A Comparison of Magnitudes: ‘Some reports in the media attempt to downplay the significance of the release of oil from the Deepwater Horizon accident by arguing that natural oil seeps release large volumes of oil to the ocean, so why worry? Lets look at the numbers.’ (The Oil Drum via /.)
Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist, believes that eco-catastrophists are wrong about humans and our impact on the planet. (spiked) Do you find this argument believable? I think that arguing from precedent that we can be sanguine about global warming is a straw man argument. Spiked‘s ‘don’t worry be happy’ polemics are tiresomely undiscriminating.
“The collision in early February of the 60-mile-long B-9B iceberg with the protruding tongue of the Mertz Glacier in East Antarctica is captured here in a series of satellite radar images.
The crash created a second massive iceberg nearly 50 miles long and 25 miles wide, named C-28. The name means that it’s the 28th glacier since 1976 that has broken off from the quadrant of Antarctica that faces Australia.
The two icebergs have since drifted into a polynya, which is an area of open water that’s surrounded by sea ice but stays unfrozen for much or all of the year. The bergs are obstructing the ocean circulation created by the polynya, and could deprive local marine life of oxygen if they don’t move.
The images were taken by the synthetic-aperture-radar instrument aboard the European Space Agency’s Envisat satellite.” (Wired)
‘Billions of bits of plastic are accumulating in a massive garbage patch in the Atlantic Ocean—a lesser known cousin to the Texas-size trash vortex in the Pacific, scientists say.
“Many people have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” said Kara Lavender Law, an oceanographer at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. “But this issue has essentially been ignored in the Atlantic.”
The newly described garbage patch sits hundreds of miles off the North American coast. Although its east-west span is unknown, the patch covers a region between 22 and 38 degrees north latitude—roughly the distance from Cuba to Virginia…’ (National Geographic)
- A Sea of Plastics (usnews.com)
- New floating garbage patch found in Atlantic Ocean (telegraph.co.uk)
- Ocean Garbage Patch Found in the Atlantic Ocean (grantlawrence.blogspot.com)
- Study finds plastic trash collection in Atlantic (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- ‘Rubbish patch’ blights Atlantic (news.bbc.co.uk)
Anyone who has ever visited San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf has probably hung out with the sea lions of Pier 39, who first appeared after the 1989 earthquake. You should have heard by now about their recent mysterious mass departure, which had left some speculating that they had some sixth sense about an impending disaster such as another major quake. Now, it appears, it has been determined that there is a simpler explanation. In this El Nino season, they have simply gone after their shifting food source. (SFist) This is not to say, it seems to me, that they are not canaries in a coalmine with respect to a different sort of impending disaster, climate change.
‘An interview with Dennis Meadows, whose 1972 book The Limits of Growth was an early warning of global crisis.’ (Salon)
It appears to be a cascade of events kicked off by a picorna virus infection, new research suggests. It was the suspension of a ban on the importation of honeybees into the US about five yeas ago that seems to have laid the groundwork. Popular Science.
‘The public's “right to starlight” is steadily being eroded by urban illumination that is the bane of astronomers everywhere, says the International Astronomical Union.
The body, which wrapped up an 11-day general assembly in Rio de Janeiro that attracted galaxy-gazers from around the world, argues that authorities should use more unobtrusive lighting in cities and towns.
Such moves would not only free up the night skies to make for easier viewing, but also promote environmental protection, energy savings and tourism, it said in a resolution.’ (ABC Science).
“As government agencies and corporations scramble to cut expenses, one idea gaining widespread attention involves cutting something most employees wouldn't mind losing: work on Fridays. Regular three-day weekends, without a decrease in the actual hours worked per week, could not only save money, but also ease pressures on the environment and public health, advocates say. In fact, several states, cities and companies across the country are considering, or have already implemented on a trial basis, the condensed schedule for their employees.” (Scientific American)
“Some of the first eerie signs of a potential health catastrophe came as bizarre deformities in water animals, often in their sexual organs.
…Now scientists are connecting the dots with evidence of increasing abnormalities among humans, particularly large increases in numbers of genital deformities among newborn boys. For example, up to 7 percent of boys are now born with undescended testicles, although this often self-corrects over time. And up to 1 percent of boys in the United States are now born with hypospadias, in which the urethra exits the penis improperly, such as at the base…” — Nicholas Kristoff (New York Times op-ed)
“Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.” Read it all (CharityFocus Blog)
So much natural gas leaks into a Colorado couple’s water that they can light it on fire. Via WCBS-TV.
