WA Gov. Blames Climate Change for Wildfires

A major fire in the forests at Ahirikot in Srinagar, Uttarakhand state, India, Monday, May 2, 2016. Massive wildfires that have killed at least seven people in recent weeks were burning through pine forests in the mountains of northern India on Monday, including parts of two tiger reserves.(Press Trust of India via AP) INDIA OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO ARCHIVE

Inslee declares state of emergency, blames climate change as E. Wash. wildfires rage

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Several wildfires continued to burn in Eastern Washington Tuesday and Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency for 20 counties.

Firefighters appeared to be gaining the upper hand against wildfires burning in the Spokane region, although heavy smoke blanketed the state’s second-largest city.

Inslee visited a fire command center on the Spokane County Fairgrounds on Tuesday morning, and blamed tree diseases and rising temperatures caused by climate change for the state’s recent spate of record wildfire seasons.

Inslee says diseased trees and climate change have created “explosive conditions” in forests.

“Our forests and wild lands are under attack from climate change,” Inslee said.

More: http://komonews.com/news/local/eastern-wash-wildfires-keep-growing-gov-inslee-heads-to-area

Operating at a Deficit

Excerpt from the 2005 book, The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth, by Tim Flannery:

“The twentieth century opened on a world that was home to little more than a billion people and closed on a world of 6 billion, and every one of those 6 billion is using on average four times as much energy as their forefathers did 100 years before. This helps account for the fact that the burning of fossil fuels has increased sixteenfold over that period…

“In 1961 there was still room to maneuver. In that seemingly distant age there were just 3 billion people and they were all using only half of the total resources that our global ecosystem could sustainably provide. A short twenty-five years later, in 1986, we had reached a watershed, for that year our population topped 5 billion, and such was our collective thirst for resources that we were using all of Earth’s sustainable production.

“In effect, 1986 marks the year that humans reached Earth’s carrying capacity, and ever since we have been running the equivalent of a deficit budget, which is sustained only by plundering our capital base. The plundering takes the form of overexploiting fisheries, overgrazing pasture until it becomes desert, destroying forests, and polluting our oceans and atmosphere, which in turn leads to the large number of environmental issues we face. In the end, though, the environmental budget is the only one that really counts.

“By 2001 humanity’s deficit had ballooned to 20%, and our population to over 6 billion. By 2050, when the population is expected to level out around 9 billion, the burden of human existence will be such that we will be using–if they can still be found–nearly two planets’ worth of resources. But for all the difficulty we’ll experience in finding those resources, it’s our waste–particularly the greenhouse gases–that is the limiting factor.”

Surface Methane

 

 

Biblical Flooding, Crocodiles in the Arctic and Warning Signs on North America’s Highest Mountain

The summit of Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America. (Photo: Stephen Brkich)

The summit of Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America. (Photo: Stephen Brkich)

I recently visited Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America and my favorite place on the planet, for the first time in 13 years. Prior to working full time as a war reporter, I lived in Alaska for nearly a decade, where my life revolved around spending my summers mountaineering in the Alaska Range.

Denali in particular has always been close to my heart. As an alpinist, I take my orders from the mountains and see them as living things. So I make my climbing plans, but then, of course, they are always subject to the weather and route changes the mountain dictates at any given time.

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

Having worked on Denali as both a guide and a volunteer rescue ranger with the National Park Service, I’ve been lucky enough to have stood atop Denali several times, and the influence the mountain has had and continues to have on my life has been profound.

By viewing the mountain as a living thing, I also now view it as a being that is suffering from the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD). The signs this year, along with anecdotal evidence from my mountaineering ranger friends, are overwhelming.

There have been mosquitos at basecamp at 7,200 feet on the Kahiltna Glacier for the last two years — something that had never happened before. We had instructions to wear helmets at two areas of the route where falling rocks have now become common. One of those sections is located between 17,200 and 18,200 feet, which means rocks and boulders that have been frozen solid in ice for thousands of years are now melting out and falling onto the climbing route not far from the summit of North America’s highest mountain. The lower glacier has melted down more than 50 feet in just a decade in some areas, according to one of the rangers I worked with.

Another long-time Denali mountaineering ranger told me of a phenomenon on Mt. Crosson, a mountain nearby Denali, where rock and soil that are becoming increasingly exposed by melting glacier are blowing onto the ice — which is accelerating the melting, as the rock and soil warm and melt more ice.

