Something to keep in mind…
and there is a genuine paradox here,
for that richness exists
despite an almost total absence
of the nutrient iron.
The presence of sea ice somehow compensates for this,
for the semifrozen edge between salt water
and the floating ice
promotes remarkable growth of the microscopic plankton
that is the base of the food chain.
Despite the months of winter darkness,
the plankton thrives under the ice,
allowing the krill that feed on them
to complete their seven-year life cycle.
And wherever there is krill in abundance,
there are likely to be penguins, seals and great whales.
The Weather Makers
An IPCC Special Report on climate change,
desertification, land degradation,
sustainable land management, food security,
and greenhouse gas fluxes in
The UN’s official scientific advisory panel’s verdict on land and climate is out…
Climate Change and a New Agricultural System
Global Research 8-11-19
Individual consumer choices in the global north, about what to eat, won’t be enough to get rid of a bad system, nor will they be enough to build a just transition to a better one. While much of the media coverage of the new IPCC report on land and agriculture focus on diet, the report needs to be understood as saying this: we (in protein-rich countries, at the very least), must replace our current large-scale industrialized systems of agriculture and food production with those based on agroecological and regenerative practices. Food security and agricultural resilience, in the face of a changing climate, depends on this.
Yes, Scientists Say we Need to Plant Trees and Eat Less Meat — But Not as a Replacement for Cutting Fossil Fuels
Perhaps the most headline-grabbing element of the report was how it dealt with the tricky issue of products derived from animals. Meat and dairy are a major reason emissions are so high from agriculture, due to the enormous amounts of methane gas produced by livestock as well as the deforestation from expanding pastures and crops to feed them. But the IPCC isn’t allowed to offer policy advice — only set out the facts, which need to be signed off by governments. This goes some way to explaining why it skirts around the issue somewhat in its report, only saying diets of plant-based food present “major opportunities” for cutting emissions. But commentators were happy to read between the lines. “It’s a call for action for governments to hold agribusiness accountable for its mass production, mass waste model,” said Shefali Sharma, from sustainable agriculture non-profit IATP. BBC coverage of the report, meanwhile, emphasised its message that “switching to a plant-based diet can help fight climate change”.How exactly this is going to translate to real world policies is anybody’s guess.
Climate change reports warn of a world on the brink
The UN report, “Climate Change and Land,” demonstrates that 821 million human beings already suffering from hunger face starvation as the land on which they depend for sustenance loses its ability to support agricultural infrastructure. These men, women and children are part of a broader 3.2 billion people who are living in areas that will be eroded, flooded, turned into deserts or destroyed by wildfires, hurricanes or cyclones in the coming decades. The World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct project reports that 17 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, comprising a quarter of the world’s population, are in peril of using up their available fresh water. This “Day Zero” scenario would cause droughts that are four times as costly as floods—destroying crops, causing power outages, increasing the risk of preventable diseases and potentially causing mass migrations of hundreds of millions of people, stressing water supplies in even more parts of the globe.
Restoring soil can help address climate change
The Conversation 8-13-19
But what if it was possible to reverse course, regenerate soil organic matter and reduce farmers’ need for diesel fuel and chemical fertilizers made with fossil fuels? This would make it feasible to stash more carbon in the soil and reduce the amount that’s sent skyward in the process of growing food. I saw the potential for regenerative agriculture to restore soil organic matter in both developed and developing countries when I researched “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” my book about how regenerative farming practices allow farmers to reduce their use of costly fertilizers and pesticides. All of the farmers I interviewed shared three things in common. They had switched from plowing to no-till methods that minimized soil disturbance, planted cover crops, and grew a diverse mix of cash and cover crops. Some had even adopted regenerative grazing practices that put livestock to work rebuilding carbon-rich soil.
Here is the IPCC Report referenced in the above articles…
Climate Change and Land
An IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems
HOT AIR NEWS ROUNDUP
Indians plant 220 million trees in single day
More than a million Indians have planted 220 million trees in a single day in a government campaign to tackle climate change and improve the environment in the country’s most populated state. Forest official Bivhas Ranjan says students, lawmakers, officials and others planted dozens of species of saplings Friday along roads, rail tracks and in forest lands in northern Uttar Pradesh state. The target of 220 million saplings was achieved by 5 p.m.
No-deal Brexit would be a disaster for the climate
Climate Home News 8-9-19
The loss of the UK’s influence at the table will be a major blow to European climate solidarity. It will undercut the EU’s future climate ambition by tilting the balance of power towards less ambitious member states – the likes of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This will damage the ability of the EU to project global leadership. … In a report published two years ago, the Institute of International and European Affairs speculated that in a no-deal Brexit scenario, the UK could seek to gain competitive advantage through the rollback of social protections, health, safety, and environmental regulations. These include some 650 pieces of EU legislation protecting the environment in the areas such as climate, water, air quality, biodiversity and waste.
Jet stream study confirms aircraft turbulence risk from climate change
PHYS ORG 8-8-19
This means that airline passengers will have a much bumpier ride in future, if climate change continues unabated. Vertical wind shear—the increase in wind speed at higher altitudes—causes invisible clear-air turbulence, which can be severe enough to throw airplane passengers out of their seats. It terrifies nervous fliers and injures hundreds of passengers and flight attendants every year.
