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

Global Temperatures And Atmospheric CO2: Hottest March Ever; CO2 Hits All-Time High Of 404 ppb. Last 12 Months On Earth Hottest In Recorded History

In Uncategorized on April 24, 2015 at 6:29 pm

Oldspeak:March 2015 was Earth’s warmest March since global record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) on Friday. NASA rated March 2015 as the 3rd warmest March on record (small differences in analysis techniques can lead to slightly different rankings from agency to agency, and the two estimates were quite close to each other.) March 2015’s warmth makes the year to date period (January – March) the warmest such period on record, and the past twelve months the warmest twelve-month period in recorded history. By NOAA’s reckoning, seven of the past eleven months (May, June, August, September, October, and December 2014, along with March 2015) have tied or set new record high monthly temperatures. According to NASA, March 2015 had the 5th largest departure from average for warmth of any month in recorded history. Out of the ten months with the largest departures from average in the NASA database, five have occurred in the past year.” -Dr. Jeff Masters

“As temperatures and CO2 rise, our chances of survival dwindles. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick tick….” -OSJ

By Jon Plotkin @ Decoded Science:

The map of March land and sea temperatures shows warmth over much of the globe, with a cold pocket over eastern Canada and New England. Analysis courtesy of NOAA.

NOAA published its report on global land and sea temperatures for March on Friday, April 17. Inasmuch as five of the previous seven months set new records, it was not surprising that March’s land and sea temperatures were the highest ever recorded for that month.

The three months of January through March, and the most recent calendar year are also the warmest ever recorded for those periods of time.

Separately, but not coincidentally, the instruments on Mount Mauna Loa in Hawaii found atmospheric CO2 concentrations to be above 404 parts per billion for the first time on April 14. That was the first of four consecutive days above 400.

An Overview Of March Worldwide Land And Sea Temperatures

Most of the Earth was warmer than normal in March – let’s look at some specifics:

      • Very much above normal temperatures stretched across all of northern Europe and Asia.
      • The United Sates and Canada were split down the middle, with very cold temperatures in the east and very warm temperatures in the west.
      • All of South America, except for the northern tip, was warm.
      • Most of Africa was warm, but the northwest was cold.
      • Northern and eastern Australia were very warm.
      • All of India was colder than normal.
      • The largest ocean temperature anomaly continues to be off the west coast of the US and Canada, with the maximum in the Gulf of Alaska.
      • Overall, warmth was spread evenly between land and sea: The land surface temperatures were second highest for March, and ocean temperatures were third highest.
      • Warmth was also spread uniformly between the northern and southern hemispheres: The northern hemisphere had its second warmest March and the southern hemisphere tied its third warmest.

The map of precipitation anomaly for March shows that much of the US and western Europe were dry, while Turkey and the Balkans were very wet. Analysis courtesy of NOAA.

March Precipitation

Though precipitation varies greatly from month to month, some trends continued in March:

  • The drought goes on in California and the American west.
  • Most of Europe continued to be dry.
  • Heavy rains inundated the Balkans and Turkey.
  • Australia and the southern part of South America were dry.
  • India was wetter than normal.

Arctic Sea Ice Extent

Arctic sea ice extent has been measured by satellite since 1979.

The March measurement was 7.9% below the 1981-2010 average — the lowest Arctic sea ice extent ever measured for the month of March.

Atmospheric CO2 Reaches New High

The plot of daily CO2 readings on Mount Mauna Loa shows that the atmospheric concentration has been over 404 ppb for the last four days, something that never happened before. Graph courtesy of NOAA.

Since pre-industrial times, the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide (CO2) has risen from 280 to over 400 parts per billion (ppb). In the past week, the value of this greenhouse gas concentration, as measured on Mount Mauna Loa in Hawaii surpassed, 404 ppb for the first time.

The highest reading of 404.83 came on April 14, and the concentration was over 404 for four consecutive days before falling to 403.44 yesteday.

The weekly average for the week starting April 12 was 404.02, surpassing the old record of 403.42 set the previous week.

Carbon dioxide concentration normally peaks in May, so new daily and weekly records are likely to be set in the next few weeks.

Where Is The CO2 Coming From?

Though some of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide may be coming from other sources, the majority comes from power plants and automobile tailpipes.

