This chart of rising ocean temperatures is terrifying

http://grist.org/news/this-chart-of-rising-ocean-temperatures-is-terrifying/

This year’s biggest climate change news was that 2014 was hottest year on record. Turns out, there’s bigger news: It was also the hottest year in the oceans, which are warming so fast they’re literally breaking the NOAA’s charts.

Don’t think you mind a little jacuzzification in your ocean? You’re wrong. Warmer oceans matter because “global warming” doesn’t just mean above average air temperatures over the course of a year — it actually refers to an increase in the total amount of heat energy contained in the Earth’s systems. While air temperatures can fluctuate on any given year, they are usually matched by an increase or decrease of the amount of heat stored in the oceans (which, by the way, absorb around 90 percent of total global warming heat). To know whether the system as a whole is getting warmer or not, scientists need to take into account the temperatures of the atmosphere, land, AND oceans.

Luckily, NOAA has been tracking ocean energy data for decades, updating its charts every few months. Unluckily, the newest data shows that, on top of 2014’s record-breaking air temperatures, ocean temperatures have also increased — to put it in layman’s terms — a shit ton. The spike is so significant that NOAA will have to rescale its heat chart.

Ocean heat content data to a depth of 2,000 meters
Ocean heat content data to a depth of 2,000 meters
NOAA

OK, people. We don’t want to sound like a broken record about the reality of climate change … and actually this time we don’t have to. This is one broken record that speaks for itself.

From sea lions to penguin chicks, adorable animals are dying in droves

http://grist.org/science/from-sea-lions-to-penguin-chicks-adorable-animals-are-dying-in-droves/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=EDIT%20Weekly&utm_campaign=weekly

We know and love sea lions for their soulful eyes and playful antics — they’re basically the golden retrievers of the ocean. But recently, sea lionsdsc_0224 have been making headlines for much sadder reasons: Droves of malnourished sea lion pups have been washing up all over the Southern Californian coast. More than 1,450 pups have stranded without their mothers since January, reported the Washington Post.

The cause? Starvation.

Warmer waters off the coast of California are likely driving away sea lions’ prey such as squid, anchovies, and sardines, said Justin Viezbicke, stranding services coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). As a result, mother sea lions are having to go further from birthing grounds — usually around the Channel Islands — to forage for food, meaning that pups probably don’t get enough nutrients from their mothers when they return. The pups then wean off their mothers earlier and are underweight when they leave the island, likely to find food of their own.

“They’re leaving with a low tank of gas and there’s really not much out there to help them out,” said Viezbicke. “They’re jumping into … a challenging environment and then they’re ending up washing ashore on the mainland, starving.”

Organizations like NOAA and other animal rescue programs have been taking in pups and feeding them — but that’s only a stopgap measure.

“This is something that’s naturally occurring out there, so there’s really not much we can do other than watch and learn from the situation,” Viezbicke said. “We can’t really prevent or stop it, unfortunately.”

Left to their own devices, these stranded sea lion pups probably wouldn’t make it. (No judgement if you need a tissue here. I’ll wait.)

As sad as it sounds, starvation events and mass mortality events (in which vast numbers of animals die), are becoming more and more common in this wacky, warming world. Thanks to a number of large-scale, systemic alterations (lookin’ at you, El Niño and warming ocean temps), the world’s ecosystems hang in a delicate balance.

Meet the Cassin auklet — a pudgy, fist-sized seabird with crescent-shaped eye markings and pale blue feet. They’re pretty dang cute. And thousands of them are washing up dead along the West Coast — all the way from Northern California to British Columbia.

“My volunteers alone … have found 7,000 carcasses [over the last four months],” said Julia Parrish, executive director of the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) at the University of Washington. “It’s a scary big number.”

Like the sea lions, auklets are literally dying for a meal. The birds primarily feed on zooplankton or krill. However, in the last year, a mass of warm water — very scientifically named “the blob” — drove the usual Pacific krill into deeper waters and brought in a host of zooplankton that the auklets don’t eat, reported Audubon Magazine.

When a high number of birds wash ashore dead, the events are called “wrecks.” Generally speaking, smaller wrecks are fairly normal, Parrish explained. If there’s a storm out at sea, it’s not unusual for seabirds caught in its path to die, whether from starvation or storm conditions, and later wash up on beaches. That’s just how it goes.

But this time, something is different. “This is the biggest wreck we’ve ever seen in the 16 years we’ve been doing this work,” Parrish said. “I think it’s probably the largest wreck we’ve seen on West Coast … That makes me sit up and take notice.”

This winter’s wreck could be especially bad if enough of the dead auklets turn out to be adults, because an entire reproductive group may have been wiped out. They won’t know for sure until the birds return to their breeding grounds. Until then, it’s a lot of waiting and counting dead birds.

beachedaucklets
D. Derickson/COASST

So is this climate change at play? Scientists are hesitant to say.

Dee Boersma, a conservation scientist and founder of the Penguin Sentinels Project at UW, compares the vulnerability of seabirds to weather and climate to the vulnerability of a human crossing a busy street: You could get hit by a truck, but it doesn’t happen every time. And just as it’s hard to predict exactly how likely you are to survive a street-crossing as a human, the same goes for storms and their effects on Magellanic penguins, she said.