The State of Sea Level Rise (2019) (32 min)
Greenhouse Gases Reach Unprecedented Level
It wasn’t just the amount of carbon dioxide that set record levels. Other greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide also continued a rapid rise into the atmosphere. Together, the global warming power of greenhouse gases was 43 percent stronger than in 1990, according to the State of the Climate report released Monday by the American Meteorological Society, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information. Greenhouse gases are not the only thing rising. Global sea levels also reached their highest levels on record for the seventh consecutive year, as ABC News reported. The report says that ocean levels are rising about an inch per decade, but that number may need to be revised if ice melt at the poles accelerates.
It’s raining plastic: microscopic fibers fall from the sky in Rocky Mountains
The Guardian 8-12-19
The discovery, published in a recent study (pdf) titled “It is raining plastic”, raises new questions about the amount of plastic waste permeating the air, water, and soil virtually everywhere on Earth. “I think the most important result that we can share with the American public is that there’s more plastic out there than meets the eye,” said Wetherbee. “It’s in the rain, it’s in the snow. It’s a part of our environment now.” Rainwater samples collected across Colorado and analyzed under a microscope contained a rainbow of plastic fibers, as well as beads and shards.
Energy development vs. endangered species: winner takes all
The Narwhal 8-12-19
In June 2019, Canada’s federal government approved the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion to carry oil from Alberta to the coast of British Columbia. It did so despite an environmental assessment that found marine vessel traffic associated with the additional pipeline capacity will further dim the already dire prospects for the endangered southern resident killer whales. This was not much of a surprise, really, since the federal government had already approved the pipeline expansion in November 2016. That approval, however, was quashed by the Federal Court of Appeal in August 2018, in part because the original environmental assessment had failed to consider the pipeline’s adverse impacts to the marine environment. At a policy level, Canada marked its commitment to protect species at risk in 1992 when it ratified the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
Supersizing Climate Change: U.N. Says Meat Production Destroys Land & Diminishes Key Water Sources
Democracy Now 8-12-19
The United Nations’ top panel of climate scientists warns that humans are consuming land and water resources at an unprecedented rate, with the destructive effects of the climate crisis increasingly threatening the planet’s biodiversity and the food security of hundreds of millions of people.
Diet change needed to save vast areas of tropics
Science Daily 8-12-19
One quarter of the world’s tropical land could disappear by the end of the century unless meat and dairy consumption falls, researchers have warned. If the global demand for animal products continues to grow, large swathes of natural land will vanish potentially leading to widespread loss of species and their habitats. Some nine per cent of natural land — 95 per cent of which is in the tropics — could go within 80 years unless global dietary habits change, the scientists say. … They found that rapid increases in meat and milk production result in sharp rises in land clearing in tropical regions that harbour high levels of biodiversity.
Earth’s Food Supply Is Under Threat. These Fixes Would Go a Long Way.
The report, published in summary form Thursday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, magnifies a dual challenge: how to nourish a growing global population, but do so in a way that minimizes agriculture’s carbon footprint. However, research suggests that it is entirely possible to grow food that’s better for us and grow it in ways that are better for the land. Better land management techniques include limiting the use of fertilizers that contribute to emissions and planting crops that add carbon to the soil. Answering that challenge requires a huge overhaul of how we use land and water for food production, experts say. And it also requires a hard look at who gets to eat what. … However, research suggests that it is entirely possible to grow food that’s better for us and grow it in ways that are better for the land. Better land management techniques include limiting the use of fertilizers that contribute to emissions and planting crops that add carbon to the soil. … Currently more than a quarter of the food produced rots in the fields, gets thrown away because it’s misshapen or bruised, or spoils in overstuffed refrigerators. Taken together, the amount of food that is wasted and unused accounts for close to a 10th of global emissions.
Satellite study reveals that area emits one billion tonnes of carbon
PHYS ORG 8-13-19
A vast region of Africa affected by drought and changing land use emits as much carbon dioxide each year as 200 million cars, research suggests. Observations from two satellites have consistently shown emissions over northern tropical Africa of between 1 and 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon each year. The data suggest stored carbon has been released from degraded soils—those subject to prolonged or repeated drought or land use change—in western Ethiopia and western tropical Africa, … The study is the result of a decade of work, involving hundreds of dedicated engineers and scientists, and billions of dollars of investment by space agencies.
LEGISLATION, ELECTIONS & POLICY
To Stave Off ‘Climate Disaster,’ 29 States and Major Cities Sue Trump EPA Over ‘Dirty Power’ Rule
Common Dreams 8-13-19
A coalition of 22 states and seven major American cities sued the Trump administration Tuesday over its repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and a replacement that critics have dubbed the “Dirty Power” rule. The lawsuit (pdf), filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, targets the administration’s so-called Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which eases restrictions on coal plants imposed by the Obama plan, the first national policy to limit power plants’ carbon emissions. Shortly before Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, signed the ACE rule in June, the administration attempted to bolster the case for its plan by, as Common Dreams reported, “effectively rescinding the EPA’s own estimate that it could lead to 1,400 premature deaths per year.”