The process of energy production from hydrocarbons is not a complicated one: A single carbon atom combines with a molecule of oxygen (consisting of two atoms) to make a carbon dioxide molecule (CO2). This chemical reaction releases energy, which is used to power our modern world. The CO2 produced by the combustion process is normally released into the air by power plants and cars.

Carbon dioxide has a natural atmospheric cycle in which the gas is expelled from volcanic sources and washed out of the atmosphere by precipitation. However, this process is a long one; the rate of increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide in the last 150 years is unprecedented except for times of very high volcanic activity.

Stemming The Tide Of CO2 Increase

Though the production of greenhouse gases in general, and carbon dioxide in particular, has leveled off in the United States in recent years, the production of energy from fossil fuel burning continues to increase in developing countries. India and China are building coal-fired power plants — the worst of the fossil fuel power sources in terms of CO2 emissions — at a rate of about one plant per week.

The basic facts of the intransigent problem of increasing energy use hasn’t changed: Developed countries want to retain their lavish lifestyle; and developing countries want to acquire that lifestyle. A new UN-sponsored climate conference will convene in Paris in December. Representatives of the two sides will try again to reach a compromise that will actually reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.

Decoded Science wishes them luck.

U.S. West Coast Sardine Population Collapses, 91% Decline Prompting Ban On Commercial Fishing 2 Months Early

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2015 at 8:32 pm

https://i0.wp.com/i.ytimg.com/vi/N-1d7Lt7ptM/0.jpg

Oldspeak:”This is a huge step,this is one of the most lucrative fisheries in California, so to completely shut it down is a huge deal… We believe the harm has been irreparable and will already have ramifications for decades to come… We’ve basically reduced the carrying capacity of the ecosystem to support the populations of other species that depend on sardines. The more fish we take, the more it is going to make that situation even worse.” Geoffrey Shester, California campaign director for Oceana

The collapse this year is the latest in a series of alarming die-offs, sicknesses and population declines in the ocean ecosystem along the West Coast. Anchovies, which thrive in cold water, have also declined over the past decade due largely to fluctuating ocean temperatures and a lack of zooplankton, their food of choice…The number of herring seen in San Francisco Bay has fluctuated wildly, reaching a historic low in 2009….Record numbers of starving sea lions have recently been washing up on beaches in California because there aren’t enough sardines and anchovies for pups to eat. Fisheries scientists estimate that 70 percent of sea lion pups will die this year due to a lack of food…Brown pelicans, too, have suffered from mass reproductive failures and are turning up sick and dead in California and Oregon. A 2010 study by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Geological Survey and other scientific organizations found that many of the starving and emaciated pelicans are eating worms and other prey inconsistent with their normal diet of anchovies and sardines.” -Peter Fimrite

“Utterly unsurprising, given the reality:Phytoplankton — which form the base of ocean food chains — have declined 40 percent since 1950..The trend is linked to warming of the surface of the oceans….The die-off could affect climate, fisheries and ocean health…In oceans around the world, there has been a surprisingly large and extensive decline in phytoplankton — the tiny algae that keep marine food webs afloat. So when the most abundant and essential part of the ocean food wed starts dying off, you’re gonna see things like this. The fact that humans are overfishing is just accelerating the inevitable. The real story here is the entire marine food web is in the process of collapse. Expect to see more stories like this as time passes and conditions worsen.” -OSJ

By Peter Fimrite @ The San Francisco Gate:

The sardine population along the West Coast has collapsed due to changing ocean conditions and other factors, including allegations of overfishing, prompting regulators Monday to cancel fishing next season and schedule a vote this week on an immediate emergency ban.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council agreed to close the fishery from Mexico to the Canadian border starting July 1, when the 2015 season begins, after federal scientists documented a 91 percent decline in sardine numbers along the West Coast since 2007.

The council, a 19-member policymaking organization made up of fishery representatives from California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, scheduled a vote Wednesday on whether to take the bigger step of immediately halting sardine fishing. The current season would go until June 30 or until between 3,000 and 4,000 metric tons of the schooling fish are hauled out of the water, fulfilling this season’s quota.

“This is a huge step,” said Geoffrey Shester, the California campaign director for Oceana, an international conservation organization that has been fighting for eight years to lower the annual sardine take and implement stricter regulations. “This is one of the most lucrative fisheries in California, so to completely shut it down is a huge deal.”