In 2014, Boersma and other penguin researchers published a study in PLOS ONE which found that climate change was directly responsible for the deaths of more than 200 Magellanic penguin chicks from 1983 to 2010 in Punta Tombo, Argentina. There, climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of storms, while lowering the reproductive success of Magellanic penguins, the study reported.

During the 27-year-long study, young penguins perished at a high rate due to a combination of starvation and overexposure during exceptionally rainy and hot seasons. The chicks’ feather coats keep them cozy when they are dry, but that changes when they get wet: The fluffy down isn’t waterproof, like adult penguin feathers. So if a penguin chick gets caught in the rain during a storm, it’s like a human “being stuck outside and naked in a wet sleeping bag … the penguins basically die of hypothermia like you or I would,” said Boersma.

Plus, a lack of food leaves the chicks unprepared to cool themselves down when things heat up, since they rely on the food their parents bring them for all of their water. Without adequate hydration, the chicks can’t depend on evaporation to keep cool and become vulnerable to heat stress.

It’s a lethal combination: Over the course of the study, an average of 65 percent of the Punta Tombo chicks died every year, with about 40 percent dying of starvation.

Chicks that died of hypothermia after a rainstorm.
Chicks that died of hypothermia after a rainstorm.
Dee Boersma / University of Washington

So what was that about climate change again? Mass animal die-offs and starvation epidemics are shocking no matter what, even to hardened scientists. Climate change is just exacerbating these kinds of things.

“The fact is that we have populations responding to warming events, whether the warming is temporary or inexorable,” said Parrish, the researcher studying the dying auks.

The world’s ecosystems are hanging on as best they can, but small things can throw them out of balance. It’s unfair to compare the temperatures that a wild ecosystem can withstand to the temperatures humans can, because we have tools and technology on our side. “Wildlife needs habitat,” Parrish said. “In today’s crowded world, habitat only exists in certain places — places that we protect. And when the climate warms, those places change.”

“[Even one degree] is a huge deal,” Parrish points out. To understand and support conservation efforts, humans need to “think like a fish, a clam, or an oyster, and not like a person.”

Leave fossil fuels buried to prevent climate change, study urges

Fracking for Oil within 100 miles of Williston North Dakota. Along the Missouri River and the Bakken shale formation. Gas burning off from newly tracked well, there is no infrastructure to capture any of this gas.

New research is first to identify which reserves must not be burned to keep global temperature rise under 2C, including over 90% of US and Australian coal and almost all Canadian tar sands

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/07/much-worlds-fossil-fuel-reserve-must-stay-buried-prevent-climate-change-study-says

Also see: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/03/too-much-human-poo-on-mount-everest-says-nepal

Global warming helped trigger Syria’s bloody civil war

[Watch for more of this kind of news in the coming years as anthropogenic climate change leads to more drought, weather disruption and food scarcity…]

http://mashable.com/2015/03/02/global-warming-syria-civil-war/

by Andrew Freedman

Manmade global warming helped spark the brutal civil war in Syria by doubling to tripling the odds that a crippling drought in the Fertile Crescent would occur shortly before the fighting broke out, according to a groundbreaking new study published on March 2.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to attribute the drought in Syria in large part to global warming.

In doing so, it provides powerful evidence backing up the Pentagon and intelligence community’s assessments that climate change is likely to play the role of a “threat multiplier” in coming decades, pushing countries that are already vulnerable to upheaval over the edge and into open conflict.

Previous studies had shown that the drought, along with other factors such as an influx of refugees from the Iraq War next door, helped prime Syria for conflict by 2011, when the uprising began, before transitioning into an all-out civil war. Today, once-cosmopolitan Syria has been reduced to rubble, with the terrorist group known as ISIS taking over large swaths of territory.

At least 200,000 people are estimated to have died in this conflict so far.

A Syrian refugee woman is seen between a line of tents in a refugee camp near Azaz, north of Aleppo province, Syria, Sunday, Feb 17, 2013.

AP Photo / Manu Brabo

Turkey, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan may face an even more tenuous security situation in the coming decades.

The drought, which gripped the country between 2007 and 2010, forced 1.5 million farmers and herders in northeastern Syria to flee their lands and travel to urban areas in search of food and work.

This profound demographic shift helped further destabilize the country, the study says.

The study also found that much of the eastern Mediterranean, including Syria, parts of Turkey, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan — no bastions of stability today — may face an even more tenuous security situation in the coming decades as global warming increases temperatures and reduces rainfall throughout much of the region.

According to this study and others, global warming along with unsustainable water use is causing the Fertile Crescent, where agriculture and animal herding first began 12,000 years ago, to lose its fertility.

“This region is going to continue to get drier and continue to get hotter, so this is only a problem that is going to continue to get worse in that region,” says Colin Kelley, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Although the drought did not directly cause the war and subsequent rise of ISIS, which the U.S. and its allies are combating using military force, it formed a significant part in the cascading series of events that led to the deadly Syrian conflict.

Government policies that encouraged the unsustainable use of water resources and provided inadequate aid to displaced persons, among other factors, also ratcheted up Syria’s vulnerability to conflict around the time of the drought.