Indigenous and Green Groups Fighting Against Pipeline Urge 2020 Democrats to Take ‘NoKXL Pledge’
Common Dreams 8-13-19
Indigenous, environmental, and landowner groups fighting to block the Keystone XL pipeline sent a letter Tuesday to the two dozen 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidates, urging them to take the “NoKXL pledge” and vow—if elected—to revoke the Trump administration’s permit for the tar sands oil project. “There is no middle ground when it comes to protecting the land, water, and climate,” Bold Nebraska founder Jane Kleeb said in a statement. “You either stand with family farmers, ranchers, Tribal Nations, and environmentalists—or you stand with fossil fuel corporations who are abusing eminent domain, and trampling on the treaty rights of Tribal
Rampant forest fires are causing polluting smog to travel to neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore, sending air quality plummeting in Southeast Asia…
Indonesian government under pressure to stamp out toxic haze
Climate Home News 8-6-19
Indonesian authorities are deploying thousands of extra personnel to prevent a repeat of the 2015 fires, which were the worst for two decades and choked the region in haze for weeks. … Officials from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei discussed the pollution issue at an annual meeting in Brunei which wrapped up Tuesday, Malaysia’s environment ministry said.
Glasgow named to host 2020 UN climate summit
Climate Home News 8-9-19
The UK government has announced the Scottish city of Glasgow would be the stage for next year’s UN climate talks, in a bid to unify the country around climate action. The UK is the overwhelming favourite to host the meeting, known as Cop26, after striking a deal with its main rival Italy. Under a joint proposal, the UK would hold the main summit and Italy would host a preparatory meeting known as the pre-Cop, as well as a youth event.
Australia seeks to water down climate declaration at Pacific summit
Climate Home News 8-13-19
Australia is attempting to water down a declaration on the urgent need for climate action at a meeting of Pacific leaders on the low-lying island of Tuvalu. An annotated draft of the Pacific Islands Forum declaration, seen by Climate Home News, showed Australia trying to suppress references to the climate “crisis”, 1.5C, carbon neutrality, a ban on new coal plants and phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. Climate change is high on the agenda at the forum this week, putting small island nations vulnerable to sea level rise on a collision course with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison’s pro-coal government. Morrison is due to arrive in the Tuvalu capital Funafuti on Wednesday. Ahead of the leaders’ summit, governments were invited to comment on a draft declaration, to form the basis for a political statement to be negotiated over the next couple of days.
Bolsonaro shrugs off German aid cuts, as deforestation surges
Climate Home News 8-12-19
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday said his country has “no need” for German aid aimed at helping protect the Amazonian forest, after Berlin said it would suspend some payments because of surging deforestation. Brazil is home to more than 60 percent of the Amazon forest, which is being cleared at an increasing rate to create more cropland. The Amazon is vital to the exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – a check on global warming – but concern about the forest has grown since Bolsonaro took office in January.
‘This Is Crazy’: Scientists Alarmed as Lightning Near North Pole Seen as Latest Sign of Climate Breakdown
Common Dreams 8-15-19
The NWS saw it necessary to release a public statement on the lightning event, which usually doesn’t take place at the North Pole due to icy temperatures. “This is one of the furthest north lightning strikes in Alaska forecaster memory,” the NWS said. … As the Washington Post reported, the lighting denotes “that the atmosphere near the pole was unstable enough, with sufficient warm and moist air in the lower atmosphere, to give rise to thunderstorms.” “The probability of this kind of event occurring would increase as the sea ice extent retreats farther and farther north in the summertime,” Alex Young, a meteorologist with the NWS in Fairbanks, told Wired.
See how Arctic permafrost thaws and the damage it does
National Geographic 8-19
The unexpectedly rapid collapse of ice-rich permafrost in the Arctic could pump billions of additional tons of methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year—a threat that has yet to be fully accounted for in climate models. Scientists are discovering destabilized landscapes where permafrost that once thawed a few inches a year can now abruptly thaw up to 10 feet within days or weeks, creating wetlands in once frozen regions and accelerating emissions from up to 1,600 gigatons of carbon still locked underground.
Arctic permafrost is thawing fast. That affects us all
National Geographic 8-19
Sergey Zimov, an ecologist by training, tossed a woolly mammoth bone on the pile. He was squatting in mud along the cool, wide Kolyma River, below a towering cliff of crumbling earth. It was summer in eastern Siberia, far above the Arctic Circle, in that part of Russia that’s closer to Alaska than to Moscow. There wasn’t a speck of frost or snow in sight. Yet at this cliff, called Duvanny Yar, the Kolyma had chewed through and exposed what lies beneath: a layer of frozen ground, or permafrost, that is hundreds of feet deep—and warming fast.
Over a century of Arctic sea ice volume reconstructed with help from historic ships’ logs
Science Daily 8-12-19
A new study provides a 110-year record of the total volume of Arctic sea ice, using early US ships’ voyages to verify the earlier part of the record. The current sea ice volume and rate of loss are unprecedented in the 110-year record.
Arctic could be iceless in September if temps increase 2 degrees
Arctic sea ice could disappear completely through September each summer if average global temperatures increase by as little as 2 degrees, according to a new study by the University of Cincinnati. … “Our work provides a new statistical and mathematical framework to calculate climate change and impact probabilities,” said Jason Evans, a professor who works at the University of New South Wales and its Climate Change Research Centre.