Mt Crosson, located near Denali, is experiencing increasing melting as exposed rock and soil are blown atop ice. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)Mt Crosson, located near Denali, is experiencing increasing melting as exposed rock and soil are blown atop ice. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Given all of these extreme shifts, climbing is becoming exceedingly dangerous and unpredictable as the years go by.

Seeing these changes firsthand on Denali, a mountain 20,310 feet high and quite close to the Arctic Circle, it comes as no surprise that equally dramatic changes are happening in the Antarctic, as well as other places around the planet.

Antarctica’s Totten Glacier is now unstable and will likely be contributing significantly to multi-meter sea level increase by 2100, if mid- to worst-case climate disruption scenarios play out, according to a recent study.

It is no mystery where all of this melting is coming from: Global carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere is now consistently over 400 ppm, which means we are literally rewriting the history of the planet. The last time there was this much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it was between 15 and 20 million years ago, at which point temperatures were between 3 and 6 degrees Celsius warmer than they are now, and global ice sheets had melted to a point where sea levels were between 25 and 40 meters higher than they are now (the Greenland Ice Sheet did not exist), according to a 2009 study in the journal Science.

To put that another way, we are locking in between 120-190 feet of sea-level rise, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‘s worst case predictions for temperature rise, over the long term.

As dramatic as the current changes are, they pale in comparison to what studies warn is coming our way.

One recent study stated that even mid-range predictions of climate scenarios (bearing in mind we’ve seen even worst-case scenarios being consistently surpassed) will likely force human and animal populations living near the equator to migrate to cooler temperatures.

In the direst prediction yet, a study published recently in Nature Climate Changeprovided us with a view of the world if we continue burning fossil fuels unabated. If that occurs, and to date there is nothing to indicate that it will not, the planet will be 8 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial baseline temperatures, and Earth will have the climate it did 52 million years ago. This means there will be crocodiles and palm trees in the Arctic, where temperatures will increase by 17 degrees.

The study predicted that if significant changes in emissions do not occur, by 2300, greenhouse gases will literally transform the planet into a place where food is scarce and large areas of the world will be uninhabitable by humans. Vast numbers of species of plants and animals would be annihilated.

Myles Allen, the head of a climate dynamics group at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, focuses his research on carbon’s cumulative impacts on climate. Allen told National Geographic that it took less warming — about 6 degrees Celsius — to lift the world out of the Ice Age than the planet may be facing over the next 200 years. Allen said, “That’s the profundity of the change we’re talking about.”

The Earth would resemble what it looked like during the Eocene period 52 to 56 million years ago, when horses shrank to the size of house cats as their evolution adjusted to a diet changed by heat and/or carbon. Melting of all the ice at the poles would cause sea-level increases that would displace the 40 percent of the global population that lives near a coast, precipitation in the tropical Pacific would quadruple, and in the Americas, precipitation would be reduced by one third.

Tropical rainforest systems around the world would collapse. In southern Europe and the US, Allen told National Geographic, drought would be “completely catastrophic for agriculture.”

This picture may appear, at first, like science fiction. However, disconcertingly, signs of several of these dire predictions are already evident, as we survey the planet in this month’s dispatch.

Earth

Crops around the world are now becoming increasingly toxic in order to withstand ACD-influenced extreme weather conditions. When their life-sustaining water becomes ever more scarce, plants find a way of surviving the extreme condition. But that means that, by adapting to their increasingly harsh environments, they accumulate toxins at levels dangerous enough to kill livestock and cause cancer and other serious illnesses in humans.

Southern African countries have been coping with their worst food crisis in a quarter of a century as food prices and rates of malnutrition are both soaring. In Angola, 1.4 million people are suffering from drought and malnutrition rates have doubled; at least 95,000 children are being impacted. A “red alert” has been issued for much of Mozambique, where most of the year’s harvest was lost, and nearly half a million people have been given food aid. In Malawi, 8 million people (half the country), needs food aid (one million tons of food) for the second straight year.

Meanwhile, ACD is threatening the physical existence of world-renowned tourist areas like Easter Island and Stonehenge, as extreme weather events bringing coastal erosion are affecting the sites.

Yet more evidence of how ACD is literally changing the landscape of the planet comes from NASA, which recently released a study showing that large swaths of Canada and Alaska are becoming greener as a result of ACD.

