to do our part.”

American Polynesia, Rising Seas and Relocation, By Laray Polk, Global Research, January 06, 2018 The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 22 December 2017 In the next 30 to 50 years, rising sea levels caused by global warming will subsume low-lying islands in the Pacific Ocean. Inhabitants will have to relocate, but there are few choices. Among nations (with the exception of Fiji and New Zealand) there is little preparation for the inevitable migration of Pacific Islanders. Which nations should commit to the processes of equitable relocation?

 

January 20, 2018 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA, wastes | Leave a comment