Global Warming Is Changing the Winds Off Antarctica, Driving Ice Melt
Inside Climate News 8-12-19
Global warming is driving a shift in regional winds around the edges of Antarctica, and that’s speeding up the meltdown of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, new research shows. Westerly winds that enable warmer ocean water to creep beneath the floating edge of the ice sheet have become more prevalent over the past 100 years, scientists found in a new study, published Monday in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience. … The way the westerly winds push the surface water allows warmer water from below to reach under the ice shelves, accelerating ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. “West Antarctica has seen a major and consequential acceleration of land ice flow into the ocean, and we know the acceleration is driven by oceanic melting,” said Columbia University climate scientist Pierre Dutrieux, a co-author of the research.
In First-of-Its-Kind Survey, Greenlanders Report Fear and Anxiety Over Effects of Climate Crisis
Common Dreams 8-12-19
Researchers noted that people living in Greenland, where warming is about two to three times higher than it is elsewhere, are coping with major, noticeable changes in their surroundings. “The Arctic is a bellwether for the unequal impact of global warming on social and economic systems,” Minor told The Guardian. “As countries struggle to limit future risks and overall warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius [an increase of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit], many Arctic and Greenlandic residents are already living in regional climates that have changed by more than this, in less than a lifetime.” One doctor who was not involved in the study said the research shows the effects of “ecological grief.”
Natural-gas leaks are important source of greenhouse gas emissions in Los Angeles
Science Daily 8-12-19
Scientist have found that methane in L.A.’s air correlates with the seasonal use of gas for heating homes and businesses. In discussions of anthropogenic climate change, carbon dioxide generally gets the spotlight, but it is not the only greenhouse gas spewed into the atmosphere by human activity, nor is it the most potent. New research by Caltech scientists shows that, at least in the Los Angeles Basin, leaks of natural gas used for heating homes and businesses are major contributors to methane in the atmosphere.
Adani Beware: Coal Is on the Road to Becoming Completely Uninsurable
The announcement by Suncorp that it will no longer insure new thermal coal projects, along with a similar announcement by QBE Insurance a few months earlier, brings Australia into line with Europe where most major insurers have broken with coal. U.S. firms have been a little slower to move, but Chubb announced a divestment policy in July, and Liberty has confirmed it will not insure Australia’s Adani project. Other big firms such as America’s AIG are coming under increasing pressure. Even more than divestment of coal shares by banks and managed funds, the withdrawal of insurance has the potential to make coal mining and coal-fired power generation businesses unsustainable. As the chairman and founder of Adani Group, Gautam Adani, has shown in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, a sufficiently rich developer can use its own resources to finance a coal mine that banks won’t touch.
‘Coal is over’: the miners rooting for the Green New Deal
The Guardian 8-12-13
The coal industry in Appalachia is dying – something that people there know better than anyone. Some in this region are pinning their hopes on alternative solutions, including rising Democratic star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. A coal production forecast conducted in 2018 by West Virginia University estimates coal production will continue to decline over the next two decades. Over 34,000 coal mining jobs in the US have disappeared over the past decade, leaving around 52,000 jobs remaining in the industry. “Coal is over. Forget coal,” said Jimmy Simpkins, who worked as a coalminer in the area for 29 years. “It can never be back to what it was in our heyday. It can’t happen. That coal is not there to mine.”
DOE: Transportation sector consumes more petroleum than all other sectors combined
Green Car Congress 8-13-19
The transportation sector in the US consumes more petroleum than any other sector, and that share has increased over time from about 50% in 1950 to about 70% in 2018, according to the US Department of Energy (DOE). US petroleum consumption increased threefold between 1950 and 2018, from 6.5 million to 20.5 million barrels per day. The industrial sector has remained the second-largest consumer of petroleum, accounting for about one-quarter of all petroleum use, and that share has remained nearly the same over time. Electric utilities have consumed less than 1% of petroleum for the last 10 years.
Typhoon Lekima: Buildings collapse in China flooding devastation
Typhoon Lekima in China has killed dozens of people, with over a million evacuated from Zhejiang province. The typhoon made landfall in the early hours of Saturday morning, leading to heavy flooding and landslides, and causing buildings to collapse. Officials say about five million people in Zhejiang province have been affected and around 250,000 residents have been evacuated in Shanghai.
Typhoon Lekima – China – Aug. 2019 (6min)
Definitely worth reading…
New Models Point to More Global Warming Than We Expected
Weather Underground 8-6-19
Our planet’s climate may be more sensitive to increases in greenhouse gas than we realized, according to a new generation of global climate models being used for the next major assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The findings—which run counter to a 40-year consensus—are a troubling sign that future warming and related impacts could be even worse than expected. One of the new models, the second version of the Community Earth System Model (CESM2) from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), saw a 35% increase in its equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), the rise in global temperature one might expect as the atmosphere adjusts to an instantaneous doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Instead of the model’s previous ECS of 4°C (7.2°F), the CESM2 now shows an ECS of 5.3°C (9.5°F). … Cloud-related effects have long been one of the biggest question marks in projecting future climate change, apart from uncertainties in future greenhouse emissions that hinge on human behavior. Low clouds—especially marine stratocumulus, which cover huge swaths of tropical and subtropical ocean—are especially crucial, as they tend to cool the climate by reflecting large amounts of sunlight. … A 2019 study in Nature Geoscience that used a fine-scale cloud dynamic model found that marine stratocumulus could be depleted in large amounts if carbon dioxide levels were to reach about four times their current values, possibly triggering up to 8°C in additional global warming. See the post from last May by Dr. Jeff Masters on this paper.