Causes of crisis

A lack of spawning caused by unfavorable ocean conditions was blamed for the decline, but fishery biologists say faulty abundance estimates contributed by allowing regulators to set sardine fishing limits too high. It was a problem that scientists have been warning fishery managers about since 2012, Shester said.

“There’s a management failure here,” said Shester, whose group filed a lawsuit in 2011 demanding action. A judge refused to hear the case on grounds that it was not filed in a timely fashion, but the case is now on appeal.

“They didn’t respond fast enough to the decline,” said Shester, who blamed overfishing for worsening an already bad situation. “Now we find ourselves in a crisis situation.”

Don McIsaac, the management council executive director, said sardine populations often fluctuate, and cold water over the past three or four years has lowered the birth rate.

“Sardines like warm water,” McIsaac said, adding that staff biologists ruled out overfishing as a cause. “Their spawning plummets when it gets cold.”

The dilemma harkens back to the mid-1950s when the Monterey Bay canneries of author John Steinbeck fame began failing, mostly as a result of overfishing. Stiff quotas and catch limits required by the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act helped save the sardines. The population of the tiny epipelagic fish increased throughout the 1990s.

Monterey Bay is once again the Bay Area hub of sardine fishing, but the oily pilchards can also be caught off the coast of San Francisco. Huge quantities of the nutrient-rich fish are hauled up at the Channel Islands in Southern California and along the Oregon coast, where fishermen are now catching as much as 65 tons a day of the schooling pescados. The only spot where sardines are known to be currently spawning is off the coast of Oregon.

The sardine fleet has been known to bring in between $10 million and $20 million in annual revenue from sales in recent decades, Shester said.

Sardines are mostly sold for bait. The fish are generally frozen in big blocks for use in commercial long-line fishing and for feed at Australian and Japanese blue fin tuna farms. There are some efforts, including among local Indian tribes, to promote it as a healthy local delicacy.

Severe downturn

The sardine population peaked in about 2007, according to a March 19 report issued by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But things recently took a turn for the worse. This season’s quota was set at 23,293 metric tons based on biomass estimates calculated last year, but the National Marine Fisheries Service report concluded the estimates were “unrealistically high.” The sardine population, it said, is about 26 percent lower than the estimates because of a lack of spawning due to poor ocean conditions in 2014.

Sardine numbers — which can only be measured using their collective weight — have dropped from 1,037,000 metric tons in 2007 to 96,688 metric tons, a 91 percent decline, the report said.

“We believe the harm has been irreparable and will already have ramifications for decades to come,” Shester said. “We’ve basically reduced the carrying capacity of the ecosystem to support the populations of other species that depend on sardines. The more fish we take, the more it is going to make that situation even worse.”

The collapse this year is the latest in a series of alarming die-offs, sicknesses and population declines in the ocean ecosystem along the West Coast. Anchovies, which thrive in cold water, have also declined over the past decade due largely to fluctuating ocean temperatures and a lack of zooplankton, their food of choice.

The number of herring seen in San Francisco Bay has fluctuated wildly, reaching a historic low in 2009.

Record numbers of starving sea lions have recently been washing up on beaches in California because there aren’t enough sardines and anchovies for pups to eat. Fisheries scientists estimate that 70 percent of sea lion pups will die this year due to a lack of food.

Sick pelicans

Brown pelicans, too, have suffered from mass reproductive failures and are turning up sick and dead in California and Oregon. A 2010 study by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Geological Survey and other scientific organizations found that many of the starving and emaciated pelicans are eating worms and other prey inconsistent with their normal diet of anchovies and sardines.

Strange diseases have also been proliferating in the sea. Large numbers of sea lions have recently been found convulsing with seizures caused by a neurotoxin found in algae blooms or red tides. The blooms suddenly proliferate for unknown reasons, cover large areas and infuse shellfish, mussels, anchovies, sardines and other filter feeders with toxins that are then consumed by sea lions.

The number of epileptic sea lions has been growing for at least a decade, according to researchers.

The fishery management council, which is required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act to close ocean fishing if the number of fish do not reach conservation objectives, did not place limits on the sardine trade that supplies recreational fishers with bait. Nor are there additional limits on the quota for anchovies, which are also in decline, Shester said.

The council allows up to 7,000 metric tons of sardines to be caught annually as bycatch, meaning it is not the targeted fish. That includes 1,000 metric tons granted to the Quinault Indian Nation, along the port of Washington. Mistakenly netted sardines cannot make up more than 40 percent of a single catch, according to the rules.

