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

Archive for January, 2017|Monthly archive page

Study: Dramatic Acceleration In Global Loss Of Wild Forests

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2017 at 7:24 pm
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A forest in Laos, one of four countries in danger of losing all of their natural wild woodland within 20 years. Image: JakobErde via Flickr

Oldspeak: “And is the world listening? Probably not. The planet’s stock of natural wild woodland – the technical term is intact forest landscape – which protects biodiversity, stores carbon and manages the water supply, is dwindling.

A new study calculates that the area of intact forest landscape shrank over the first 13 years of this century by almost 1 million square kilometres, and the rate of loss has accelerated dramatically in the most recent three years.” –Tim Radford

“No the world is not listening. It’s not terribly important apparently that a major part of Earth’s life supporting ecology, is dwindling, and the rate of loss is accelerating. Most 1st world humans are really pissed off at Donald Trump right now… Stomping around in the streets about his inauguration & executive orders. Never mind that Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency  and National Park Service staff are all reportedly subject to gagging orders. Muslim are being banned! SMDH…. As is status quo, forests will continue to be destroyed on an industrial scale, for paper products, palm oil, & industrial agriculture. Profit is Paramount, consumption must continue to grow for this system to continue to function optimally. Unfortunately for us, that omnicidal imperative is incompatible with objective reality. “-OSJ

Written By Tim Radford @ Climate News Network:

Almost 1 million square kilometres of natural forest disappeared between the year 2000 and 2013, along with its ability to absorb carbon and reduce warming.

LONDON, 25 January, 2017 Here is how to turn a forest into a carbon-consuming machine that will help contain global warming. Leave it alone. Let it grow. Do not log it. It will sequester only so much carbon, but there are sure to be other benefits, according to some fresh thinking by a distinguished plant ecologist.

And is the world listening? Probably not. The planet’s stock of natural wild woodland – the technical term is intact forest landscape – which protects biodiversity, stores carbon and manages the water supply, is dwindling.

A new study calculates that the area of intact forest landscape shrank over the first 13 years of this century by almost 1 million square kilometres, and the rate of loss has accelerated dramatically in the most recent three years.

Research such as this is vital because, although the most visible attempts to reduce global warming and mitigate climate change depend on lowering greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion, there is another, parallel, approach: to limit the emissions that spring from land use change, chiefly by preserving natural forests.

Forest carbon

Christian Körner of the University of Basel in Switzerland argues in the journal Science that forest trees will sequester more atmospheric carbon than they release only while they stay alive.

Trees may grow faster in response to rising temperatures and the fertilising stimulus of more available carbon dioxide, but if the lifespan shrinks as a consequence, any gain will be shortlived.

So commercial plantations are not the answer. He and colleagues at Basel have already demonstrated that mature forests are intricate vegetable co-operatives that have devised intricate ways of sharing resources and managing nutrients.

Other studies have separately confirmed that old forest giants paradoxically store more carbon than young, fast-growing competitors, and that natural, highly diverse woodland is a better instrument for atmospheric carbon absorption.

“The most effective way to enhance forest carbon storage,” Professor Körner writes, “is to prevent logging old-growth forests and to extend the forested land area. Once these new forests reach their storage capacity, they will not sequester additional carbon, irrespective of how fast trees grow and turn over carbon.”

Intactness is hard to gain … That is why
intact landscapes should be treated as having
high (or even the highest) conservation value”

So to contain global warming, natural forests must be protected. But forest is being lost: burned, felled, or cleared for farmland or mineral extraction.

Scientists from the US, Russia, Germany and Canada report in Science Advances that they used satellite data to monitor changes from 2000 to 2013 in intact forest landscape.

They define this as “a seamless mosaic of forests and associated natural treeless ecosystems that exhibit no remotely detected signs of human activity or habitat fragmentation and are large enough to maintain all native biological diversity, including viable populations of wide-ranging species”.

And they found that these landscapes dwindled by 919,000 square kilometres over the first 13 years of this century. Altogether, at the beginning of the century, 65 countries could boast these intact forest landscapes.

Russia surrendered 179,000 sq km, Brazil 157,000 sq km and Canada 142,000 sq km: this alone added up to 52% of the total. Romania lost all its intact landscapes; Paraguay 79% of them.

Rate of loss

And, the scientists warn, if this rate of loss continues, Paraguay, Laos, Cambodia and Equatorial Guinea will lose all their intact forest landscapes within the next 20 years.

Logging was the principal agency of loss, and farming expansion came second. Palm oil plantation accounted for just 0.2% of the total loss. Fires linked to human action accounted for 21%. In Australia, 64% of loss could be linked to gold and other mineral exploitation.

The authors warn that the density of stored carbon in tropical climates was far greater in these intact forest landscapes than in the rest of the forest zone.

But these same intact landscapes can be “reduced very rapidly, in a matter of months and years, by increased fragmentation and access, even without changes in tree canopy cover.

