mdsolar writes: We’re under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII. BY BILL MCKIBBEN
In the North this summer, a devastating offensive is underway. Enemy forces have seized huge swaths of territory; with each passing week, another 22,000 square miles of Arctic ice disappears. Experts dispatched to the battlefield in July saw little cause for hope, especially since this siege is one of the oldest fronts in the war. “In 30 years, the area has shrunk approximately by half,” said a scientist who examined the onslaught. “There doesn’t seem anything able to stop this.”
In the Pacific this spring, the enemy staged a daring breakout across thousands of miles of ocean, waging a full-scale assault on the region’s coral reefs. In a matter of months, long stretches of formations like the Great Barrier Reef—dating back past the start of human civilization and visible from space—were reduced to white bone-yards.
Day after day, week after week, saboteurs behind our lines are unleashing a series of brilliant and overwhelming attacks. In the past few months alone, our foes have used a firestorm to force the total evacuation of a city of 90,000 in Canada, drought to ravage crops to the point where southern Africans are literally eating their seed corn, and floods to threaten the priceless repository of art in the Louvre. The enemy is even deploying biological weapons to spread psychological terror: The Zika virus, loaded like a bomb into a growing army of mosquitoes, has shrunk the heads of newborn babies across an entire continent; panicked health ministers in seven countries are now urging women not to get pregnant. And as in all conflicts, millions of refugees are fleeing the horrors of war, their numbers swelling daily as they’re forced to abandon their homes to escape famine and desolation and disease.
mdsolar writes: A 25-year-long study provides the first quantitative measurement of in situ calcium-magnesium silicate mineral dissolution by ants, termites, tree roots, and bare ground. This study reveals that ants are one of the most powerful biological agents of mineral decay yet observed. It may be that an understanding of the geobiology of ant-mineral interactions might offer a line of research on how to "geoengineer" accelerated carbon dioxide consumption by Ca-Mg silicates.
mdsolar writes: Quad County Corn Processors announced today that it will host a grand opening event for its new "bolt on" bio-refinery that is turning corn kernel fibers into cellulosic ethanol. Quad County is the site of Iowa's first cellulosic ethanol gallons and the world's first corn kernel fiber cellulosic ethanol, a process that was invented by Plant Engineer Travis Brotherson and patented by Quad County Corn Processors.
Quad County's Adding Cellulosic Ethanol (ACE) project grand opening ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, September 9, at the plant.
"After four years of research and development, financing hurdles, waiting on EPA rule clarifications and construction, we are excited to see the ACE project working and are proud to be producing the world's first corn kernel fiber cellulosic ethanol gallons and Iowa's first cellulosic ethanol gallons," said Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors. "This state-of-the-art technology will create two million gallons of cellulosic ethanol out of the corn kernel cellulose, a feed stock that we already have on site," he continued. "In addition to creating four new full-time jobs in Galva, this process will increase our ethanol yields by 6 percent, increase our corn oil removal by three times and create a feed product that is much higher in protein and lower in fiber. In essence, we will create more value out of the corn bushels we already process which increases our efficiency so we can continue to be a leader in the ethanol industry."
mdsolar writes: Flooding is increasing in frequency along much of the U.S. coast, and the rate of increase is accelerating along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts, a team of federal government scientists found in a study released Monday.
The study examined how often 45 tide gauges along the country’s shore exceeded National Weather Service flood thresholds across several decades. The researchers found that the frequency of flooding increased at 41 locations. Moreover, they found that the rate of increase was accelerating at 28 of those locations. The highest rates of increase were concentrated along the mid-Atlantic coast.
mdsolar writes: "A new study by Screen and Simmonds demonstrates the statistical connection between high-amplitude planetary waves in the atmosphere and extreme weather events on the ground." See also: http://www.scientificamerican....
mdsolar writes: "Here’s what your future will look like if we are to have a shot at preventing devastating climate change.
Within about 15 years every new car sold in the United States will be electric. In fact, by midcentury more than half of the American economy will run on electricity. Up to 60 percent of power might come from nuclear sources. And coal’s footprint will shrink drastically, perhaps even disappear from the power supply.
This course, created by a team of energy experts, was unveiled on Tuesday in a report for the United Nations that explores the technological paths available for the world’s 15 main economies to both maintain reasonable rates of growth and cut their carbon emissions enough by 2050 to prevent climatic havoc.
It offers a sobering conclusion. We might be able to pull it off. But it will take an overhaul of the way we use energy, and a huge investment in the development and deployment of new energy technologies. Significantly, it calls for an entirely different approach to international diplomacy on the issue of how to combat climate change."
mdsolar writes: Paul Krugman, who won a Nobel Prize for understanding world trade, has proposed climate tariffs as a way to get China to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Today he writes:
"China is enormously dependent on access to advanced-country markets — a lot of the coal it burns can be attributed, directly or indirectly, to its export business — and it knows that it would put this access at risk if it refused to play any role in protecting the planet.
More specifically, if and when wealthy countries take serious action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, they’re very likely to start imposing “carbon tariffs” on goods imported from countries that aren’t taking similar action. Such tariffs should be legal under existing trade rules — the World Trade Organization would probably declare that carbon limits are effectively a tax on consumers, which can be levied on imports as well as domestic production. Furthermore, trade rules give special consideration to environmental protection. So China would find itself with strong incentives to start limiting emissions."