Climate change likely to increase human exposure to toxic methylmercury
PHYS ORG 8-12-19
Add another item to the ever-growing list of the dangerous impacts of global climate change: Warming oceans are leading to an increase in the harmful neurotoxicant methylmercury in popular seafood, including cod, Atlantic bluefin tuna and swordfish. … The researchers found that methylmercury levels in cod were 6 to 20 percent lower in 1970 than they were in 2000. Spiny dogfish, however, had levels 33 to 61 percent higher in 1970 compared to 2000 despite living in the same ecosystem and occupying a similar place in the food web. … Another factor that comes into play is water temperature; as waters get warmer, fish use more energy to swim, which requires more calories. The Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest warming bodies of water in the world. The researchers found that between 2012 and 2017, methylmercury levels in Atlantic bluefin tuna increased by 3.5 percent per year despite decreasing emissions of mercury.
Pollutant linked to climate change accelerates lung disease
The study, the largest and longest of its kind, looked at whether exposures to four major pollutants–ground-level ozone, fine particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxide, and black carbon–were associated with the development of emphysema, measured by CT scan, and decline in lung function, measured by spirometry. (Ground-level ozone harms human health, but ozone high in the atmosphere ozone protects against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.)
Lower air pollution levels saved an estimated 5,660 lives in New York State in 2012, compared to 2002 levels, according to a new study…
Air pollution cuts are saving lives in New York state
PHYS ORG 6-7-19
“What’s novel about this study is that we use seven different PM2.5 exposure estimates to analyze the long-term change in mortality burden, and they all show a consistent decrease in mortality burden,” said Xiaomeng Jin, the Lamont researcher who led the study. The study considered four ailments triggered by long-term exposure to fine particulate matter: chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, and cerebrovascular and ischemic stroke.
In First-of-Its-Kind Survey, Greenlanders Report Fear and Anxiety Over Effects of Climate Crisis
Common Dreams 8-12-19
One doctor who was not involved in the study said the research shows the effects of “ecological grief.” “There is no question Arctic people are now showing symptoms of anxiety, ‘ecological grief,’ and even post-traumatic stress related to the effects of climate change,” Courtney Howard, president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, told The Guardian. In a video accompanying the study, one woman talked about the rapid melting of sea ice, which is used regularly by Greenlanders to travel with sled dogs and which is needed to sustain the fish population that feeds much of the country, over the course of their lives.
ADAPTION AND RESILIENCE
Excellent article with good graphics…
A clean energy breakthrough could be buried deep beneath rural Utah
LA Times 8-8-19
If you know anything about solar and wind farms, you know they’re good at generating electricity when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, and not so good at other times. Batteries can pick up the slack for a few hours. But they’re less useful when the sun and wind disappear for days at a time — a problem the Germans call “dunkelflaute,” meaning “dark doldrums.” Those long stretches of still, cloudy days are one of the main obstacles standing in the way of renewable energy fully replacing fossil fuels. For Los Angeles, salt may be a solution. One hundred miles south of Salt Lake City, a giant mound of salt reaches thousands of feet down into the Earth. It’s thick, relatively pure and buried deep, making it one of the best resources of its kind in the American West. Two companies want to tap the salt dome for compressed air energy storage, an old but rarely used technology that can store large amounts of power. It would work like a giant battery.
Knepp Estate: Small scale rewilding delivers big scale rewards in biodiversity and profitability on traditional farmland
Knepp Castle Estate comprises 3,500 acres of heavy weald clay in West Sussex. Though farmed intensively since WW2, the farm rarely made a profit. Rewilding has turned this around. Knepp has attracted support from Natural England through the Higher Level Stewardship scheme. And its focus on rewilding has prompted successful spin off enterprises. The farmland is now profitable. … Knepp Wildland’s ethos is to allow natural processes rather than aiming for any particular goals or outcomes. Free-roaming grazing animals – cattle, ponies, pigs and deer – drive this process-led regeneration. They act as proxies for herbivores that would have grazed the land thousands of years ago. Their different grazing preferences help create a mosaic of habitats from grassland and scrub to open-grown trees and wood pasture. These animals need minimal intervention. At low cost, they provide wild-range, slow-grown, pasture-fed organic meat for which there is a growing market. The fact that Knepp is still producing food – albeit extensively – has been a useful ally. In just over a decade Knepp has seen astonishing results in biodiversity. It is now a breeding hotspot for purple emperor butterflies, turtle doves and 2 per cent of the UK’s population of nightingales.
Knepp Castle Estate
Crucial to the project are our herds of free-roaming grazing animals – old English longhorns, Exmoor ponies, Tamworth pigs, and red and fallow deer. Their different grazing techniques and methods of physical disturbance – from trampling and puddling to rootling, rubbing, snapping branches and de-barking trees – together with their ability to transfer nutrients and disperse seeds over wide areas, create a complex mosaic of habitats across the whole Estate. We have also restored natural water systems, including 2 kms of the River Adur, allowing the land to ‘wet up’ and create dynamic aquatic habitats. Knepp’s heavy clay soil is perfect for this. Since the project began, the Estate has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife. Extremely rare species like turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding here; and populations of more common species are rocketing.