On the other hand, intactness is hard to gain, at least within a short time span. That is why intact landscapes should be treated as having high (or even the highest) conservation value.” Climate News Network

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“We are running out of time…”Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Orangutans — Our Great Ape Cousins Teeter On The Precipice Of Extinction

In Uncategorized on January 25, 2017 at 7:34 pm
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An assessment of 504 primate species found that 60 percent are on track toward extinction, and 75 percent are decreasing in number. There are roughly 900 remaining mountain gorillas (pictured) on Earth. (Photo: SharonGraySalmons / Flickr)

Oldspeak: “America’s Resident Oranguntan-in-Chief should be paying attention but is probably more concerned with his inauguration crowd size. SO yeah. That’s happening. Lifeforms that share 98% of our DNA are going fucking extinct. If that’s not a canary in the coal mine keeling over I don’t know what is.  We humans are enveloped in this sick delusion that we are somehow exempt from the laws of nature. Not subject to the laws of physics or thermodynamics. But the reality is pretty clear cut. We cannot go on destroying habitat and hunting to extinction other lifeforms indefinitely. There are only so many here. Their habitat is our habitat. Our fates are connected. We cannot go on consuming and poisoning organic biomass, that exists in finite amounts, faster than it can be replenished. “Since the 1970s, humanity has been in ecological overshoot, with annual demand on resources exceeding what Earth can regenerate each year. Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.6 Earths to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year. We use more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than forests can sequester.” Our continued willful ignorance of the natural order of this Life giving Great Mother of ours will likely bring about our demise sooner than we know it.” -OSJ

Written By John C. Cannon @ Mongabay:

Gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans — our great ape cousins teeter on the precipice of extinction. And it’s not much of a secret that we humans have had a lot to do with putting them there.

But what about the other primates? The news isn’t much better, it turns out.

According to a new study, 60 percent of primates — including drills and gibbons, lemurs and tarsiers, bush babies and spider monkeys — face the threat of extinction. Even those not in immediate danger of dying out are at risk, as the numbers of three-quarters of all primate species are trending downward.

“The figures suggest that we may be reaching a tipping point or perhaps we are already there,” said Alejandro Estrada, lead author of the study and a senior research scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, in an email to Mongabay. He and 30 other primatologists published their research in the journal Science Advances.

Estrada said that he and fellow author Paul Garber of the University of Illinois noticed that, for all the research on specific primates in specific areas, what was missing was a broader understanding of conservation and threats for all primates.

But that’s not an easy undertaking. Primates are a huge and diverse group with 504 species by the authors’ count. The only other mammal orders with more species are the bats and the rodents.

The team began by pulling together information from published research, the IUCN Red List, and UN databases to puzzle out where primate populations are headed and why.

2017.1.24.Apes.1

Pied tamarins (Saguinus bicolor), which are listed as endangered by the IUCN, are restricted to around 900,000 hectares of habitat around Manaus, Brazil — an area that has seen significant land cover change over the past decade. Data from the University of Maryland and visualized on Global Forest Watch show the region lost around 6 percent of its tree cover between 2001 and 2014, and its Intact Forest Landscapes — areas undisturbed and large enough to retain their native biodiversity — are fragmented and degrading. (Photo by Stavenn via Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0) / Range approximated based on data from the IUCN)

The researchers tabulated the threats, statuses and conservation efforts for primates in 90 countries across Central and South America, Asia, mainland Africa, and Madagascar.

“What was surprising from our global analysis is that many species in the four regions are threatened and a higher number have their populations declining,” Estrada said.

For example, nearly 90 percent of Madagascar’s more than 100 primate species are threatened.

Apes in Asia aren’t faring much better, as anyone who studies orangutans will attest. Around 73 percent of primates there face an uncertain future, and the global demand for palm oil has pushed the two species of orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus and Pongo abelii) to the brink of extinction in Southeast Asia.

The statistics for primates in the Americas and continental Africa are marginally less dire as a whole. A little more than a third are considered threatened. But hidden in those figures are extreme cases, like the roughly 900 remaining mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei).

Monkeys and apes in Africa and Central and South America face the same increasing dangers that have driven down numbers elsewhere in the world. At the top of the list is the expansion of agriculture, which threatens 76 percent of all species worldwide, the researchers write.

Between 1990 and 2010, we humans took over around 1.5 million hectares (about 5,790 square miles) for farming — three times the size of France. And forest cover loss, which is critical habitat for many primates, was even greater at 2 million hectares (7,722 square miles), according to the study.

Logging and ranching have also opened up huge areas that were once primate domain.

And it’s not just the complete destruction of ecosystems that causes problems. When pastures, farms and plantations wedge into primate territory, it can leave groups of the same species on increasingly disconnected islands of livable space. The authors report that we’ve carved up — or fragmented — almost half the world’s tropical forests and 58 percent of its subtropical forests.

