"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

This Is Absolutely Terrifying: “There Are Really Only Two Big Patches Of Intact Forest Left On Earth.”

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2015 at 12:24 am

Oldspeak: “So at the same time ever increasing amounts of CO2 are being spewed into the atmosphere, forests which play a crucial role in maintaining the global carbon budget; worldwide, sucking up 2.4 billion metric tons of carbon each year, are facing a triple whammy. They’re being clear cut at unsustainable rates, dying at faster rates ever year, and cut up into smaller and smaller fragments by more and more by roads, that lead to more habitat killing activities like industrial agriculture, wildfires, mining & poaching. This news is especially worrying given that the Amazon, home to one of those 2 big patches is dying, and losing it’s ability to sequester carbon.  Converting from a carbon sink to a carbon emitter. Forest cover is shrinking every year. Yet another irreversible non-linear positive feedback loop in play, courtesy of industrial civilization. Can’t see this turning out well.” -OSJ

Lindsay Abrams @ Salon:

A new study uncovers the ruinous consequences, to plant and animal species, of our increasingly fragmented forests.

Can a forest that exists only in the spaces between roads and patches cleared for human settlement and agricultural development truly be called a forest?

Not so much, say researchers studying the growing, global problem of forest fragmentation. And the “persistent, deleterious and often unpredicted” consequences of human activity, finds a new study conducted by a team off 24 international scientists, and funded by the National Science Foundation, may be ruinous for plant and animal life.

“There are really only two big patches of intact forest left on Earth — the Amazon and the Congo — and they shine out like eyes from the center of the map,” lead author Nick Haddad, a professor at North Carolina State University, told the New Yorker.

“Nearly 20 percent of the world’s remaining forests are the distance of a football field — or about 100 meters — away from forest edges,” he elaborated in a statement. “Seventy percent of forest lands are within a half-mile of forest edges. That means almost no forests can really be considered wilderness.”

And the consequences of that forest loss, the researchers discovered, may be more profound than we’ve previously realized. To figure that out, they looked at the results of seven experiments, which took place on five different continents, that aimed to simulate the impacts of human activity on forests. Several of the studies have been going on for decades, and the results, in aggregate, were striking: fragmented habitats, they found, can reduce plant and animal diversity by anywhere from 13 to 75 percent.

In general, the studies showed that when patches of forest become smaller and more isolated, the abundance of birds, mammal, insects and plants decreases in kind — those pressures, the authors write, reduced the species’ ability to persist. Areas surrounded by a higher proportion of edges, they also found, were a boon to predators that target birds, which is arguably good, in the short-term, for the predators, although not so much for the birds. Fragmented forests experienced a decline in their core ecosystem functions, as well: they were less able to sequester carbon dioxide, an important element of mitigating climate change, and displayed reduced productivity and pollination.

Increasing Global Overpumping Of Groudwater Is Contributing To Sea Level Rise

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2015 at 9:29 pm
irrigation

Irrigation in California’s San Joaquin Valley GomezDavid/iStock

Oldspeak: “Perfect example of Humans as the mother of all feedback loops. Human activities created the conditions for mega-droughts, glacial melting and sea level rise. As a result of mega-droughts and glacial melting, humans have to pump more and more unsustainable levels of groundwater out of ancient aquifers that are rapidly running dry. The ever increasing over pumping is in turn contributing to the sea level rise that is already submerging some coastal cities. Seems like we’re on a hamster wheel of doom.” -OSJ

By Tom Knudson @ Reveal:

Pump too much groundwater and wells go dry—that’s obvious.

But there is another consequence that gets little attention as a hotter, drier planet turns increasingly to groundwater for life support.

So much water is being pumped out of the ground worldwide that it is contributing to global sea level rise, a phenomenon tied largely to warming temperatures and climate change.

It happens when water is hoisted out of the earth to irrigate crops and supply towns and cities, then finds its way via rivers and other pathways into the world’s oceans. Since 1900, some 4,500 cubic kilometers of groundwater around the world—enough to fill Lake Tahoe 30 times—have done just that.

“Long-term groundwater depletion represents a large transfer of water from the continents to the oceans,” retired hydrogeologist Leonard Konikow wrote earlier this year in one article. “Thus, groundwater depletion represents a small but nontrivial contributor to SLR [sea-level rise].”

Sea levels have risen 7 to 8 inches since the late 19th century and are expected to rise more rapidly by 2100. The biggest factors are associated with climate change: melting glaciers and other ice and the thermal expansion of warming ocean waters.

Groundwater flowing out to sea added another half-inch—6 to 7 percent of overall sea level rise from 1900 to 2008, Konikow reported in a 2011 article in Geophysical Research Letters. “That really surprised a lot of people,” he said in a recent interview with Reveal.

Konikow also has reported that 1,000 cubic kilometers—twice the volume of Lake Erie—were depleted from aquifers in the US from 1900 to 2008, and the pace of the pumping is increasing.

In California, so much groundwater has been pumped from aquifers in parts of the San Joaquin Valley that the land itself is starting to sink like a giant pie crust, wreaking havoc with roads, bridges and water delivery canals.

Not only is groundwater growing scarce, but we’re pumping out older and older water. In parts of California, cities and farms are tapping reserves that fell to Earth during a much wetter climatic regime—the ice age, a phenomenon that Reveal covered earlier this month and which raises questions about future supplies as the climate turns drier.

Last week, NASA senior water scientist Jay Famiglietti warned that “the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing.”

According to Konikow, groundwater overdraft in the US accounted for about 22 percent of global groundwater depletion from 1900 to 2008, contributing about an eighth of an inch to global sea level rise.

World Ocean Heartbeat Fading? ‘Nasty’ Signs North Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation is Weakening

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2015 at 7:50 pm

theoldspeakjournal:

NOAA land ocean temperatuer anomalies

Oldspeak: Yeahhhh…. Not good. NOT GOOD ATAL. Earth’s oceans are in critical condition, heartbeat is fading. A perfect storm of irreversible feedbacks are combining to make the situation worse. Keep in mind the words of Captain Paul Wilson “If the oceans die, we die.” Well, we die anyway, details, details.” -OSJ

Originally posted on robertscribbler:

Scientists call it Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). But we may as well think of it as the heartbeat of the world ocean system. And when that heartbeat begins to slow down, we’d best sit up and start paying attention:

(New video produced by climate hawk Peter Sinclair and featuring top scientists Stefan Rahmstorf, Michael Mann, and Jason Box, issues warnings about an observed disruption to ocean circulation due to water freshening in the North Atlantic. This is the kind of work I mentioned last week in my KPFA interview. The kind that should be showing on major network news every single night. Since that probably won’t happen, I urgently ask you to spread this video, together with its critical information, as far and as wide as possible.)

Global Warming Poses Risk to Ocean Circulation, Life Support

For nearly three decades now, prominent climate scientists have been warning…

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