Installing solar panels on agricultural lands maximizes their efficiency
Science Daily 8-8-19
“Our results indicate that there’s a huge potential for solar and agriculture to work together to provide reliable energy,” said corresponding author Chad Higgins, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “There’s an old adage that agriculture can overproduce anything. That’s what we found in electricity, too. It turns out that 8,000 years ago, farmers found the best places to harvest solar energy on Earth.” The results have implications for the current practice of constructing large solar arrays in deserts, Higgins said.
‘What’s the best kind of car for the climate?’
Yale Climate Connections 8-12-19
You’ve heard that hybrid and electric vehicles consume more resources to manufacture than vehicles with internal combustion engines. It’s true that producing hybrid and electric vehicles requires more energy – and associated greenhouse gases – than those with only internal combustion engines. Manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles, in particular, consumes a lot of energy. However, that does not negate the climate benefits of the vehicles. Calculating the lifetime impact of the vehicles is complex, but various studies suggest that after they hit the road, hybrid and electric vehicles more than make up for their energy-intensive beginnings. Reichmuth of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an author of one such analysis, said that excess emissions from manufacturing electric vehicles are offset quickly: “As long as the car’s driving for more than a couple years, there’d be a net emissions benefit,” he said.
Samsung Said to be Readying Graphene Batteries, Capable of Insanely Fast Charge Times
According to a recent tweet from @evleaks, graphene batteries are on the horizon. Said to be working on the lithium-ion alternative is Samsung, who reportedly hopes to have at least on phone in either 2020 or 2021 with a graphene battery. As @evleaks tweets, “Samsung is hoping to have at least one handset either next year or in 2021, I’m told, which will feature a graphene battery instead. Capable of a full charge in under a half-hour, they still need to raise capacities while lowering costs.” Graphene has a few advantages over your typical lithium-ion battery. One of the advantages @evleaks points to is faster charge times,
WMG researchers convert used EV batteries into small off-grid ESS units
Green Car Congress 8-13-19
Researchers at WMG, University of Warwick, have repurposed end-of-life electric vehicle batteries as small energy storage systems (ESS) for off-grid locations in developing countries or isolated communities. The repurposed units, each containing approximately 2kWh of energy capacity, will be able to power a small shop, a farm holding, or multiple residential homes.
Ditch your air conditioning. You’ll be fine
The Guardian 8-11-19
And the world is burning; June was the hottest month in human history, and air conditioning is undoubtedly a factor in that. Hydrofluorocarbons, the refrigerants used in a/c units, are far more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide or methane, and if we continue along at our current pace, a/c alone will use as much electricity by mid-century as all of China uses today. If that power comes from fossil fuels, a/c alone will account for a half-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures.
WILDLIFE & THE ENVIRONMENT
Study examines a million corals one by one in urgent call to save reefs
Science Daily 8-12-19
The research encompassed over 2,500 reefs across 44 countries. Lamb provided its fourth-largest dataset, containing details on more than a million individual corals. Gathering the information required painstaking visual inspection, with Lamb and colleagues swimming underwater for as much as six hours each day. Armed with special measuring tapes, waterproof paper and pencils, they recorded information on each coral, meticulously identifying the size and health of more than 300 unique species. Key to this study were observations of bleaching, a visible indication water is too warm. When temperatures rise, corals expel algae they normally depend on for energy. The depletion robs the corals of their color and turns them white. It also eventually starves them.
Example of ‘Unknown Unknowns,’ Study Detailing ‘Almost Instant Mortality of Corals’ Suggests Crisis Worse Than Previously Understood
Common Dreams 8-9-19
As the human-caused climate crisis drives up ocean temperatures at a rate that has scientists worried, a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology reveals that warming waters are an even bigger threat to coral reefs than experts previously realized. Past research has raised alarm about how ocean pollution and rising temperatures cause coral bleaching—which is when coral expels algae, its main food source, and turns white. Although more susceptible to disease and death, bleached coral can recover if temperatures fall, so some scientists have been hopeful that urgent climate action could revive impacted reefs.
Marine heatwaves kill coral instantly
Commenting on the paper, Dr Laura Richardson, from the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University, UK, said that the really significant discovery was “the rapidity with which the reef skeleton breaks down when you have these severe heatwaves”. Dr Richardson added that the team had documented, for the first time, that severe heatwaves were causing “almost instant mortality of corals”. Dr Ainsworth said the researchers referred to the resulting, heat-damaged skeletons as “ghost corals, because there was just nothing left”. “Within about 10 days, those samples that had been exposed to the heatwave… were actually floating.”
Structurally complex forests better at carbon sequestration
Science Daily 8-12-19
The study demonstrates for the first time that a forest’s structural complexity is a better predictor of carbon sequestration potential than tree species diversity. The discovery may hold implications for the mitigation of climate change. “Carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, is taken up by trees through the process of photosynthesis and some of that ‘fixed’ carbon is allocated to wood,” said Chris Gough, Ph.D., corresponding author on the study and an associate professor in the Department of Biology in the College of Humanities and Sciences. “Our study shows that more complex forests are better at taking up and sequestering carbon in wood and, in doing so, they leave less carbon dioxide in the air.”