“It’s a serious situation,” McIsaac said of the closure. “It’s a great disappointment and financial hardship on many ports up and down the coast, but this is being done to try to make things better.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Peter Fimrite is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: pfimrite@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @pfimrite

5 Years Later: The Monumental Clusterfuck That Is The BP Gulf Oil Disaster Is Ongoing

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2015 at 12:45 pm
Oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico is burned in an attempt to quell its spread, June 16, 2010. (Photo: Kris Krüg)

Oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico is burned in an attempt to quell its spread, June 16, 2010. (Photo: Kris Krüg)

Oldspeak:”I had the privilege of performing in a show yesterday commemorating the 5 year anniversary of the BP Gulf Oil Disaster, “Voices From The Gulf“. A group of NYC based artists and performers from the Gulf shared their work documenting the calamity. Tragic stories in the form of letters from residents suffering the effects of the poisoning from the deadly oil and correxit cocktail were shared. This is an ongoing and incalculable ecological catastrophe. In all probability, oil is still leaking from the supposedly shut Macondo well. People and environment alike are still suffering and dying as a result of this crime. Livelihoods that depend on fishing have been decimated. And BP has aggressively and consistently demonstrated that it has little intention of fixing the clusterfuck its willful neglect and greed begot. In fact it’s actually denying 61 percent of damages and compensation claims filed by residents, and forced an unconscionable 81% of claimants to sign a  ‘Release and Covenant Not to Sue’ in which the claimant agreed not to sue BP and all other potentially liable parties. Yet, the despite the fact that this practice is INHERENTLY UNSAFE drilling continues unabated. There is literally nothing to stop this from happening again. The once bountiful and beautiful Gulf Of Mexico has been transformed in to one big Sacrifice Zone, of death and destruction.”“We’re paying the price for their greed and irresponsible exploration…They went ‘balls to the wall’ with their drilling because they didn’t care. It was just money, money, money.”George Barisich, Lifelong Commercial Shrimper. Profit Is Paramount. All else, gets fucked.” -OSJ

By Julie Dermansky @ DeSmogBlog:

Cat Island, off the Gulf Coast in Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish, was home to a vibrant bird rookery inhabited by brown pelicans, seagulls, spoonbills, and egrets before BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Five years after the largest oil spill in American history, the barrier island has just about disappeared.

Despite ongoing efforts by former Plaquemines Parish coastal zone manager PJ Hahn to restore the island, only the needed building permits and an engineering plan have been completed.

“Cat Island was ground zero of the oil spill,” Hahn told DeSmogBlog.

Dead bird on Cat Island five years after the BP oil spill. March 31, 2015. ©2015 Julie Dermansky

He thought that the restoration of the island was a no-brainer since, while much of the oil spill’s damage was underwater and invisible, the damage to Cat Island was easy to prove. According to Hahn, not only would the island’s restoration be necessary for the birds, but it would provide a great public relations move for anyone who helped in the process.

At the time of the spill, Cat Island was approximately five and a half acres, covered by a dense forest of black mangrove trees which were occupied by nesting birds. All that remains now are two small strips of land — less than an acre combined. Mangrove stumps jut out from the broken, shell-covered sandy remains of the island, at times fully submerged during high tide.

“The island was a treasure and it deserves to be restored,” Hahn told DeSmogBlog. He continues to advocate for the restoration project he spearheaded.

“It’s a hard sell for many since the island doesn’t serve as storm protection like other barrier islands that are in the process of being restored since the spill,” Hahn said.

But Cat Island and other small barrier islands, some of which have completely eroded since the spill, were perfect bird habitats because they were free of predators. Hahn believes the $6 million restoration price tag is a good investment, one that will pay for itself in dollars generated by the tourism industry. “Bird watchers from all over will come to visit the island,” he said.

Brown Pelicans and Spoonbills on Cat Island. © 2015 Julie Dermansky 

Media and Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition at Cat Island, March 31, 2015. © 2015 Julie Dermansky 

So far, the parish has raised $3 million of the $6 million needed before the rebuilding process can begin.

Shell, the only oil company to contribute, donated $1 million. Other contributors include the American Bird Conservancy and the federal Coastal Impact Assistance Program. The parish hopes to get the rest of the needed funds from the state’s “Restore Act Fund,” made up of money from that part of the BP settlement that has already been paid.