“We would not say and did not even attempt to say that the uprising was caused by climate change,” Kelley says. Rather, the drought was one in a chain of events that led to the breakout of hostilities.

“[Syria’s] vulnerability was so acute that all it took was something to push them over the edge,” he said in an interview.

Kelley says the drought set in motion a series of events that wound up sparking one of the deadliest conflicts of the 21st century to date. “A lot of these farming communities abandoned their villages and went to the cities at the same time that Iraqi refugees were coming in,” Kelley says.

“There was a very big population shock to these urban areas.”

Urban areas in Syria saw a population jump of 50% between 2002 to 2010, from 8.9 million to 13.8 million, as a result of refugees fleeing fighting in Iraq as well as those who were abandoning their land in northeastern Syria.

“That’s a tremendous increase in people to these urban areas over this period,” Kelley told Mashable. “It’s not at all surprising that the uprising happened shortly after this.”

Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Laboratory in New York and a co-author of the study, told Mashable that farmers were prepared to cope with a one-to-two-year dry spell, but three years exceeded their ability to cope.

“The length and severity of this drought [that was] made more likely by human climate change was absolutely key in driving the agricultural community toward a threshold where they had no other opportunity but to pick up and leave,” Seager says.

Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day Again

Last night I watched the timeless 1973 movie, Soylent Green, again and was again impressed (unfavorably) by how much the futuristic world that it depicted mirrored the world we’re headed for now. The temperature of the overcrowded New York of the future was a constant 90 degrees; the oceans were dying (presumably from overfishing and pollution, they hadn’t heard of acidification at the time); and the world was running out of food..

Spoiler Alert:

Set in 2022, the film opens with a slide show of earlier eras, back when the Earth was covered with forests and open fields, and there were only a few scattered settlements of people who travelled in horse-drawn wagons.

As the images pass quickly by, we see the first automobiles (tail pipes spewing toxic climate-changing carbon gases), followed by a massive blacktop parking lot jam packed with Model Ts. The pictures begin to flash almost more rapidly than we can focus, but we catch glimpses of factories with smokestacks billowing and crowds of people barely able to

move without trampling one another. (Come to think of it, what we are witnessing looks a lot like the inside of an average modern-day poultry barn, where chickens and turkeys are forced to live out their lives in intense confinement.)

The first scene of action takes place in a cramped little New York City apartment, the dwelling of the film’s two main characters, Thorn, a semi-corrupt detective, and his elderly room-mate and research partner, Sol, who is constantly going on about the good old days—a world that Thorn can’t possibly envision or relate to.

They are among the lucky few; most people sleep on the stairways or in the hallways or anywhere they can find shelter from the oppressive heat caused by an out of control greenhouse effect. We overhear a program on their worn out old TV which is an interview with the governor of New York, touting a new food product called “Soylent Green,” ostensibly made from the ocean’s plankton. (Everyone in that day and age knows that the land is used up, but they’re told the oceans can still provide for them).

Food in this depressing, human-ravaged world comes in the form of color-coded wafers, distributed under strict government supervision. Hordes of people stand in line for their ration of Soylent yellow or blue made from soy, or other high protein plants grown behind the fortress-walls of heavily guarded farms.

Signs remind the throng that “Tuesday is Soylent Green day.”

The multitudes are exceptionally unruly on Tuesday. Brimming with anticipation, they can’t wait to obtain a ration of the special new product. When the food distributors run out of soylent green, people start rioting and things get out of hand. “Scoops” (garbage trucks fitted with backhoe-like buckets on the front) are called in to scrape up the angry masses and haul them off…

By the end of the film, Thorn learns that the oceans are dead and the actual ingredients of Soylent Green are something a bit harder to stomach than plankton. In the final scene, a mortally-wounded Thorn is carried away on a stretcher as he desperately tries to tell bewildered onlookers, “Soylent Green is People!” “They’re making our food out of people. Next thing, they’ll be breeding us like cattle for food!”

Could it ever happen? Could the human race ever stoop so low? If the scenario seems too hard to swallow­, consider this: the conditions animals are forced to endure on today’s factory farms would have seemed unimaginable to people living a hundred years ago.

Are Humans Going Extinct?

Monday, 01 December 2014 09:45
Written by 
Dahr Jamail By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Interview

Some scientists, Guy McPherson included, fear that climate disruption is so serious, with so many self-reinforcing feedback loops already in play, that humans are in the process of causing our own extinction.

August, September and October were each the hottest months ever recorded, respectively. Including this year, which is on track to become the hottest year ever recorded, 13 of the hottest years on record have all occurred in the last 16 years.

To see more stories like this, visit “Planet or Profit?”

Coal will likely overtake oil as the dominant energy source by 2017, and without a major shift away from coal, average global temperatures could rise by 6 degrees Celsius by 2050, leading to devastating climate change.

“Across two decades and thousands of pages of reports, the world’s most authoritative voice on climate science has consistently understated the rate and intensity of climate change and the danger those impacts represent.”

This is dramatically worse than even the most dire predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which predicts at least a 5-degree Celsius increase by 2100 as its worst-case scenario, if business continues as usual with no major mitigation efforts.

Yet things continue growing worse faster than even the IPCC can keep up with.