Water

A recently published scientific report in the journal Marine Biology showed that ACD-driven ocean acidification, which occurs when carbon dioxide is dissolved in ocean waters, is both killing and stunting the growth of young crabs, which has the potential of placing entire crab populations at risk of annihilation.

A massive coral bleaching event that impacted the entire Great Barrier Reef in Australia has left roughly one quarter of the coral dead, and scientists now believe that it could well be too late to save what is left, given the ongoing warming of the oceans, coupled with worsening pollution from Australia.

That event, as broad in scope as it was, is merely a snapshot of a far larger global coral-bleaching event that is ongoing as the planet’s oceans are being heated to levels never seen before. Scientists around the world are now wondering what, if anything, can be done to keep coral reefs from disintegrating into the sea.

Meanwhile, rising seas are posing new sets of problems on a regular basis.

In the Florida Everglades, seawater is beginning to make its way into swamplands. As it continues, this development will irreversibly change the Everglades — and life for millions of people living in South Florida who depend on a freshwater aquifer underneath them, which is now at risk.

Drinking water issues are set to become increasingly problematic for those in the Western US as well, but for entirely different ACD-driven reasons.

The entire Western snowpack of the Rockies, Sierra Nevada, and Cascade mountain ranges, upon which tens of millions of people rely for water, is shrinking, due to the snow level making its way higher and higher into the mountains as temperatures continue to warm. Along with water shortages, this will cause forests and grasslands in the lower elevations to dry out, which will increase the number, size and strength of future wildfires.

California’s snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is already at a 500-year low, and Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in that state, is already at an all-time low, a phenomenon which may well leave the seven states that depend on it for drinking water in a very bad position.

It’s not just the western US that is experiencing a dramatic quickening of the melting of its snow. The northernmost community in the US, Barrow, Alaska, posted its earliest spring snowmelt on record, according to federal scientists. Overall this year so far, Alaska’s average temperature is the highest on record, at 11.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the average temperature between the year 1025 and the year 2000.

By May, the Arctic sea ice had shrunk to its fourth-lowest level in half a century, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. This summer could well see the lowest sea-ice extent in recorded history.

Meanwhile, permafrost across Alaska’s north slope is continuing to warm at a pace that is now 70 years ahead of the pace predicted just a few years ago, according to recent research.

A stunning recent report revealed that 95 percent of all the glaciers atop the massive Tibetan plateau have receded, and are continuing to do so at rates never seen before.

As the atmosphere warms, it is able to hold increasing amounts of moisture, so intensifying downpours continue to be the norm. This was evidenced recently in West Virginia, where downpours in June left 26 people dead while setting records for the worst flooding in the state for more than a century.

Fire

It should come as little surprise that as planetary temperatures continue to increase at a record-breaking pace, wildfires are increasing right along with them.

Recent data shows that, since the 1980s, wildfires across the western US have been occurring with greater frequency, are far larger and are burning longer. Increases in all three areas of measurement have been happening every decade, and are continuing.

Already across the southwestern US, wildfires across five states are burning largely out of control due to a record-breaking heat wave and extremely dry conditions, forcing the hardest firefighting work to be carried out during the night.

In drought-stricken California, one of several wildfires has consumed more than 80 buildings and forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes. Fires in the state are threatening at least another 1,500 buildings, and one of the firefighters hasdescribed it as “a firefight of epic proportions.”

In Arizona, at least four people died and a staggering 30 million more were under heat advisory as temperatures reached 120 in some areas and wildfires raged across the region.

In a truly apocalyptic scene from May, fire fighters in Canada faced 1,100 degree flames while battling fires near the country’s oil sands.

Also in late May, wildfires across Russia had already burned an area the size of Vermont and Delaware combined, as the country announced it expected its worst wildfire season in over a century.

Air

In early June Greenland was hotter than New York City, in a prescient sign of the times.

Predictably, May was the warmest May on record for the planet, according to NASA. It beat the previous record, which was May 2014, by a long shot, and marked the 8th straight warmest month on record in NASA’s database. June is likely to follow suit.

Researchers recently revealed, in detail, how extreme weather-related disasters around the world are getting worse and costing more, largely due to the impacts of ACD. In the US alone in 2015, 10 extreme weather events cost more than $1 billion apiece and killed 155 people. Between 1980 and 2014, nearly 1 million people around the world were killed in tropical storms, floods, droughts, heat waves and other extreme weather events.