“A month after Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal complained about wasteful spending in President Obama’s economic stimulus package, including money for “something called ‘volcano monitoring,’” Alaska pilots were grateful for such expenditures. The Alaska Volcano Observatory was ready with warnings to flight officials when Alaska’s Mount Redoubt blew five times Sunday night and Monday morning, sending potentially deadly ash clouds north of Anchorage.” via The Associated Press.
“Each morning, about 450 students travel along 17 school bus routes to 10 elementary schools in this lakeside city at the southern tip of Lake Como. There are zero school buses.
In 2003, to confront the triple threats of childhood obesity, local traffic jams and — most important — a rise in global greenhouse gases abetted by car emissions, an environmental group here proposed a retro-radical concept: children should walk to school.” via NYTimes.
“Tell Secretary Salazar you oppose removing federal protections for gray wolves.
Independent scientists say that 2,000 to 3,000 wolves are required to ensure the survival of the species. But this new rule would clear the way for Idaho and Montana to kill hundreds of wolves, reducing the population to a level that is too small to survive.
Speak out today. 10,704 people have already taken action—add your voice today.” via Earthjustice: Environmental Law.
What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.” ‘ (New York Times op-ed)
- Who’s Advising Tom Friedman? I Have a Guess (Connie Loizos/PE Hub Blog) (techmeme.com)
- Flat N All That (nypress.com)
- Attacking the Financial Crisis with Green Cards, Not Just Greenbacks (takepart.com)
- Quote of Note: Tom Friedman (isen.com)
“Views of spacious skies and purple mountain majesties in US national parks may soon be interrupted by industrial roads and power lines, after years of Bush policies that pushed commerce over conservation, reports the Los Angeles Times. And unlike the many decisions that President Obama can quickly reverse, the changes looming for national parks may be difficult or impossible to prevent.
Moves like greenlighting a uranium mine on the Grand Canyon’s doorstep or auctioning oil leases next-door to Arches National Park were met with near-universal dismay, but a “culture of fear” and “ethical failure” within the Interior Department quashed opposition…” via Newser.
‘An unexpected, thick layer of solar particles inside Earth’s magnetic field suggests there are huge breaches in our planet’s solar defenses, scientists said.
These breaches indicate that during the next period of high solar activity, due to start in 2012, Earth will experience some of the worst solar storms seen in decades.
Solar winds—charged particles from the sun—help create auroras, the brightly colored lights that sometimes appear above the Earth’s poles.
But the winds also trigger storms that can interfere with satellites’ power sources, endanger spacewalkers, and even knock out power grids on Earth.’
- Aurora Anyone?
- Huge Hole Found on Earth’s Magnetic Field, Run Around In Panic Now [Nasa]
- New Cloak of Plasma Found Around Earth
- Sloshing Inside Earth Changes Protective Magnetic Field
“Computer models have long predicted that decreasing sea ice should amplify temperature changes in the northern polar region.
Julienne Stroeve, from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, told a meeting of the American Geophysical Union that this process was under way.”
Obituary for the Hummer
via Salon News.
- Hedging its bets – HUMMER dealer anticipates doom, pre-emptively downsizes
- Report: GM Caught Not Soliciting Hummer Offers [Hummer For Sale]
- More Evidence Points To Hummer Sale; Russians, Chinese Interested? [Industry News]
- GM: Sale Of Hummer Is “Urgent” [Hummer For Sale]
- Nobody Seems To Want To Buy Hummer [Industry News]
- Hummer Drivers – Colbert Report on America’s Hero’s (video)
- GM offering buyouts and bonuses to HUMMER dealers
Bruce Sterling: “A 30-mile scar of debris along the Texas coast stands as a festering testament to what state and local officials say is FEMA's sluggish response to the 2008 hurricane season. (((Okay, great, blame the feds, but what about the next storm surge?)))
Two and a half months after Hurricane Ike blasted the shoreline, alligators and snakes crawl over vast piles of shattered building materials, lawn furniture, trees, boats, tanks of butane and other hazardous substances, thousands of animal carcasses, and perhaps even the corpses of people killed by the storm.
State and local officials complain that the removal of the filth has gone almost nowhere because FEMA red tape has held up the cleanup work and the release of the millions of dollars that Chambers County says it needs to pay for the project.”
Plankton, bats, primates, fungi and bees – which species would have the greatest impact on our planet if it were lost? Five experts set out their case public debate in London next Thursday