Scientific American has said of the IPCC: “Across two decades and thousands of pages of reports, the world’s most authoritative voice on climate science has consistently understated the rate and intensity of climate change and the danger those impacts represent.”

And there is nothing to indicate, in the political or corporate world, that there will be anything like a major shift in policy aimed at dramatically mitigating runaway anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD).

Guy McPherson is a professor emeritus of natural resources, and ecology and evolutionary biology, with the University of Arizona, who has been studying ACD for nearly 30 years.

Near-term human extinction could eventually result from losing the Arctic sea ice, which is one of the 40 self-reinforcing feedback loops of ACD.

His blog Nature Bats Last has developed a large readership that continues to grow, and for six years McPherson has been traveling around the world giving lectures about a topic that, even for the initiated, is both shocking and controversial: the possibility of near-term human extinction due to runaway ACD.

As McPherson has told Truthout: “We’ve never been here as a species, and the implications are truly dire and profound for our species and the rest of the living planet.” He told Truthout that he believes that near-term human extinction could eventually result from losing the Arctic sea ice, which is one of the 40 self-reinforcing feedback loops of ACD. “A world without Arctic ice will be completely new to humans,” he said.

At the time of our interview less than one year ago, McPherson had identified 24 self-reinforcing positive feedback loops. Today that number has grown to 40.

A self-reinforcing feedback loop can also be thought of as a vicious circle, in that it accelerates the impacts of ACD. An example would be methane releases in the Arctic. Massive amounts of methane are currently locked in the permafrost, which is now melting rapidly. As the permafrost melts, methane, a greenhouse gas 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a short timescale, is released into the atmosphere, warming it, which in turn causes more permafrost to melt, and so on.

In the near term, earth’s climate will change 10 times faster than during any other moment in the last 65 million years.

While McPherson’s perspective might sound way-out and like the stuff of science fiction, similar things have happened on this planet in the past. Fifty-five million years ago, a 5-degree Celsius rise in average global temperatures seems to have occurred in just 13 years, according to a study published in the October 2013 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A report in the August 2013 issue of Science revealed that in the near term, earth’s climate will change 10 times faster than during any other moment in the last 65 million years.

Prior to that, the Permian mass extinction that occurred 250 million years ago, also known as “The Great Dying,” was triggered by a massive lava flow in an area of Siberia that led to an increase in global temperatures of 6 degrees Celsius. That, in turn, caused the melting of frozen methane deposits under the seas. Released into the atmosphere, those gases caused temperatures to skyrocket further. All of this occurred over a period of approximately 80,000 years. The change in climate is thought to be the key to what caused the extinction of most species on the planet. In that extinction episode, it is estimated that 95 percent of all species were wiped out.

Today’s current scientific and observable evidence strongly suggests we are in the midst of the same process – only this time it is anthropogenic, and happening exponentially faster than the Permian mass extinction did.

We are likely to begin seeing periods of an ice-free Arctic by as soon as this coming summer, or the summer of 2016 at the latest.

Once the summer ice begins melting, methane releases will worsen dramatically.

Our current extinction event is already greatly exceeding the speed, and might eventually even exceed the intensity, of the Permian mass extinction event.

We are currently in the midst of what most scientists consider the sixth mass extinction in planetary history, with between 150 and 200 species going extinct daily – a pace 1,000 times greater than the “natural” or “background” extinction rate. Our current extinction event is already greatly exceeding the speed, and might eventually even exceed the intensity, of the Permian mass extinction event. The difference is that ours is human caused, isn’t going to take 80,000 years, has so far lasted just a few centuries and is now gaining speed in a nonlinear fashion.

Is it possible that, on top of the vast quantities of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels that continue to enter the atmosphere in record amounts yearly, an increased release of methane could signal the beginning of the sort of process that led to the Great Dying? Some scientists, McPherson included, fear that the situation is already so serious and so many self-reinforcing feedback loops are already in play that we are in the process of causing our own extinction. Worse yet, some are convinced that it could happen far more quickly than generally believed possible – even in the course of just the next few decades.

Truthout caught up with McPherson at the Earth at Risk conference in San Francisco recently to ask him about his prediction of human extinction, and what that means for our lives today.

Dahr Jamail: What are some of the current signs and reports you’re seeing that are disconcerting, and really give you pause?

Guy McPherson: I’ve been traveling, so I’m out of date for the last 10 days. But starting with the snowstorm in Buffalo, New York, that was the biggest snowstorm ever recorded in Buffalo, at 6 feet 4 inches in 24 hours. It’s the largest one ever recorded in the United States.

Australia, meanwhile, is on fire. I just came back from New Zealand, and spring had just turned there because it’s the Southern Hemisphere. The whole time I was there people were commenting on how hot it was, and “how far into summer we already are,” and it was early to mid-spring when I was there.

So there’s all kinds of observational evidence.

“It’s hard for me to imagine we make it into the 2030s as a species.”

We triggered another self-reinforcing feedback loop, number 40, just about two weeks ago; then just a week ago there was a [scientific] paper that came out indicating that for every 1-degree temperature rise, there is 7 percent more lightning strikes. So that contributes to a previously existing self-reinforcing feedback loop, that of fires, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, and especially in the boreal forests. So, as it gets warmer and drier, there are more and bigger fires, and that kicks more carbon into the atmosphere, which of course contributes to ongoing, accelerating climate disruption.