Denial and Reality

In yet another stunning example of ACD-denialism, the Republican Party is actively working to attempt to stop the Pentagon’s climate plan.

Ever since George W. Bush was president, the US Department of Defense has been warning that ACD posed a major threat to the national security of the US, and stating that preparation must begin promptly. Recently, however, House Republicans voted to block the Pentagon’s ACD preparation plan, then went on to pass an amendment that prohibited the defense department from spending money to put its preparation plans into effect. This was the second time the House GOP has actively voted to halt the Pentagon’s ACD policies.

On the living-in-reality front, the city of Portland, Oregon recently voted to ban all ACD-denying textbooks from all of its schools.

Recent reports from British and US research stations in the Antarctic showed that carbon dioxide levels on the ice continent exceeded 400 ppm for the first time in 4 million years. Researchers there reported that greenhouse gas emissions have “changed our planet to the very poles.”

Lastly for this month’s dispatch, a study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that there is essentially no landscape left anywhere on Earth that has not already been altered by humans. This means that the end of true nature has essentially been confirmed by scientists.

“‘Pristine’ landscapes simply do not exist and, in most cases, have not existed for millennia,” wrote the authors of the study.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

DAHR JAMAIL

Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, (Haymarket Books, 2007).

The Republican vision for the environment is not a pretty sight

http://grist.org/politics/the-republican-vision-for-the-environment-is-not-a-pretty-sight/

With their party’s national convention just days away, Republicans in the House of Representatives have given us a detailed vision of their environmental agenda. You may be shocked to hear that it would further pollute our air and water and worsen climate change. On Thursday, the House passed its budget bill for the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Interior on a mostly party-line vote.

The bill would spend $1 billion less on the agencies next year than President Obama requested. That comes on top of severe cuts over the last six years, since Republicans gained control of Congress. “EPA’s budget, not including inflation, is already 20 percent below what it was in 2010,” says Scott Slesinger, legislative director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “When the budget agreement was done last year for 2016 and they found more money for domestic [programs and defense], the only agency that did not get an increase was EPA.”

Environmentalists are even more upset, though, about the “policy riders” — that’s D.C.-ese for unrelated amendments attached to a spending bill. The most extreme ones would:

On the bright side, Republicans actually dropped some of the most absurd amendments — such as one that would have prevented EPA employees from flying for work.

Obama threatened to veto this bill before it even passed the full House, so there’s no risk of it actually becoming law. But it’s a handy guide to what Republicans want to do, even if they avoid saying so in prime time this coming week.

Sign of the Times: Washington Post Says Meat Is Horrible

“Meat is horrible,” a new article in The Washington Post, highlights the negative impacts of a Western diet.
Author Rachel Premack discusses the environmental, ecological, and health reasons Americans must give up or cut back on meat. Featuring multiple graphs, her compelling argument destroys common myths and seems to support a meat tax.
Premack writes:

By 2050, scientists forecast that emissions from agriculture alone will account for how much carbon dioxide the world can use to avoid catastrophic global warming. It already accounts for one-third of emissions today — and half of that comes from livestock.

She also notes that it takes “48 times as many liters of water to produce the same amount of beef as veggies” and we could save “a collective $730 billion in health care by reducing meat consumption.”
The debate over climate change and animal agriculture’s role in it is over. We know how raising animals for food damages our planet, and it’s time world leaders took action.
In the meantime, you can help protect the planet, your health, and animals by switching to a plant-based diet.
Click here to order your FREE Vegetarian Starter Guide.

Beaufort Sea polar bears are spending more time ashore. And it may be a wise move.

http://www.adn.com/arctic/2016/06/12/beaufort-sea-polar-bears-are-spending-more-time-ashore-and-it-may-be-a-wise-move/

by    June 12

 

A polar bear walks along the beach in Kaktovik, Alaska, at sunset on Sept. 7, 2012.

As Arctic sea ice dwindles, polar bears are spending more time on land. Now a long-term study tracks the dramatic change in behavior over the recent warming in the Beaufort Sea off northern Alaska and northwestern Canada.

Polar bears in the beleaguered southern Beaufort Sea population are now three times as likely to come ashore in summer and fall as they were in the mid-1980s, according to the study, by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and two universities. The bears that come ashore are also staying there much longer than bears did in the past, according to the study.