In my opinion: Article XX of GATT does indeed allow us to unilaterally impose tariffs on China. I'd suggest that there should be a ramped approach. First, we should acknowledge that dangerous climate change has come early and we are already suffering damages. The growth in Federal crop and flood insurance payouts is owing to the effects of climate change. Instead of increasing premiums, we should use climate damage tariffs to cover this increase. That amounts to a pretty small tariff, but it firmly establishes the liability connection. Non-Annex I countries (as listed in the Kyoto Protocol) are becoming the main contributors to cumulative emissions just as climate change has turned dangerous, that makes their emissions the cause of dangerous climate change. An accident of timing? Yes. But deliberately increasing emissions, as China is doing, eliminates safe harbor as well.
This small tariff could be used as a stepping stone to larger tariffs imposed cooperatively with other Annex I countries if China does not turn around. The larger tariffs could be used to assist with adaptation costs in countries with low per capita emissions where vulnerability to dangerous climate change is high. Lack of a clear funding mechanism for this sort of thing has been a sticking point at climate negotiations. This would essentially get funds from those who are causing the damage.
mdsolar writes: ""The Fukushima disaster caused by far the largest discharge of radioactivity into the ocean ever seen. A new model presented by scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts estimates that 16.2 petabecquerels (1015 becquerels) of radioactive caesium leaked from the plant — roughly the same amount that went into the atmosphere.
Most of that radioactivity dispersed across the Pacific Ocean, where it became diluted to extremely low levels. But in the region of the ocean near the plant, levels of caesium-137 have remained fixed at around 1,000 becquerels, a relatively high level compared to the natural background. Similarly, levels of radioactive caesium in bottom-dwelling fish remain pretty much unchanged more than 18 months after the accident."
mdsolar writes: "Arctic sea ice has hit a record low extent for the period of satellite observation. Further, this record has been set in August when the minimum annual sea ice extent (and the prior record) has always come in September. Further still, the ice is still retreating as rapidly as it was in June and July when normally the decrease of sea ice extent slows in August. It is thus possible the the final minimum sea ice extend for 2012 will be seen in October rather than September as has always occurred in the past. More than one monitoring effort agree on the existence of a new record. http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm"
mdsolar writes: "James Hansen writes in the NYT: "GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”
If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.""
mdsolar writes: ""Scientists may hesitate to link some of the weather extremes of recent years to global warming — but the public, it seems, is already there.
A poll due for release on Wednesday shows that a large majority of Americans believe that this year’s unusually warm winter, last year’s blistering summer and some other weather disasters were probably made worse by global warming. And by a 2-to-1 margin, the public says the weather has been getting worse, rather than better, in recent years.
The survey, the most detailed to date on the public response to weather extremes, comes atop other polling showing a recent uptick in concern about climate change. Read together, the polls suggest that direct experience of erratic weather may be convincing some people that the problem is no longer just a vague and distant threat."
mdsolar writes: ""Kelp off California was contaminated with short-lived radioisotopes a month after Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant accident, a sign that the spilled radiation reached the state's coastline, according to a new scientific study.
Scientists from CSU Long Beach tested giant kelp collected off Orange County, Santa Cruz and other locations after the March 2011 accident and detected radioactive iodine, which was released from the damaged nuclear reactor.
The largest concentration was about 250 times higher than levels found in kelp before the accident.
"Basically, we saw it in all the California kelp blades we sampled," said Steven Manley, a CSU Long Beach biology professor who specializes in kelp.""
mdsolar writes: ""Rising levels of carbon dioxide really did bring about the end of the most recent ice age, say researchers. By compiling a global climate record, a team has shown that regions in which concentrations of greenhouse gases increased after the warming were exceptions to the big picture.
There are many ideas about what caused the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago, but a lack of data has hindered testing of hypotheses. It has been known that changes in temperature and CO2 levels were closely correlated during this time, but no one has been able to prove that CO2 caused the warming.
Ice samples from Antarctica even suggested that temperatures rose a few centuries before CO2 levels, making it impossible for the gas to have been responsible. This provided ammunition for climate sceptics.
But, by analysing data gathered from 80 locations around the world, Jeremy Shakun, a palaeoclimatologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and his colleagues have shown that at the global level, warming followed CO2 increases. The team used seven different records of past temperature, including ice cores, ancient pollen and the chemical composition of fossilized microscopic life.""
mdsolar writes: ""The Journal Environmental Science and Technology reports in a new study that the Fukushima radiation plume contacted North America at California “with greatest exposure in central and southern California”, and that Southern California had 2,500 Bq/kg of iodine-131 in seaweed over 500% higher than other tests in the U.S. and Canada:
Projected paths of the radioactive atmospheric plume emanating from the Fukushima reactors, best described as airborne particles or aerosols for 131I, 137Cs, and 35S, and subsequent atmospheric monitoring showed it coming in contact with the North American continent at California, with greatest exposure in central and southern California. Government monitoring sites in Anaheim (southern California) recorded peak airborne concentrations of 131I at 1.9 pCi m3
mdsolar writes: ""Climate change is amplifying risks from drought, floods, storms and rising seas, threatening all countries but small island states, poor nations and arid regions in particular, UN experts warned on Tuesday.
In its first-ever report on the question, the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said man-made global-warming gases are already affecting some types of extreme weather.
And, despite gaps in knowledge, weather events once deemed a freak are likely to become more frequent or more vicious, inflicting a potentially high toll in deaths, economic damage and misery, it said.""