“Ultimately, the biggest threat is loss of habitat, without a doubt,” said Martha Robbins, a primatologist at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who was not involved in the research. “I don’t think it should be a surprise to anybody that, with increasing human population growth and increasing human consumption, we are just using more and more habitat.”

Robbins praised the extent of the research, adding, “It does an excellent job of summarizing the state of primate conservation.”

In particular, she was happy to see that the team had teased apart not only the direct causes leading toward the extinction of certain primates, such as hunting, which threatens 60 percent of primates (and many other mammal species). They also drilled down to the underlying causes for those activities, such as the pervasive human poverty often found around areas where primates live.

With that framework, the authors put forth more than a dozen potential approaches that could help staunch primate declines, ranging from lowering the market demands in richer countries that enable the trade of primates to campaigns aimed at the next generation on the importance of protecting these animals.

“Deforestation, unsustainable hunting and illegal trade could be rapidly addressed via education programs applicable to children, young adults and adults,” Estrada said.

2017.1.24.Apes.2

The Udzungwa red colobus monkey (Piliocolobus gordonorum) is restricted to Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountains and is listed by the IUCN as Endangered due primarily to habitat loss. According to data from the University of Maryland, its range lost around 4.5 percent of its tree cover from 2001 through 2014, and the area’s dense forest appears fragmented in satellite imagery. (Photo by Stavage via Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0) / Range approximated based on data from the IUCN)

But it can’t be just a one-off investment, he said. “This approach would need to be continuous over the long-term, rather than being a short-term effort.”

Robbins pointed out the paradox with many of these keys to protecting primates.

“In some ways, the solutions are extremely easy,” she said. “Don’t chop down the forest, stop illegal trade in animals, find ways of reducing disease.

“All of the solutions in and of themselves are very obvious. It’s just implementing them and really making a change is what is so difficult.”

The study also revealed that for many primates, data is scarce, Estrada said. Even now, scientists are still coming across undiscovered species, like the recently unveiled Skywalker gibbon (Hoolock tianxing), a mountain-dwelling ape that lives in China and Myanmar.

“Our arsenal of scientific knowledge on the natural history, ecology, behavior and biology for most primate species is particularly poor,” Estrada said. “There is an urgent need for many more field studies to gain a clear understanding of species flexibility when faced with anthropogenic threats.”

A big question mark for primatologists is how their study subjects will respond to climate change. In a step toward finding some answers, Estrada and his colleagues compiled a phylogenetic analysis of 340 primates — the largest-ever look at the underlying connections between primate species ever undertaken.

“Usually, closely related species share aspects of their basic biology, such as body size, reproductive physiology, diet, behavior and even geographic distribution,” Estrada said. “Such relatedness may make species sensitive to, for example…natural shifts in the distribution of their habitats, or to human pressures resulting in habitat reduction or loss, hunting, [or] climate change.”

Based on these connections, scientists may be able to use what they know about one species to predict how a threat might impact another.

“Due to their low population numbers and the intensity of threats, we may soon have a cascade of human-driven primate species extinctions,” Estrada said. The new research underscores an urgent need for more nuanced understanding of primates, while at the same time addressing the barrage of pressures we humans level at them.

Estrada said he’s optimistic about our chances of success, but he remains realistic: “We are running out of time for much of this.”

CITATIONS:

  • Estrada, A., Garber, P. A., Rylands, A. B., Roos, C., Fernandez-Duque, E., Di Fiore, A., … Li, B. (2017). Impending extinction crisis of the world’s primates: Why primates matter. Science Advances, 3(1). Retrieved from http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/1/e1600946.abstract
  • Greenpeace, University of Maryland, World Resources Institute and Transparent World. “Intact Forest Landscapes. 2000/2013” Accessed through Global Forest Watch on January 18, 2017. http://www.globalforestwatch.org
  • Hansen, M. C., P. V. Potapov, R. Moore, M. Hancher, S. A. Turubanova, A. Tyukavina, D. Thau, S. V. Stehman, S. J. Goetz, T. R. Loveland, A. Kommareddy, A. Egorov, L. Chini, C. O. Justice, and J. R. G. Townshend. 2013. “High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change.” Science 342 (15 November): 850–53. Data available on-line from: http://earthenginepartners.appspot.com/science-2013-global-forest. Accessed through Global Forest Watch on January 18, 2017. http://www.globalforestwatch.org

 

 

“We’re anticipating an acceleration of temperature changes on a multi-decadal time scale”: NASA Data Shows Global Warming Accelerating Over Next 20 Years

In Uncategorized on January 23, 2017 at 2:07 pm

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Oldspeak: “While The Big Cheeto instructs his minions to do away with all references to climate change on the WhiteHouse.gov webpage, Our Great Mother gives ZERO FUCKS. Our Girl is likely to be pumpin up the volume BIGLY over the the course of the next 20 years. This, In the wake of news that 2016 marked the 3rd straight hottest year ever; a period of extreme global temperature rise that has the world’s atmosphere and oceans are now hotter than they’ve been in at least the past 100,000 years.  Get set to fry kids!” -OSJ

Written By Brian Johnston @ U.K. Independent:

The idea that global warming “paused” has been comprehensively refuted by the record warm temperatures over the last three years – and the rate of increase could soon start to accelerate, a leading Nasa scientist has warned.