So lightning is yet another piece of that. As there is more moisture in the atmosphere and more heat going into the atmosphere and warming the planet, we have more lightning. The whole atmosphere becomes more dynamic. So, those are things that come to mind.

From your analysis, how long do you think humanity has before extinction occurs?

That’s such a hard question, and we are such a clever species. It’s clear that abrupt climate change is underway. Methane has gone exponential in the atmosphere. Paul Beckwith, climate scientist at University of Ottawa, indicates we could experience a 6-degree Celsius temperature rise in the span of a decade. He thinks we’ll survive that. I can’t imagine how that could be. He’s a laser physicist and engineer, so I think he doesn’t understand biology and requisite habitat that we need to survive.

So it’s difficult for me to imagine a scenario where we’ll survive even a 4-degree Celsius [above pre-industrial baseline] temperature rise, and we’ll be there in the very near future, like by 2030, plus or minus. So it’s hard for me to imagine we make it into the 2030s as a species.

But when I deliver public presentations I try not to focus on any particular date; I just try to remind people that they are mortal. That birth is lethal, and that we don’t have long on this planet even if we live to be 100, so we might want to pursue what we love, instead of pursuing the next dollar.

A more micro-look from that question – what do you see happening in the US, if Beckwith and other scientists who are predicting that rapid a rise of temperatures in such a short time frame are correct?

The interior of continents heats at least twice as fast as the global average. So a 6-degree Celsius rise in the global average means at least 12 degrees Celsius in the interior of continents – that means no question there is no habitat for humans in the interior. So you would have to be in a maritime environment.

“It’s difficult for me to imagine a situation in which plants, even land plants survive, because they can’t get up and move.”

I think even before we get to 6 degrees Celsius above baseline, we lose all habitats. We lose all or nearly all the phytoplankton in the oceans, which are in serious decline already as the result of an increasingly acidified ocean environment. It’s difficult for me to imagine a situation in which plants, even land plants survive, because they can’t get up and move. So without plants there is no habitat.

At a 6-degree Celsius temperature rise in the span of decades, there’s no way for evolution by natural selection to keep up with that. Already, climate change – which at this point has been pretty slow and what we would call linear change – already climate change is outpacing evolution by natural selection by at least a factor of 10,000, so I don’t see any way the planet is going to keep up.

More:

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27714-are-humans-going-extinct

Also read:  The Methane Monster Roars

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-methane-monster-roars/5426116

1795497_611414028914288_1804650880_n

 

Half of the members of the US Senate don’t believe humans cause climate change

1795497_611414028914288_1804650880_n

The votes are in, and … half of the members of the US Senate don’t believe humans cause climate change.

This is a national embarrassment. Differences of opinion are one thing, but it’s far more troubling when half of the members of our most distinguished legislative body simply ignore facts supported by overwhelming scientific consensus.

Let’s take the Senate to school. Sign the climate science petition — when we get 50,000 signatures, Avaaz will run a poll quizzing schoolchildren on climate, then launch ads in the biggest papers showing that the US Senate is failing science class compared to middle schoolers. Sign now:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/schooling_the_senate_on_climate_science_re/?bVYyJab&v=52978

Things are bad in Washington. The first real legislation the new Senate passed this year? To build the climate-wrecking Keystone XL pipeline. The new chair of the Senate’s environmental committee is James Inhofe, the Senate’s climate denier-in-chief who quotes the Bible to claim humans can’t change the planet. But the climate science report from the National Academies of Science — commissioned by Congress itself — says the exact opposite!

The report’s #1 finding was that “Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused primarily by human activities, and poses significant risks to humans and the environment.” Going against this is like asking mathematicians for a number line, then saying that 1 is smaller than zero.

Deep down, most of the Senators who voted against scientific fact must know they’re full of it. The American people do — a new report just found that a majority want Congress to do more on climate. And our best shot at changing the game is to publicly embarrass them.  Sign on now, and help teach Congress a lesson that even 8th graders know:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/schooling_the_senate_on_climate_science_re/?bVYyJab&v=52978

Human-caused climate change is no joke. That so many of our supposed leaders are so out of step with basic science, settled years ago, means that the people are going to have to lead on this one. That’s a role the Avaaz community knows how to fill — we did it in New York in September with the People’s Climate March, and we can do it again now.

With hope,

Terra, David, John, Nataliya, Fatima, Ricken, and the Avaaz team

SOURCES
National Academy of Sciences “Climate Choices” Report summary
http://dels.nas.edu/Report/America-Climate-Choices-2011/12781

So Much Senate Climate Change Trolling (Think Progress)
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/01/21/3614028/so-much-senate-climate-change-trolling/

US Senate refuses to accept humanity’s role in global climate change, again (The Guardian)
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/22/us-senate-man-climate-change-global-warming-hoax

Most Americans support government action on climate change (NY Times)
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/politics/most-americans-support-government-action-on-climate-change-poll-finds.html

Abrupt Climate Change, Already?

 

http://www.ukprogressive.co.uk/abrupt-climate-change-already/article35431.html

by Robert Hunziker

There are some serious scientists who believe it is already here. If their analysis is correct, the world could turn nearly uninhabitable within current lifetimes.