Billy Nungesser on Cat Island holding a pelican bone three years after the BP oil spill, April 18, 2013© 2013 Julie Dermansky

Billy Nungesser, Plaquemines Parish president during the spill who is now running for lieutenant governor, had been famous for his fierce criticism of BP. But now it seems he’s changed his tune.

During a town hall meeting hosted by Rush Radio in St. Tammany Parish, where residents turned out to express their concerns about the possibility of the first fracking project in their area, Nungesser gushed over the great relationship Plaquemines Parish has with the oil industry, no longer singling out BP as a bad player as he had in the past.

Though he believes residents should have a say regarding what type of industry is welcomed in their community, he said oil companies that operate in his parish “do the right thing.”

Referencing the “horrible pictures of the pelicans covered in oil,” Nungesser claimed that in the case of “a safety incident or something spilling from a platform, every company has gone beyond the call of duty in our parish to make it right. Oil companies are rebuilding those islands.”

But Cat Island is a perfect example that Plaquemines Parish “has not been made whole,” according to Hahn. “BP was asked to contribute to rebuilding Cat Island multiple times,” Hahn said, “but they haven’t given anything to help the project.”

PJ Hahn photographing nesting pelicans on Cat Island two year after the BP oil spill. © 2012 Julie Dermansky

Cat Island was not mentioned in a BP report on the condition of the Gulf issued in March which paints a picture of the Gulf Coast on the mend. According to the report, “Available data does not indicate the spill caused any significant long-term population-level impact to species in the Gulf,” and “affected areas are recovering faster than predicted.”

State and federal agencies involved in the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) took issue with BP’s report.

“It is inappropriate as well as premature for BP to reach conclusions about impacts from the spill before the completion of the assessment,” an NRDA report states. NRDA will determine how much BP and its subcontractors owe for the environmental damages.

When asked what specifically BP has done to restore Cat Island, BP media spokesperson Jason Ryan sent out a statement about other coastal restoration projects the company has contributed to. BP agreed to pay for restoration projects in advance of NRDA’s assessment, which it was not required to do. Several of the projects are underway, but rebuilding Cat Island is not one of them.

The statement from BP points out: “The state loses about a football field worth of wetlands every hour,” and that “with regard to Cat Island specifically, it was rapidly eroding before the spill, primarily due to the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.”

Though BP wouldn’t give a “Yes” or “ No” as to whether it has contributed to rebuilding Cat Island, the company wrote: “We are studying shoreline erosion on marshes and barrier islands, including Cat Island, to determine if there was any acceleration due to the spill.”

The BP spill “totally accelerated” the erosion of Cat Island,” Linda Hooper Bui, an entomologist at Louisiana State University, told DeSmogBlog.

Bui has been working on studies of insect life in Barataria Bay that she began prior to the BP oil spill, making her a witness to the ongoing erosion process impacting the island. When plants are stressed they can’t hold on to sediment, she explained. And that is what happened when the oil covered the plant life on Cat Island. “You lose the mangrove, you lose the sediment,” Bui said.

“Heavily-oiled marshes erode at double the rate of a non-oiled marsh,” Melanie Driscoll, Director of Bird Conservation for the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi flyway for the Audubon Society, told DeSmogBlog, citing a scientific peer-reviewed study done after the BP spill.

“Every year there is a delay restoring the island, there is less area for nesting,” Driscoll said. ” We need restoration to proceed as soon as possible.”

David Muth, Gulf Coast Restoration Director for the National Wildlife Federation holds up a photo of what Cat Island looked like before the BP oil spill, while standing in front of the island on March 31, 2015. ©2015 Julie Dermansky

On March 31, a trip arranged by Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition gave members of the media a chance to document what little remains of Cat Island. The National Wildlife Federation, a key player in the coalition, released a report about the health of the Gulf five years after the spill that paints a completely different picture than BP’s.

The NWF report cites several scientific studies that document the negative impact the spill had on 20 different species, including the brown pelican, which were Cat Island’s main inhabitants.

“The tragedy is brown pelicans were taken off the endangered species list the year before the spill,” Hahn said. “If there is no habitat, there are no birds. Who knows if they will come back when we finally get the island rebuilt?”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 409 other followers