Dr Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said some people had been “confused” by temperatures that were below the average rate of increase, mistaking what was simply a blip as the sign of a long-term trend.

But the last three years have each seen successive, record average global temperatures, according to Nasa’s figures, partly fuelled by the natural El Nino effect, but mostly because of human-induced climate change.

This, Dr Schmidt said, was “almost certainly” just another blip as random factors take temperatures above the average rising trend, which remains virtually the same as it has since the late 1990s.

But he also said the rising amount of energy being put into the atmosphere and oceans as a result of greenhouse gas emissions had led scientists to believe the pace of global warming would get faster over the next decades.

Writing on the Real Climate website, Dr Schmidt asked himself whether he had to “mention the ‘pause’”.

“Apparently yes,” he said. “The last three years have demonstrated abundantly clearly that there is no change in the long-term trends since 1998.

“A prediction from 1997 merely continuing the linear trends would significantly under-predict the last two years.

“The difference isn’t yet sufficient to state that the trends are accelerating, but that might not be too far off.”

He said it was perfectly reasonable for scientists to analyse variations in climate on a yearly basis.

But he added that the figures “should serve as a reminder that short-term variations should not be conflated with long-term trends. One is not predictive of the other”.

Speaking to The Independent, Dr Schmidt said discussions about annual changes in temperature before the record warmth of the last three years had been exploited by some in a reference to those known as “sceptics” or “deniers”.

“None of them are going to be jumping up and saying ‘look how much it’s warmed since 2014’, none of them are going to say that,” he said.

“The whole thing was somewhat delusional from the beginning.

“It’s not that today is warmer than yesterday or this year is warmer than last year. It’s the long-term trend – that’s what we’re talking about.

“So this notion that global warming has stopped was bunk from the start.”

While he said the recent high temperatures were equally likely to be statistical noise, studies of how much extra energy is being absorbed by the atmosphere and particularly the oceans suggest global warming is going to gather pace over the next 20 years or so.

“The fact there’s more energy coming into the system than is leaving, we think that’s increasing over time,” Dr Schmidt said.

“The larger that difference gets, the faster we think things will warm. We’re anticipating an acceleration of temperature changes on a multi-decadal time scale.”

 

G20 Agriculture Ministers Seek To Protect Dwindling Water Supplies

In Uncategorized on January 23, 2017 at 1:29 pm

People arrive for the G20 agriculture ministers meeting in Berlin

Oldspeak:”We commit to approaches that improve sustainability of water use in food and agricultural production while ensuring food security and nutrition in accordance with our multilateral trade commitmentsWe will protect water and water-related ecosystems by encouraging water-friendly, sustainable agricultural practices and technologies that enhance the water quality and resilience of water bodiesWe are therefore committed to developing and implementing corresponding strategies at the national level.” -G20 Statement, 1/22/2017

“This my friends is a prime example of Orwellian doublespeak. Sustainable water use is  impossible in a system of unsustainable and ecologically incompatible agricultural production. Food security for all, particularly the worlds poorest, cannot be ensured while “multilateral trade commitments” that create conditions for inequitable and “market-based” distribution of resources are honored. Water cannot be protected while ecosystem killing dams are built. Water cannot be protected while pollution from towns and cities, industry and agriculture directly affect water supplies for people and freshwater ecosystems. Water cannot be protected while oil pipelines crisscross and fracked gas wells are drilled into and around the Earth’s watersheds, poisoning them irreparably. Water cannot be conserved with this many humans on the planet, throwing the ecology further out of balance with each fresh-faced baby born. Water bodies cannot be made more resilient as we use our oceans & rivers for waste dumping grounds. But yes, let our grand exalted & eminent agriculture ministers expend more carbon and resources to continue pontificating disingenuously about protecting water. Such bullshit. Enjoy the Kabuki Theater! ” -OSJ

Written By Michael Hogan @ Reuters:

Greater global efforts should be taken to safeguard precious world water supplies to secure food production, the agriculture ministers of the group of 20 leading economies (G20) said on Sunday.

“We commit to approaches that improve sustainability of water use in food and agricultural production while ensuring food security and nutrition in accordance with our multilateral trade commitments,” they said in a statement after meeting in Berlin.

Climate change, the growing world population and demands for industrialization have put a strain on global water supplies, with the impact felt on rich and poor nations.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation warned in December that 12 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia need food aid as farmers struggle with the impact of repeated droughts, compelling Ethiopia to make major wheat imports.