In that regard, the American public is overly, dangerously casual about the prospects/risks of abrupt climate change. This is found in numerous studies and polls, e.g. according to a Pew Research Global Attitudes Project, in an international survey of 39 countries, Americans were among the least concerned about climate change threatening the country. Global warming also ranked near the bottom of Americans’ priorities.

As it goes, the American public may be caught off guard, unprepared, and ill equipped to press its political establishment for appropriate action because abrupt climate change has a history of happening very, very quickly, within decades, not over hundreds of years.

Assuming these scientists are correct, by the time the U.S. Congress gets serious about climate change, they’ll be wearing waders.

As for the risks associated with abrupt climate change, according to Paul Beckwith, Laboratory for Paleoclimatology and Climatology, University of Ottawa, in the past: “The temperature of the planet has increased by 5C or 6C within one decade or two decades… not within a hundred years but within one or two decades… during the ice age period between 70,000 and 40,000 years ago, the temperature rose over Greenland 5-6C in a decade or two… and 55 million years ago… the temperature rose globally by 5C in 13 years, as shown in sediment samples.” (Source: COP20: Global Arctic Methane Emergency https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQkNxuQ0DoI

Based upon historic records, once abrupt climate change commences, and when viewed on a geological-time basis, it has the potential to take off like a house on fire. According to Paul Beckwith, unfortunately: “We’re undergoing the early stages of abrupt climate change,” already, right now!  As such, a rapid self-fulfilling temperature rise of 5C or 6C would be devastating for life, as we know it.

This risk of further rapid abrupt climate change, as for example, temperatures zooming Featured Image -- 8189upwards, depends upon the integrity of the ice of the Arctic, among other considerations. As emphasized by Beckwith, when analyzing the climate system, it is important to understand that metrics can be misleading.  For example, the consensus opinion talks about 2C as a cap for rising temperatures; however, in point of fact, “What is important is the temperature distribution on the planet on a latitudinal basis.”

Beckwith: “The Arctic is absorbing a lot more solar energy, and by itself at a much greater rate, than anywhere else on the planet. In fact, on average, in the last number of decades, the Arctic temperature has risen 1.0C per decade whereas the global average temperature rise has been about 0.15C per decade. So that ratio is 6 or 7 times more.”

Therefore, the most immediate risk of further abrupt climate change hinges on how well the Arctic withstands global warming. As the Arctic loses ice mass, it releases more, and more, methane (CH4), which is much more powerful at entrapping heat than is carbon dioxide (CO2), and because massive quantities of CH4 are embedded within the ice, only a small fraction may cause the planet to heat up rapidly, going into deadly overdrive, resulting in numerous outgrowths negatively impacting life. As for example, rapid increase in sea levels, flooding coastal cities, embedded droughts, diminishing agricultural production, severe storm activity, and horrific heat throughout the mid latitudes, resulting in panic, illness, and sudden death. It is likely the world turns chaotic.

Scientists are radically divided on the issue of abrupt climate change and few predict an upsurge any time soon. Nevertheless, it’s the scientists who base their opinion on first hand knowledge, “boots on the ground,” who are screaming the loudest. They do not let the “ computer models” override what they personally experience. In contrast, they see and feel the reality “in the field.”  They are like scientific pioneers in the field, in the marsh, below and above the ice, on expeditions into the wilderness where nobody cares to tread. It’s hard work.

Those scientific pioneers, like John Nissen, Chairman of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (“AMEG”), are deeply concerned about the rate of melt of the Arctic, and the attendant enormous plumes of methane, already observed in the Arctic seas, especially in the East Siberian Ice Shelf where waters are shallow and easily warmed, threatening to release gigatons of methane.  Expeditions above, below, and on the surface have convinced these scientists that we’ve got a huge problem coming up, maybe soon, maybe too soon.

According to John Nissen: “Sea ice could disappear at the end of summer as soon as next September. At that point, further warming of the Arctic, sea level rise, methane release, in that time bomb, and abrupt climate change, could become unstoppable. The fuse will have been lit and will be going off very quickly. We consider it an absolute scandal that IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] says nothing about the greatest threat to humanity since civilization began.”

In turn, these pioneering scientists listen to other scientists who also favor “boots on the ground” analysis over scientific modeling, people like Dr. Natalia Shakhova, who leads the Russia-U.S. Methane Study at the International Arctic Research Center, at the University Alaska Fairbanks and the Pacific Oceanological Institute, Far Eastern Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Shakhova’s expeditions to the Arctic convince her that only a tiny percentage of the vast amounts of methane buried in Arctic ice is necessary to double current atmospheric CH4. Worse yet, she suspects an outburst of 50 gigatons could happen at any time. In many respects, this would be a disaster beyond repair.

In an interview, Shakhova says, “We do not like what we see… absolutely do not like it.”

In the end, too much carbon dioxide emitted by burning too much gas, oil & coal, blankets the atmosphere enough to heat up the Arctic far above and way beyond past centuries, causing torrential weather patterns throughout the Northern Hemisphere, and shaking lose too much methane for human comfort.