The big changes, the study found, have happened over the past decade and a half — corresponding to big reductions in summer and fall sea ice.

“That’s where we found a turning point in the data series. Prior to 2000, there really was no trend,” said Todd Atwood, a USGS wildlife biologist and the study’s lead author.

Since the late 1990s, the open-water season in the southern Beaufort Sea has expanded by 36 days on average, and polar bears have responded in kind, said the study, published online in the journal PLOS ONE. Since that time, the study said, the polar bears that swim to shore are spending 31 more days a year there.

Before then, the polar bears that went ashore in the late summer and fall tended to make brief exploratory forays, not the extended stays that are happening now, Atwood said.

The study uses data from movements of 228 adult female polar bears that, over the period from 1986 to 2014, were fitted with 389 radio collars. Only adult females can wear the tracking collars; males’ necks are too wide to allow collars to stay in place.

The study also uses data from aerial surveys conducted from 2010 to 2013. Those surveys tracked all polar bears — male and female, adult and subadult.

The newly open Beaufort Sea water, a trend continuing this year, is forcing polar bears in summer and fall to make a choice — swim north to the receding edge of the pack ice, or swim south to land, Atwood said.

The bears that come ashore still make up only a minority of the population, but they may be making the better choice, Atwood said. They seem to be making a beeline for piles of meat- and blubber-laden bones left after local Inupiat hunters butcher bowhead whales on the beaches, according to scientists’ data.

More: http://www.adn.com/arctic/2016/06/12/beaufort-sea-polar-bears-are-spending-more-time-ashore-and-it-may-be-a-wise-move/

Ice melt forces polar bears into paths of Alaska schoolchildren

 

Trevor Hughes5 hrs ago
 
File - In this Feb. 15, 2016 file photo, snow-covered mountains are seen behind the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska. The massive Alaska ice field that feeds Juneau's Mendenhall Glacier, a tourist attraction viewed by hundreds of thousands each year, could be gone by 2200 if climate warming trends continue, according to a new University of Alaska Fairbanks study.© (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File) File – In this Feb. 15, 2016 file photo, snow-covered mountains are seen behind the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska. The massive Alaska ice field that feeds Juneau’s…WALES, Alaska — Melting ice off the coast of far-west Alaska is forcing polar bears onto the land, dangerously close to villages where children often walk unaccompanied across the snow-swept tundra.In these isolated communities, fears of a fatal encounter between stressed predators and the towns’ most vulnerable members have forced residents into action: they now train for polar-bear patrols.”Our main concern is the kids,” says Clyde Oxereok, 57, who leads the patrol in Wales, the most western town in the mainland U.S.

The problem is a lack of ice. Each winter, the narrow strait between Russia and the United States melts faster.The ice that does form seems weaker, more susceptible to breaking up. While that’s opened up new areas for oil exploration and opportunities for shipping through the Northwest Passage, it’s also destroying the habitat of the polar bears who hunt seal from that ice.

 

“The weather has changed a lot, and it has made the animals change their behavior,” said Oxereok, a ninth-generation resident of Wales.

Bears on land are easily distracted by towns — and the easy food.

“When you’re out on the ice, everything is white, so anything that’s not, you’re going to check out,” says Elisabeth Kruger, Arctic program manager for the World Wildlife Fund.  “And anything that could be food, you’ll try it,” she says.

Walking back to the snowmobile that carried her out to the frozen edge of the Bering Strait, Kruger stops to point out fresh polar bear tracks. Sometime in the past few days, a large bear walked down the ice in a path that paralleled both the ice’s edge and the front of the town a mile away.

Village elders say while there are fewer polar bears living in the area, they’re near town more often.

That’s a terrifying thought. Polar bears can be 10-foot-tall, weighing in at more than 1,000 pounds and willing to tangle with whales and walruses.

Now, with Kruger’s help, residents in Wales have created the Kingikmiut Nanuuq Patrol to monitor polar bears near their homes. They’ve learned how to “haze” the bears away from town with shotgun-fired noisemakers and pepper spray.

There’s pretty much no one else to call on in Wales. The town lacks any routine law enforcement presence. An Alaska State Trooper flies in for a few hours every so often to check up on the residents.