Saudi Arabia has been ending its crop farming to save precious water and has been importing food instead.

“We will protect water and water-related ecosystems by encouraging water-friendly, sustainable agricultural practices and technologies that enhance the water quality and resilience of water bodies,” the G20 statement on Sunday said.

“We are therefore committed to developing and implementing corresponding strategies at the national level,” it added.

Global farming needs sustainable water supplies to feed the growing world population and provide the basis for world peace and stability, the meeting’s host, German agriculture minister Christian Schmidt, said.

“Agriculture is a part of global security politics,” he said.

The G20 ministers also committed themselves to reducing animal diseases but to prevent the unnecessary use of antibiotic drugs in farming.

Germany took over the presidency of the G20 group of leading economies in late 2016, a platform Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to use to safeguard multilateral cooperation.

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)

Mocking, Marching, Stopping The Hate And Dumping Trump Are Not Enough

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Oldspeak: #StopTheHate. #DumpTrump. #BeUngovernable. #StopTrump and #NotMyPresident and most of the meme stashes and joke repositories do not scare the STATE because they offer no door for people to recognize, let alone question the system, nor the personalities it throws up.

If we aim to build a movement that cannot be co-opted by Democrats again and again, our hashtags, memes and messages have to educate our people, not just eviscerate Trump. Sure denouncing and hitting the streets to make fun of Big Cheeto is just that. It’s fun, and maybe theraputic too. But as good as they make us feel, storms of ridicule failed to drive Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush from office, and our scorn of Reagan didn’t prevent two presidents Bush or Clinton either. Our mocking of “W” didn’t hold Obama accountable either.

Big protests, especially the permitted kind that take place on weekends, marching through canyons of empty office buildings, sometime with hilarious puppets, some of us being chased by police are routine, almost traditional pageantry by now. Mass protests don’t have magical powers. Ten million people hit the streets the weeks before Bush unleashed bombs over Baghdad, and those bombs still fell. Even street actions without permits are not going to trigger anything like general strikes and uprisings. We just are not there yet…

These are the limitations of #StopHateDumpTrump and a hundred other hashtags, petitions and meme stashes. Donald Trump is already the most unpopular president in US history, and he hasn’t even been sworn in. Fixating on Trump’s despicable statements and personal history doesn’t help us target the system that produced him and the next ones after him.” –Bruce A. Dixon

“BEHOLD! The Grand and Fantabulous Illusion Of Participation! On display, around the world, in all it’s majesty and pageantry replete with celebrity appearances! In what amounts to a ginormous transnational 2 Minutes Hate, the disgruntled proles have gathered en masse in the streets with the gracious authorization of the vicious state that brutalizes and dominates them, to march, scream and yell for a few hours, bloviate about hope, people power, voting, resistance, “The Movement”, civil rights & Women’s rights, gleefully consuming incalculable amounts of precious and dwindling resources for commemorative T-Shirts, “Pussy Hats” and protest signs galore, then cheerfully return to their homes to participate in the same omnicidal system that is destroying us and our Great Mother. I  just heard a reporter say “They had to cancel the march part of the march in chicago because there were too many people.” Exactly. This is manufactured dissent par excellence. This event is a perfect example of what Chomsky said:

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”

“While “protest” is encouraged and authorized by the state, the spectrum of dissent allowed is limited to Trump.  The system that begat him, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan and the other corprocratic system managers before them is not questioned. Except by those labeled, “radical”, “communist”, “anarchist”, “dissident”, “conspiracy theorist” etc, etc, etc…. Those whose opinions fall outside the acceptable spectrum. And They are generally ignored & ridiculed. Thank You Mr. Dixon. My sentiments EXACTLY. ‘Ignorance Is Strength.'” -OSJ

Written By Bruce A. Dixon @ Black Agenda Report:

#StopTheHate. #DumpTrump. #BeUngovernable. #StopTrump #NotMyPresident – as if any of them ever was. Show up and show out in DC this week, or in your own home town. If there’s no march or demo near you, get on social media (and the phone) and organize one. Sure. We at Black Agenda Report are down with all that. It’s pretty much necessary. But dumping Trump and stopping the hate are far from sufficient. Why?

Our brother and friend Cornel West published a piece last week that spelled out the popular fallacy. He was talking about Obama, but he could have meant the next president too. Cornel said that “character is destiny,” as if we were ruled by replaceable characters rather than a replaceable system.

The truth is that if Hillary was being sworn in Friday instead of Big Cheeto we’d still be spending half the nation’s wealth yearly on a murderous global military empire with over a thousand overseas bases. We’d still be bombing seven countries and operating networks of global torture, kidnapping and secret prisons. If Hillary was president the US would still have the two biggest air forces on the planet, the first being the USAF, the second being the US Navy.