Could civilization withstand a 50-gigaton release? Professor Wadhams’ response is: “No, I don’t think it can.”

Is there a solution?

Yes, there may be solutions but according to these scientists, a sense of urgency matters more than anything at this late hour.

Paul Beckwith is one of the scientific pioneers, an advocate, a researcher, and member of AMEG, co-founded by Peter Wadhams, professor of Ocean Physics, University of Cambridge.

Beckwith: “We have to slash emissions there’s no question, slash the CO2 emissions and quickly, but that’s not sufficient. We also have to cool the Arctic, and we also have to try to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.”

The technology is there, solar radiation management, reflecting incoming solar, and sea salt spraying, as well as employing concerted efforts to increase vegetation to absorb CO2, and carbon capture, and biochar.

However, there’s risk because nobody has proven these geoengineering techniques effective on a planetary scale. On that basis, they are experimental. There is no consensus in the world community to test geoengineering, which is very provocative subject matter amongst scientists, some favor, some oppose. And, those opposed adamantly oppose because of potential harmful feedback loops. It may be a risky venture.

But, what if these early-warning scientists are wrong? What if they are absolutely correct about the outcome of global warming/climate change but too optimistic about the timing? This, therefore, is all the more reason for governments to initiate conversions now from fossil fuels to renewables, hopefully rescuing future generations from the potential of a global warming nightmare.

If we lose the ice caps, civilization starves and the world’s coastal cities drown. It’s really as simple, and complex, as that. Already, CO2 levels are at an historic high.

Throughout geological history, “Every time we have hit high CO2, we’ve lost the ice caps,” Peter Ward, professor, Dept. of Earth & Space Sciences, University of Washington, Our Future in a World without Ice Caps, 2013 lecture series.

1795497_611414028914288_1804650880_n

Fish Failing to Adapt to Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels in Ocean

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA’s Environment and Climate Resource Center page.

Spiny damselfish Acanthochromis polyacanthus.
Photograph: Flickr/creative commons

Rising carbon dioxide levels in oceans adversely change the behavior of fish through generations, raising the possibility that marine species may never fully adapt to their changed environment, research has found.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, found that elevated CO2 levels affected fish regardless of whether their parents had also experienced the same environment.

Spiny damselfish were kept in water with different CO2 levels for several months. One level was consistent with the world taking rapid action to cut carbon emissions, while the other was a “business as usual” scenario, in which the current trend in rising emissions would equate to a 3C warming of the oceans by the end of the century.

The offspring of the damselfish were then also kept in these differing conditions, with researchers finding that juveniles of fish from the high CO2 water were no better than their parents in adapting to the conditions.

This suggests that fish will take at least several generations to cope with the changed environment, with no guarantee they will ever do so, meaning several species could be at risk of collapsing due to climate change.

The research was conducted by the ARC center of excellence for coral reef studies, based at James Cook University in Queensland.

Previous studies by the center have found that rising CO2 levels in the oceans directly alters neuron transmitters in fish brains, modifying their behavior. Their sense of smell is hindered, as well as their wariness, meaning more are picked off by predators.

More than 90% of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere, primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is soaked up by the oceans.

When CO2 is dissolved in water it causes ocean acidification, which slightly lowers the pH of the water and changes its chemistry. Crustaceans can find it hard to form shells in highly acidic water, while corals are more prone to bleaching.

Professor Philip Munday, a co-author of the study, told Guardian Australia the research suggested fish would not be able to adapt to climate change in the short term.

>>> Read the Full Article

A Cure for Climate Change: Muscle Over Motor

067

[Why hasn’t this caught on, in the age of carbon footprint awareness?]