Damage to Germany’s storied forests stokes climate debate
Miami Herald 8-10-19
Germany’s forests — long a source of pride and national identity — are feeling the heat. A second consecutive year of unusually dry and warm weather has left swaths of dead and dying trees, fueling fears that the storied woods in more than a few of the fairytales by the Brothers Grimm could be heading for an unhappy end. Officials say droughts, wildfires and hungry beetles destroyed 110,000 hectares (270,000 acres) of forest in Germany in 2018 and the damage this year could be even worse.
New study shows impact of largescale tree death on carbon storage
PHYS ORG 8-12-19
Largescale ‘disturbances’, including fires, harvesting, windstorms and insect outbreaks, which kill large patches of forest, are responsible for more than a tenth of tree death worldwide, according to new research at the University of Birmingham. … Their simulations showed how even small changes to the frequency of large-scale disturbances can have a significant effect on forest carbon stocks in 44 per cent of the world’s dense forests. The model will enable scientists to better understand the context of events such as the recent wildfires which devastated parts of the Arctic.
Non-native invasive insects, diseases decreasing carbon stored in US forests
In North America, forests account for an estimated 76 percent of carbon sequestration, or removal from the atmosphere and storage globally. “The key impact of the tree-killing alien insects and diseases is that they are greatly increasing the rate at which trees die on average,” Liebhold said. “This transfers carbon stored in live trees to dead material and much of this carbon will likely return to the atmosphere.” Scientists emphasized that the study does not suggest that insect-killed trees become instant sources of carbon emissions. “Carbon transfers from living trees and plants to dead organic matter, and the release of carbon occurs gradually with decomposition of organic matter,” Fei said. “However, the total amount of carbon in these dead materials are substantial, which is comparable to carbon emissions from 4.4 million cars or nearly one-fifth of all wildfires in the United States annually.”
If you read nothing else read this…
Our Vanishing World: Rainforests
Global Researech 8-12-19
Rainforests are a crucial feature of Earth’s biosphere. Apart from being critical to Earth’s climate and vital carbon sinks, the major player in Earth’s hydrological (water) cycle, a massive producer of oxygen and home to most of the world’s species, rainforests are the home of a large indigenous human population. They are also the source of many vital resources, including medicines, used by humans around the world. However, the vast range of ecological services that rainforests have provided ongoingly for the 400 million years of their existence, and which have been critical to the survival of homo sapiens since we first walked the Earth 200,000 years ago, are not measured and valued by accountants and economists: Have you ever seen a balance sheet or set of national accounts that includes an entry for ‘Value of ecological services taken from nature and on which life and our entire production of goods and services depend’? However, a much wider range and vastly greater quantity of rainforest trees are cut or burnt down for purposes such as the following: acquiring timbers used in construction, clearing land to establish cattle farms so that many people can eat cheap hamburgers, clearing land to establish palm oil plantations so that many people can eat processed (including junk) foods based on this oil, clearing land to establish palm oil and soy bean plantations so that some people can delude themselves that they are using a ‘green biofuel’ in their car (when, in fact, these fuels generate a far greater carbon footprint than fossil fuels), mining (much of it illegal) for a variety of minerals (such as gold, silver, copper, coltan, cassiterite and diamonds), and logging to produce woodchips so that some people can buy cheap paper, including cheap toilet paper.
Despite temperature shifts, treehoppers manage to mate
Science Daily 8-9-19
Scientists know that there is a thermal window when the half-centimeter-long insects are active and temperature shifts can throw this delicate coordination off. For example, the songs produced by males to attract mates vary with temperature. At some temperatures, male treehoppers can even sound like different species, potentially confusing females, as female treehoppers use these songs to pick a good mate. A Saint Louis University research team wanted to know if temperature variation, which is increasing with global warming, could have a disruptive effect on the insects’ reproduction.
No till method also increases profit…
Alternatives to burning can increase Indian farmers’ profits and cut pollution
PHYS ORG 8-8-19
A new economic study in the journal Science shows that thousands of farmers in northern India could increase their profits if they stop burning their rice straw and adopt no-till practices to grow wheat. Alternative farming practices could also cut farmers’ greenhouse gas emissions from on-farm activities by as much as 78% and help lower air pollution in cities like New Delhi.
PROTESTS • EXTINCTION REBELLION • RESISTANCE
Major German union urges members to join climate protests
Miami Heald 8-5-19
One of Germany’s largest unions is calling on its members to join a worldwide protest calling for action on climate change next month. Verdi head Frank Bsirske told the WAZ newspaper on Monday he was calling on the union’s 2 million members to take part in the Sept. 20 protest that’s being organized by the group “Fridays for Future.” The group, which was inspired by Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, has attracted thousands to its weekly protests in cities across Europe and elsewhere in the world over the past year.
An interesting article by two young people. Worth reading…
How High School Students Are Collaborating to Organize Youth Climate Strikes
We, Elise and Liam, wanted to challenge this idea, especially when it comes to climate change. With the impending reality of our earth’s demise, we took it upon ourselves to create a difference in Boise, Idaho, the place we both call home.