#StopTheHate. #DumpTrump. #BeUngovernable. #StopTrump and #NotMyPresident and most of the meme stashes and joke repositories do not scare the Pentagon because they offer no door for people to recognize, let alone question the system, not the personalities it throws up. They DO allow the lazy and credulous among us to imagine as Democrats tell us, that “character is destiny,” and Democratic operatives to reinforce that message.

But if a Democrat were installed in the White House till 2020 the black unemployment rate would be about the same as it’s been the last half century, about double the white rate. If a Democrat were in the White House hundreds of thousands with full time jobs would still be homeless and millions more an arbitrary paycheck from it. If a Democrat were in the White House we’d still have 2 million plus people in prisons and jails, mostly black and brown, and gentrification of inner cities and privatization of public education and public resources would continue apace. Big Pharma and Big Insurance, military contractors and corporate media monopolies and parasitic hedge funders would get still fatter off privatized nature, racketeering and theft of the commons.

#StopTheHate. #DumpTrump. #BeUngovernable. #StopTrump and #NotMyPresident don’t scare the Democrat billionaires who who backed Clinton or the Republican ones behind Trump. None of them offer ordinary people a handle to recognize the capitalist system as the problem rather than the despicable character of Donald Trump.

If somebody other than Trump were being sworn in the banksters who targeted millions of low income families with predatory loans and were rewarded with bailouts while the homeowners got millions of evictions – thieves would still be too big to fail or jail. Median black family wealth, as consequence of the housing meltdown fell from a tenth to a twentieth the median for white families. Thousands of water shutoffs per week would continue in Detroit, Baltimore and other places. #StopTrump and marches with big puppets don’t encourage us to remember any of that.

Nearly 95% of all the jobs created in the Obama era were part time and/or without benefits. Does anybody believe Hillary “America is already great!” Clinton has any problem with that? Employers steal more of workers wages than the total of all armed robberies, and annually force millions of workers to declare themselves “independent contractors” ineligible for unemployment and other benefits, and not counted among the unemployed when their jobs end or they are fired. That’s one of the reasons the White House can claim a phony 4.5% unemployment rate when only 66% of the eligible workforce is employed and the real rate may be in the 20-25% range.

#StopTheHate. #DumpTrump. #BeUngovernable. #StopTrump and #NotMyPresident don’t invite us to dive into any of the crimes committed by Democrats, only into the character of Trump. Even #SaveOurHealthCare allows Democrats to pretend that the Affordable Care Act was NOT a blanket full of holes that offered skimpy expensive insurance NOT health care to only half the uninsured and fat subsidies to Big Insurance and Big Pharma. It doesn’t lead us to fight for #SinglePayer which Obamacare was actually engineered to prevent.

Ridicule Is Not Enough.

If we aim to build a movement that cannot be co-opted by Democrats again and again, our hashtags, memes and messages have to educate our people, not just eviscerate Trump. Sure denouncing and hitting the streets to make fun of Big Cheeto is just that. It’s fun, and maybe theraputic too. But as good as they make us feel, storms of ridicule failed to drive Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush from office, and our scorn of Reagan didn’t prevent two presidents Bush or Clinton either. Our mocking of “W” didn’t hold Obama accountable either.

Big protests, especially the permitted kind that take place on weekends, marching through canyons of empty office buildings, sometime with hilarious puppets, some of us being chased by police are routine, almost traditional pageantry by now. Mass protests don’t have magical powers. Ten million people hit the streets the weeks before Bush unleashed bombs over Baghdad, and those bombs still fell. Even street actions without permits are not going to trigger anything like general strikes and uprisings. We just are not there yet. And even Hillary Clinton has learned how to use the word “intersectionality” in a sentence.

These are the limitations of #StopHateDumpTrump and a hundred other hashtags, petitions and meme stashes. Donald Trump is already the most unpopular president in US history, and he hasn’t even been sworn in. Fixating on Trump’s despicable statements and personal history doesn’t help us target the system that produced him and the next ones after him.

Worst of all are Democrat stooges, especially black ones like John Lewis and Donna Brazile, who claim without need of any proof, that the Russians hacked the presidential election to install the Donald. These folks are clearly fronting for another, equally reprehensible faction of the US ruling elite, one that knows it can make a lot more money off a cold or hot war with Russia than they do off the shadowy “war against terror.”

It’s crystal clear that Democrats need us to limit ourselves to throwing figurative and personalized rocks at Big Cheeto. When Democrats focus on impeachable offenses they trot out his conflicts of interest, but not the mass surveillance state, the drone wars and the many other offenses he will share in common with Democratic occupants of the White House.

So while mocking Donald Trump is big fun, just like it was with Reagan and “Dubya” Bush, we gotta go deeper. If we aim to change the system and not just the personalities, our hashtags, memes, activism and messaging must do more than just mock the persons and selected stands Trump and his minions. We have to attack the positions he shares with Democrats. Ridicule is indispensable, but targeting persons doesn’t change systems. We need to educate while we eviscerate. If we can’t do that, we’re just warming up crowds for Corey Booker or the next Democrat.