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/12/05/muscle-over-motor/

It’s definitely late fall here in Colorado, and the trees have dumped most of their leaves onto the ground. In my neighborhood, this invariably triggers a flurry of lawn contractor activity. A pickup truck pulling a long trailer full of equipment pulls up, a fleet of young guys gets out and each picks up a leafblower, then for the next hour they blow leaves and gasoline fumes back and forth at each other while the surrounding square mile of city becomes a toxic and ear-splitting war zone. Eventually they manage to get a portion of the leaves into plastic bags in their trailer and they motor off.
Just a few days ago, there was yet another snowstorm here, dropping four inches of luxurious fluffy powder onto the newly blown lawns. I was enjoying a quick bike riding errand through the stuff when I encountered another one of my fellow Longmontians clearing the light powder from his short sidewalk with a SNOWBLOWER! Like 99% of the snowfalls in this region, this was a quantity of snow that could have been easily swept aside with a shovel, or a broom, or even a tiny little bird feather.. but my man was out there doing his duty with a gas-powered appliance. The stench leaking from the crude 2-stroke engine left a stain in the air that could be smelled from 500 feet away.
Earlier in the week, when the temperature was in the 60s, other neighbors were using gas-powered lawnmowers to slowly mow their lawns while simultaneously sucking up and chopping the autumn leaves into the lawnmower’s bag, which they then threw out with their weekly trash.
All of these events led my brilliant engineer’s brain to come up with a few new Inventions:
Imagine a leafblower so advanced that it harnesses the power of your abdomen and biceps, while sucking away your stored fat reserves. Yet it operates nearly silently and costs under 15 bucks. With just a simple wooden handle and a few ounces of sturdy bent plastic or metal prongs, it could be lightweight and quite wide, and be able to clear thousands of square feet of densely-packed leaves per hour, leaving you feeling refreshed and healthier and more connected with Nature every time you use it.
Imagine a snowblower so supreme that it works a complementary set of muscles to the leafblower above: your shoulders and your lower back, as well as the hamstrings and portions of the gluteus. It also operates with silky silence, and it ALSO gets 100% of its power from the ultimate renewable resource – your beer belly. You would assume this would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, right? Wrong! This too is under fifteen bucks.
My next invention is an advanced motorcycle that weighs less than thirty pounds and costs less than three hundred dollars. Yet it has a range of over a hundred miles per day, and you never have to find a power outlet to plug it in, because its power source is – you guessed it – the cellulite stored in your ass which gets converted into muscles in your legs and calves as a side effect of the transportation!!
I know I am blowing your mind with these inventions, but I actually have working prototypes right in my garden shed and garage.
I also have a lawnmower with a spinning reel of sharp metal blades that gets its power from me pushing on the handle, and even a boat (which I am demonstrating for you in the picture below), that is 11 feet long, and able to navigate everything from tranquil lakes to roaring ocean surf waves to car-sized river rapids.. but which deflates to fit in a bike trailer, weighs less than 25 pounds, costs less than $100, and is also powered entirely by muscles.
Yee Haw! Motorboats be damned.
I think you might be noticing a pattern here. And the pattern is of course Muscle over Motor. It’s more than just an article. It’s a Founding Principle of Mustachianism, because when you embrace it, it adds great fun to your life even while it simultaneously strips away the fat from your physique and your budget. It’s one of the most powerful little three-word sentences you can embrace.
Because of the power of Muscle over Motor, you should be deeply suspicious of anything with a motor. A motor represents a shortcut to getting something done. That sounds good on the surface, but you must consider what you are shortcutting.
A motorboat will get you across the lake quickly, but wait a minute, you like being on the lake – so why not use your muscles to actually earn your trip across it. It takes longer – that is a good thing. You will enjoy the beers on the deck afterwards much more when you really deserve them.
A Hummer will get you up the logging road and across the rocky meadows. But dude, you’re sitting in a glorified Lazy-Boy recliner and pushing on a pedal. What kind of wussy way of climbing a mountain is that? Leave the motor vehicles where the pavement ends and put on your hiking boots like a Real Man or Woman (or a pair of old flip-flops if you want to be even more badass like a local ultrahiker friend of mine). If you want speed and the ability to cross dozens of miles of terrain per day (as well as catching much more air on the descents), try a mountain bike instead of an SUV.
A Harley with its quiet stock mufflers replaced with illegal straight pipes will get you through some beautiful rocky canyon roads and allow you to ruin the outdoor dining of thousands of people in the hopping downtown Chicago restaurant districts. But a nice lightweight road bike will get you up the same roads and let you hear the birds at the same time, and your resulting muscular physique and healthy glow will get a lot more positive attention in downtown Chicago than the overpriced motorcycle and standard-issue black leather “Independent-minded Renegade Harley® Rider” Halloween costume ever will.
If you need to carry a few bags of cement over to a neighbor’s house, try a wheelbarrow or dolly instead of a pickup truck. If you need to get up to a different level of a building, give me a break, you don’t need an elevator or escalator… find the stairs! You work on the 63rd floor? I envy you!
In the gym, the machines with displays are to be mocked, because there is already a much more effective yet simpler tool that helps you exercise, namely the chunks of metal with handles on them in the free weights section.. or better yet, in your own garage or basement or living room or friend’s house. Even if you’re missing some of your younger physical abilities or you are in a wheelchair, you can still use what you’ve still got to kick as much ass as possible!
The thing about this philosophy is that it keeps you very busy, which means it keeps you out of trouble. If you are following Muscle over Motor, your leisure time is packed with active high-effort outdoor activities which you love. And because of this, you don’t even have time to take up expensive hobbies like waterskiing behind a powerboat, or jacking up your Jeep so it has higher ground clearance so you can drive it around the trails at Moab, or riding ATVs around to shoot at animals. These are surely fun activities as well, but we all have a finite amount of time and money. So which activities do we choose: the expensive ones where you sit on your butt and twist a throttle? Or the low-cost ones that also make us healthy and develop our physical skills?
This isn’t a perfect rule, because there are exceptions. Motors are still useful when we’re trying to get some serious work done. I’m not suggesting that the world’s excavator operators climb down out of their cabins and pick up garden shovels, or that carpenters sell their table saws and start cutting 16-foot trim boards with a handsaw. Taxi drivers may or may not want to switch to rickshaws, and accountants should definitely not give up their computers.
But when applied to most of your life, this whole idea of powering your own damned recreational activities (including lawn care) is a great one. It’s another form of Insourcing, but it applies to everyone, not just homeowners with chores.  If you find yourself tempted to use a motor when a muscle will do just as well, you should imagine me hovering behind you and reminding you of the slogan every time you reach for a gas-powered lifestyle accessory. More: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/12/05/muscle-over-motor/
[Again, why hasn’t this caught on, in the age of carbon footprint awareness?]