Fridays for Future
Naples Youth Rally For Climate Change Legislation
Friday’s demonstration was intended to be the first of many according to 18-year-old Carolina Hernandez, the lead organizer of Naples Youth Protest. Hernandez said she is motivated to demand lawmakers take action to prevent further damage to the environment. She said she’s working for future generations. “I want to tell them that I actually did my best to give them the best life,” Hernandez said. “Not that I stayed there…looking at how everything was getting destroyed and doing nothing, but that I actually worked on it—and if we finally get the planet to heal—then they’re going to be proud of me.” The Naples Youth Protests are modeled after the international movement Fridays For Future.
Greta Thunberg’s sailing adventure no pleasure cruise
Sailing on the 60-foot (18-meter) Malizia II, outfitted with solar panels and underwater turbines to generate electricity, Thunberg will make a zero-carbon trans-Atlantic journey. But to call it a no-frills passage would be an understatement. The sailboat is built for high-speed, offshore racing, with weight kept to a minimum. The only alterations for the voyage are fitting curtains in front of the bunk and adding mattresses for comfort. There is no toilet or fixed shower. There’s a small gas cooker and the food will be freeze dried. Inside, the yacht resembles the interior of a tin can. It is dark and gray, with no windows below deck.
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Requium for a dead planet
‘Extinction Rebellion’ Dubbed Cult, But Supporters Say Radical Change Needed
The group’s next target is next month’s star-studded London Fashion Week. Activists have promised to shut down the five-day runway event in a bid to raise awareness of the environmental damage caused by the fashion industry. …Several leading XR adherents have announced they’ve decided not to procreate in response to the coming “climate breakdown and civilization collapse,” arguing the world is too horrible a place to bring children into it.
Icebergs delay Southern Hemisphere future warming, study shows
Science Daily 8-12-19
Future warming can accelerate the disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet. A large fraction of the ice will enter the Southern Ocean in form of icebergs, which melt and provide a cooling and freshening effect to the warmer and denser ocean water. This process will increase the formation of sea-ice and shift winds and ocean currents. The overall effect is a slowdown in the magnitude of human-induced Southern Hemispheric warming and sea-level rise, according to a new study.
Fracking Boom in US and Canada Largely to Blame for ‘Massive’ Rise of Global Methane Levels: Study
Common Dreams 8-14-19
“The methane in shale gas is somewhat depleted in 13C relative to conventional natural gas,” Howarth wrote in the study, published Wednesday in the journal Biogeosciences. “Correcting earlier analyses for this difference, we conclude that shale-gas production in North America over the past decade may have contributed more than half of all of the increased emissions from fossil fuels globally and approximately one-third of the total increased emissions from all sources globally over the past decade.” “The commercialization of shale gas and oil in the 21st century has dramatically increased global methane emissions,” he added.
Microplastic drifting down with the snow
PHYS ORG 8-14-19
A team of experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) has now found that microplastic particles can apparently be transported over tremendous distances by the atmosphere and are later washed out of the air by precipitation, particularly snow. As the team led by Dr. Melanie Bergmann and Dr. Gunnar Gerdts report in the journal Science Advances, the analyses they conducted on snow samples from Helgo-land, Bavaria, Bremen, the Swiss Alps and the Arctic confirm that the snow at all sites contained high concentrations of microplastic—even in remote reaches of the Arctic, on the is-land Svalbard, and in snow on drifting ice floes. “It’s readily apparent that the majority of the microplastic in the snow comes from the air,” says Melanie Bergmann. Her hypothesis is supported by past research conducted on grains of pollen, in which experts confirmed that pollen from the middle latitudes is transported by the air to the Arctic. These grains are roughly the same size as the microplastic particles; similarly, dust from the Sahara can cover distances of 3,500 km or more, reaching the northeast Atlantic.
Extinction Events in Earth History and Today (13 min)
Pathways to a low-carbon China
MIT News 8-13-19
A new study of China’s long-term power generation mix under the nation’s ETS projects that until 2065, renewable energy sources will likely expand to meet these targets; after that, carbon capture and storage (CCS) could be deployed to meet the more stringent targets that follow. Led by researchers at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, the study appears in the journal Energy Economics. “This research provides insight into the level of carbon prices and mix of generation technologies needed for China to meet different CO2 intensity targets for the electric power sector,” says Jennifer Morris, lead author of the study and a research scientist at the MIT Joint Program. ”We find that coal CCS has the potential to play an important role in the second half of the century, as part of a portfolio that also includes renewables and possibly nuclear power.”
Key factors in how some algae harness solar energy
Science Daily 8-13-19
Scientists have discovered how diatoms — a type of alga that produce 20 percent of the Earth’s oxygen — harness solar energy for photosynthesis. The discovery could help lead to more efficient and affordable algae-based biofuels and combat climate change from fossil fuel burning.
Paul Beckwith: “I declare a global climate change emergency to claw back up the rock face to attempt to regain system stability, or face an untenable calamity of biblical proportions.”
Kevin Hester: “There is no past analogue for the rapidity of what we are baring witness to. There has been a flood of articles … 2C is no longer attainable and that we are heading for dangerous climate change”
Magi Amma: We need to turn on a dime at mach nine!
• 1 gigatonne equals one billion tons
• 1 gigatonne of carbon equals 3.67 gigatonnes of CO2
• 1 part per million of atmospheric CO2 is equivalent to 7.81 gigatonnes of CO2