It ’s just #NotEnuff2DumpTrump

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and co-chair of the GA Green party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com

Study Finds Northeast U.S. Is Warming Much Faster Than Global Average, Could Be At Dangerous 2C Threshold 2 Decades Before Rest Of The World

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2017 at 2:48 pm

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Oldspeak: “UMass geosciences professor Raymond Bradley, an author on the study, said this benchmark lulls many “into a false sense of security, thinking that the 2-degrees C target is somehow a ‘safe’ limit for climate change.”

“But the 2°C number is a global average, and many regions will warm more, and warm more rapidly, than the earth as a whole,” he said in a statement. “Our study shows that the northeast United States is one of those regions where warming will proceed very rapidly, so that if and when the global target is reached, we will already be experiencing much higher temperatures, with all of the related ecological, hydrological and agricultural consequences.

“Our Great Mother, it seems is not without a sense of Irony. The Cradle of Globalized Industrial Civilization where its most toxic fuel, what many native people see as our Great Mother’s blood, crude oil was first extracted on an industrial scale, will burn first. Fitting  then, that Natural Justice is served most expediently here.” -OSJ

Written By Ari Phillips @ Fusion Media:

A new study by researchers at the UMass Amherst Northeast Climate Science Center (NECSC) suggests that temperatures in their neck of the woods will increase much faster than the global average. Published in PLOS ONE, the study found that temperatures across the northeastern United States could reach the critical 2-degrees Celsius warming threshold up to two decades before the rest of the world does.

The Paris Agreement, which was ratified late last year and which President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to undermine, calls for the global community to limit temperature rise to 2°C (3.6°F), and even 1.5°C (1.8°F) if possible.

UMass geosciences professor Raymond Bradley, an author on the study, said this benchmark lulls many “into a false sense of security, thinking that the 2-degrees C target is somehow a ‘safe’ limit for climate change.”

“But the 2°C number is a global average, and many regions will warm more, and warm more rapidly, than the earth as a whole,” he said in a statement. “Our study shows that the northeast United States is one of those regions where warming will proceed very rapidly, so that if and when the global target is reached, we will already be experiencing much higher temperatures, with all of the related ecological, hydrological and agricultural consequences.”

According to the climate models used by Bradley and NECSC postdoctoral researcher Ambarish Karmalkar, the contiguous United States—the lower 48—is projected to cross the 2°C warming threshold about 10 to 20 years earlier than the global mean annual temperature. The Northeast is projected to warm by 3°C (5.2°F) by the time global warming reaches 2°C (3.6°F).

“Although there is uncertainty in the timing of exactly when the 1.5 and 2°C thresholds will be crossed regionally, over 80% of the models project at least 2°C warming by 2050 for all regions for the high emissions scenario,” they write.

They also note that regional precipitation projections for the eastern U.S. under a warmer climate anticipate wetter winters.

Many studies consider the 2°C target of global warming to be overly optimistic as global emissions are still tracking to high-end plausible scenarios, according to the researchers. One recent study found that the 2°C target won’t be met unless clean technologies are developed and implemented at rates 10 times faster than in the past.

Even if countries do meet their pledges under the Paris Agreement, a recent United Nations report found that warming of between 2.9°C to 3.4°C—or up to 6.1°F—is likely by the end of the century if countries don’t commit to cutting another quarter off predicted 2030 greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, significant warming is already here. The world recently passed the 1°C threshold, and the average global temperature for large parts of 2016 approached the 1.5°C warming threshold agreed to by COP 21 negotiators.

Last year was the second warmest on record in the U.S.— only 2012 was warmer.

“The breadth of the 2016 warmth is unparalleled in the nation’s climate history,” NOAA said in a statement about the news. “No other year had as many states breaking or close to breaking their warmest annual average temperature.”

Maybe if the Northeast gets warm enough soon enough, the steadfast climate change deniers in the region will start to be swayed by the local empirical evidence, since not much else seems to have an impact.

For now, the U.S. is bogged down in confirmation hearings that highlight how low a priority climate change is for the incoming Cabinet and the Trump administration as a whole. On Wednesday, Trump’s pick for secretary of state, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, said the risk of climate change does exist, but he dramatically played down the potential consequences.

Tillerson employed a common climate change denier tactic of placing the blame on climate scientists, saying we (they) have a “very limited” ability to predict what is happening to the planet’s climate due to our emissions. With studies like this one on local U.S. temperature changes, scientists are doing their best to predict human impact on the planet. As part of the process, they acknowledge any inherent uncertainty of their research right there in the studies themselves. To brush aside their findings as inconclusive and irrelevant is to insult the scientific process and to ignore reality.

 

“The scale of the global extinction crisis may be even greater than we thought.”: Giraffes Facing Extinction, Eastern Gorilla, Whale Shark Moving Closer To Extinction.

