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

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

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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.

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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

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[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?]

Monkey populations will suffer as climate change alters their food

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/monkey-populations-will-suffer-as-climate-change-alters-their-food-20141002-10mfas.html

October 2, 2014   Science Editor

If you consider the consequences of global warming, it’s always the major effects that receive the most attention – glaciers melting, sea levels rising, more frequent and more intense bushfires, floods and cyclones.

But climate change is affecting plants and animals in ways that are far less spectacular and harder to detect. And yet these subtle changes have the same potential to decimate populations.

This month scientists will publish research that links a decline in the nutritional quality of leaves eaten by colobus monkeys in Uganda to changes in climate over the past 30 years.

Specifically, the team found that in a range of plant species in Kibale National Park the amount of fibre had increased by up to 15 per cent, while the proportion of protein had decreased by about 6 per cent.

David Raubenheimer, a professor of nutritional ecology and co-author of the study, said this shift was significant because many variety of monkey selected their food based on its nutritional quality, in particular the amount of protein to fibre in plant leaves.

“We know if we go out and measure leaves and find patches that have a lot of protein to fibre, that’s good territory for monkeys,” said Professor Raubenheimer, from the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney.

But over the past three decades the climate in Kibale National Park has become hotter and wetter, which in turn has altered the composition of plant foliage.

The team, led by primatologist Jessica Rothman from the City University of New York, found nine out of 10 species had increased their fibre concentration and reduced in protein. Only one plant showed the opposite trend, where its protein level increased.

“There are a number of experiments on plants showing that an increase in temperature and moisture has an impact on the fibre concentration,” Professor Raubenheimer said.

A rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has also been linked to a drop in the amount of protein in leaves.

While colobus populations remain stable, the study, published in the Ecology journal, propose that this shift in plant nutrients will have a significant effect on future populations.

Professor Raubenheimer said monkeys cannot digest a lot of fibre. So as fibre increases in their diet, he predicts their other nutrients needs, from protein and sugars, will not be met.

Females deprived of a balanced diet are less fertile and give birth to smaller young.

“The population birth rate is slowed, so you get a decline in population,” he said.

Because humans had destroyed so much plant and animal habitat for urbanisation and agriculture, many species were confined to isolated pockets of bushland or nature reserves.

“If climate change is causing these [reserves] to change biologically, then there is nowhere for them to go,” Professor Raubenheimer said.

“They can’t migrate to follow climates that are better suited to them like they could have a few hundred years ago.”

Warm North Pacific Waters Threaten Native Fish, Usher in Unusual Species

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
October 3, 2014

Unusually high water temperatures throughout the North Pacific Ocean have brought concerns from researchers about how it could affect native species of fish as well as sightings of uncommon species.

The three areas of the North Pacific with the most notable warming trend include the Gulf of Alaska, the Bering Sea and an area off the coast of Southern California down to Baja California, Mexico, with temperatures as high as 5 degrees above average.

These sea surface temperature anomalies have remained this way for more than a year, one of the longest stretches on record, according to researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This is a sea surface temperature anomaly map in the North Pacific Ocean. The darker the red, the farther above average the sea surface temperature, according to NOAA. (Photo/NOAA)

The warmer water has prompted questions about how it will impact the marine food web, said Laurie Weitkamp, a research fisheries biologist with NOAA’s Northwest Fishery Science Center in Newport, Oregon.

A big concern for native species of fish, such as salmon, is that the primary food items they eat may no longer be available, Weitkamp said.

Potentially adding further stress to the situation, warm water also increases the metabolic rate of the fish so they have to eat more in warmer water, but there may not be enough to eat because the conditions are not suitable for their food items, Weitkamp said.

RELATED:
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Northwest Regional Weather Radar

Nate Mantua, leader of the landscape ecology team at the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, attributes these conditions in the Gulf of Alaska to the same ridge of high pressure that’s believed to have contributed to California’s extreme drought. Storms and winds that commonly cool and stir the sea surface have been quelled by the ridge.

“If the warming persists for the whole summer and fall, some of the critters that do well in a colder, more productive ocean could suffer reduced growth, poor reproductive success and population declines,” Mantua said in a NOAA Fisheries article.

“This has happened to marine mammals, sea birds and Pacific salmon in the past. At the same time, species that do well in warmer conditions may experience increased growth, survival and abundance,” Mantua said.

Another effect likely brought about by the noticeably warmer waters is observations of different species of fish that are not known for frequenting this part of the ocean.

Earlier this past summer, a research vessel found a thresher shark in the Gulf of Alaska, which was the northernmost documented catch of the species, according to Michael Milstein, a spokesman for NOAA Fisheries.

“Thresher sharks are know for preferring warm waters,” Milstein said.

More: http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/warm-north-pacific-waters-threaten-fish/34699318

What do Wolves, Hunting Accidents and Trophy Hunter Kendall Jones have in Common?

Answer: Well, nothing really, yet. They just happen to be three of the more popularHNTSTK_1_2__66133_1314490481_1280_1280 keywords, and I hoped that if I used them in a title I’d tempt more of you to read some of the recent posts that have been overlooked according to this blog’s stats.

Why, for instance, did an article about Kendall Jones’ trophy hunting pictures receive over 22,000 reads here, whereas posts about climate change, elk or mute swans have only been looked at by a few dozen?

I’m trying to figure out what makes people tick.

Maybe there just aren’t enough hunting accidents involving trophy hunters to keep people reading, so here’s one that someone made up:

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Obama: Western wildfires have a lot “to do with climate change”

james1

While I’m generally no hardline presidential apologist, I do have to praise Obama for acknowledging that the record-setting Carlton Complex wildfire, along with other ongoing western blazes, can be attributed to climate change.

“A lot of it has to do with drought, a lot of it has to do with changing precipitation patterns, and a lot of that has to do with climate change,” the USA Today quoted the president as saying during a recent visit to Seattle.

Unfortunately since then, the media has been silent about the president’s statement, omitting it in any subsequent article about President Barack Obama signing a federal emergency declaration for the areas affected by the wildfires. The declaration authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate disaster relief and help state and local agencies with equipment and resources.

That’s good news for this particular weather event, but it hardly trumps the fact that the planet is sure to experience this scale of catastrophic wildfire again and again in the future.

Perhaps the reason we’re not hearing about the climate change connection has to with the results of a recent survey revealing that Americans are more skeptical of climate change than others polled across the globe.

According to an ABC News article, when asked if they agreed with the statement, “The climate change we are currently seeing is largely the result of human activity,” just 54 percent of Americans surveyed said yes. Although this number indicates a majority, the United States still ranked last among 20 countries in the poll.

Meanwhile, China topped the list, with 93 percent of its citizens agreeing that human activity is causing climate change. Large majorities also agreed in France (80 percent), Brazil (79 percent), Germany (72 percent) and other countries.

Similarly, 91 percent of those from China agreed with the statement, “We are heading for environmental disaster unless we change our habits quickly.” Only 57 percent of Americans thought so — again, last among 20 nations surveyed.