Other tribal communities might simply kill and eat any polar bears that come into their village. Polar bears are protected by federal law, but Inupiat hunters like those in Wales are allowed to kill some polar bears to maintain their traditional

WALES, Alaska — Melting ice off the coast of far-west Alaska is forcing polar bears onto the land, dangerously close to villages where children often walk unaccompanied across the snow-swept tundra.
In these isolated communities, fears of a fatal encounter between stressed predators and the towns’ most vulnerable members have forced residents into action: they now train for polar-bear patrols.

“Our main concern is the kids,” says Clyde Oxereok, 57, who leads the patrol in Wales, the most western town in the mainland U.S.

The problem is a lack of ice. Each winter, the narrow strait between Russia and the United States melts faster.The ice that does form seems weaker, more susceptible to breaking up. While that’s opened up new areas for oil exploration and opportunities for shipping through the Northwest Passage, it’s also destroying the habitat of the polar bears who hunt seal from that ice.    
   

“The weather has changed a lot, and it has made the animals change their behavior,” said Oxereok, a ninth-generation resident of Wales.

Bears on land are easily distracted by towns — and the easy food.

“When you’re out on the ice, everything is white, so anything that’s not, you’re going to check out,” says Elisabeth Kruger, Arctic program manager for the World Wildlife Fund. “And anything that could be food, you’ll try it,” she says.

Walking back to the snowmobile that carried her out to the frozen edge of the Bering Strait, Kruger stops to point out fresh polar bear tracks. Sometime in the past few days, a large bear walked down the ice in a path that paralleled both the ice’s edge and the front of the town a mile away.

Village elders say while there are fewer polar bears living in the area, they’re near town more often.

That’s a terrifying thought. Polar bears can be 10-foot-tall, weighing in at more than 1,000 pounds and willing to tangle with whales and walruses.

Now, with Kruger’s help, residents in Wales have created the Kingikmiut Nanuuq Patrol to monitor polar bears near their homes. They’ve learned how to “haze” the bears away from town with shotgun-fired noisemakers and pepper spray.

There’s pretty much no one else to call on in Wales. The town lacks any routine law enforcement presence. An Alaska State Trooper flies in for a few hours every so often to check up on the residents.

Other tribal communities might simply kill and eat any polar bears that come into their village. Polar bears are protected by federal law, but Inupiat hunters like those in Wales are allowed to kill some polar bears to maintain their traditional way of life.

Sarah Palin does the Climate Hustle…

In case she hasn’t noticed, Alaska is seeing its share of climate changes

http://www.climatehustlemovie.com/

Scorching temperatures. Melting ice caps. Killer hurricanes and tornadoes. Disappearing polar bears. The end of civilization as we know it! Are emissions from our cars, factories, and farms causing catastrophic climate change? Is there a genuine scientific consensus? Or is man-made “global warming” an overheated environmental con job being used to push for increased government regulations and a new “Green” energy agenda?

CLIMATE HUSTLE will answer these questions, and many, many more. Produced in the one-of-a-kind entertaining and informative style that has made CFACT and Marc Morano’s award-winning ClimateDepot.com one of the world’s most sought after sources for reliable, hard-to-find facts about climate issues, this groundbreaking film will tear the cover off of global warming hype, and expose the myths and exaggerations of this multi-billion dollar issue.

CLIMATE HUSTLE will reveal the history of climate scares including global cooling; debunk outrageous claims about temperatures, extreme weather, and the so-called “consensus;” expose the increasingly shrill calls to “act immediately before it’s too late,” and in perhaps the film’s most important section, profile key scientists who used to believe in climate alarm but have since converted to skepticism.

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Want to Do Your Part to Tackle Climate Change? Go Vegan

by Jason Best is a regular contributor to TakePart who has worked for Gourmet and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Can we eat our way out of climate change? That question has come to the forefront again with the Monday release of yet more research connecting global dietary patterns and global warming. While no one’s arguing diet alone can stop the world from warming, there’s now more evidence that changing the way we eat could have a big impact.

Building on similar groundbreaking studies published during the past couple years, scientists at Oxford University tackled a big question: If the whole world adopted a healthier diet, could that significantly combat global warming.

Even though the agricultural sector accounts for a substantial share of our collective greenhouse gas emissions—almost 15 percent worldwide—it’s long been more or less ignored when it comes to international climate negotiations, including the landmark climate conference in Paris at the end of last year. Yet with the international community finally starting to take serious action to cut emissions from power plants and transportation, the total share of emissions from agriculture is only expected to rise—so much so that experts say it could essentially cancel out the cuts in other sectors.

RELATED:  Are We All Going to Be Vegetarians by 2050?

The biggest culprit? Livestock, particularly cattle. As past research has shown, raising beef generates between nine and 27 times the amount of global warming pollution that producing an equivalent number of calories growing things like beans, nuts, and vegetables does. As just about everyone knows by now, red meat consumption has been linked to a host of health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

In the Oxford study, published in the journal PNAS, researchers peered into the future to 2050 and asked what might happen in four different diet scenarios. In the first, the world keeps eating the way we are now, with a predicted rise in meat consumption. The other three put everyone on a diet, so to speak, each with an increasingly restricted amount of meat, all the way to global veganism.

The upshot? The less meat the world eats, the better it is for our collective health, the health of our climate, and the global economy.

A worldwide shift to a vegetarian diet, for example, was shown to save 7.3 million lives and cut global warming pollution from the agricultural sector by 63 percent. Going vegan saved an estimated 8.1 million lives, cut climate pollution by 70 percent, and saved a whopping $31 trillion between now and 2050.

The study’s authors openly admit that’s not going to happen, but it’s important that the world’s growing penchant for American-style bacon burgers and meat lovers’ pizza become part of the climate debate.

“We do not expect everybody to become vegan,” the study’s lead author, Marco Springmann of the Oxford Martin Program on the Future of Food, told Reuters. “But climate change impacts of the food system will be hard to tackle and likely require more than just technological changes. Adopting healthier and more environmentally sustainable diets can be a large step in the right direction.”

AK Murre Die-Off

Dan Joling | Associated Press

Dan Joling / Associated Press

Lake Iliamna in Southwest Alaska is North America’s eighth-largest lake, but nobody would mistake it for the Pacific Ocean. Not even a seabird.

So when thousands of common murres were found dead at the lake — part of a massive die-off of a species whose preferred winter habitat is at sea — seabird experts were puzzled.

“We’ve talked about unprecedented things about this die off. That’s another one,” said John Piatt, research wildlife biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey.

Murres occasionally land in fresh water, Piatt said.

“You figure it’s a misguided individual. To have 6,000, 8,000 birds in the lake is pretty mind-blowing, really,” he said. “I’ve never heard of any such a thing anywhere in the world.”

Abnormal numbers of dead common murres, all apparently starved, began washing ashore on Alaska beaches in March 2015. After late-December storms, 8,000 were found at the Prince William Sound community of Whittier. The confirmed carcass count is now up to 36,000, but most don’t wash ashore. Also, Alaska has more coastline than the rest of the United States put together and relatively few beaches have been surveyed.

Common murres catch finger-length fish to feed their young in summer and can forage on krill. Less is known about what they eat in winter. Because of a high metabolism rate, they can use up fat reserves and drop to a critical threshold for starvation in three days of not eating.

Researchers trying to find out the cause of the deaths would not have thought to look on a freshwater lake but were alerted to the Iliamna carcasses by Randy Alvarez, a member of the Lake and Peninsula Borough Assembly.

A commercial fisherman, Alvarez has lived in Igiugig on the west end of 77-mile long Lake Iliamna since 1983.

He had seen a few dead murres on the beach, but on a mid-February flight with the borough mayor and manager, they saw thousands.

“We came up with a guess of 6,000 to 8000 birds in about 12 miles,” Alvarez said.

Nobody he knows remembers common murres at the lake. Alvarez speculates the birds could not find food in the Pacific and flew to the lake to eat salmon smolt. Lake Iliamna has not frozen the last two winters, which itself is strange.

His friends and relatives in Naknek, a Bristol Bay port, in normal winters catch smelt, another small, silvery fish.

“This was the worst anybody had ever seen it for smelt,” he said, and he wonders if it’s connected to the North Pacific’s third-straight year of above-normal temperatures. If seabirds can’t find enough to eat, he worries that salmon won’t either.

“I think something is not right,” he said.

Scientists in multiple federal agencies are trying to determine if the murre deaths are connected to lack of food, parasites, disease, weather or something else, but they keep being pitched curves, like birds showing up in surprising places.

“This is the thing about this die-off,” Piatt said. “We don’t even know what we don’t know.”

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