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2017 at 1:59 pm
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Four giraffe species: top left: reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), top right: west African giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta), bottom right: Masai giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi), bottom left: Angolan giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis). Composite: Alamy and Getty Images

Oldspeak: “The natural world is in the midst of a mass extinction as wild places are destroyed by conversion to farmland, mining and pollution, and animals are hunted in huge numbers. In October, a major analysis found the number of wild creatures was on track to fall by two-thirds by 2020, compared to 1970. Recent red list updates have found the eastern Gorilla and whale shark moving closer to extinction…” –Damian Carrington

“Sad days are upon us friends. Some of the most recognizable and beautiful natives of our our mother continent, Giraffes, Gorillas, Rhinos, Lions, will soon be no more. Add these to the ever growing list of casualties of humanities’ War On Life. The Death Machine that is Industrial Civilization is grinding away much of Life in its way. Destruction of the wild habitats of other lifeforms is an essential function of our machine. It does it every day. Expect the pace of Earth’s 6th and fastest progressing mass extinction to accelerate as these functions continue.

I read a brilliant strategy we could employ to withdraw our support for the functioning of this omnicidal death machine:

The most effective way of opposing capitalism and the liberal state is not by direct confrontation, but by means of what Paulo Virno has called “engaged withdrawal“, mass defection by those wishing to create new forms of community. One need only glance at the historical record to confirm that the most successful forms of popular resistance have taken precisely this form. They have not involved challenging power head on (this usually leads to being slaughtered, or if not, turning into some – often uglier – variant of the very thing one first challenged) but from one or another strategy of slipping away from its grasp, from flight, desertion, the founding of new communities… Which leads to the question of how to neutralize the state apparatus itself, in the absence of a politics of direct confrontation. No doubt some states and corporate elites will collapse of their own dead weight; a few already have; but it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which they all do… What cannot be destroyed can nonetheless, be diverted, frozen, transformed and gradually deprived of its substance – which in the case of states is its capacity to inspire terror. What would this mean under contemporary conditions? It’s not entirely clear. Perhaps existing state apparati will gradually be reduced to window-dressing as the substance is pulled out of them from above and below: i.e.both from the growth of international institutions, and from devolution to local and regional forms of self-governance. Perhaps government by media spectacle will devolve into spectacle pure and simple (somewhat along the lines of what Paul Lafargue, Marx’s West-Indian son-in-law and author of “The Right To Be Lazy“, implied when he suggested that after the revolution, politicians would still be able to fulfill a useful social function in the entertainment industry). More likely it will happen in ways we cannot even anticipate. But no doubt there are ways in which it is happening already.  As Neoliberal states move towards new forms of feudalism, concentrating their guns increasingly around gated communities, insurrectionary spaces open up that we don’t even know about. Many would-be revolutionaries do not understand  that there are times when the stupidest thing one could possibly do is raise a red or black flag and issue defiant declarations. Sometimes the sensible thing is just to pretend nothing has changed, allow official state representatives to keep their dignity, even show up at their offices and fill out a form now and then, but otherwise ignore them.  –David Graber, “Fragments Of An Anarchist Anthropology”

” OOOOF. Imagine how different things would be if we employed en masse, engaged withdrawl, mass defection, slipped away from the grasp of the death cult that is Industrial Civilization… Formed our own local & regional self governing interdependent communities animated with what Bell Hooks describes as a “Love Ethic“… We could go out with a lot more Love, grace, humility and respect, couldn’t we?

There are glimmers of possibility though. A careful look around would reveal that much of what is described by Mr. Graeber is already happening at this moment. Nearly half of Americans opted out of Presidential Election spectacle/reality show, opposing the state by non-participation in that Kabuki Theater. Substance is being pulled out of state apparati from above and below in a variety of ways. People are finding ways to slip away from the grasp of states. Creating their own self-governed local communities, co-ops, etc, becoming less fearful of not living state-sanctioned lives at the mercy of clocks, bosses, schedules and other structures of domination. Hopefully, this trend will continue. “-OSJ

 

Written By Damian Carrington @ U.K. Guardian:

The world’s tallest animal is at risk of extinction after suffering a devastating decline in numbers, with nearly 40% of giraffes lost in the last 30 years, according to the latest “red list” analysis.

The authoritative list, compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has also added more than 700 newly recognised bird species, but 13 of these are already extinct.

It says wild relatives of important food crops, such as mangoes and sunflowers, are now in danger of extinction, cutting the ability to safeguard food supplies by breeding new varieties resilient to drought and disease.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/charts/embed/dec/2016-12-07T15:38:43/embed.html

But there is a little hopeful news in the list as well with the rediscovery of a few species thought to have been lost, such a Madagascan freshwater fish which had not been seen since the 1960s, and the recovery of the Seychelles white-eye bird after conservation efforts.

The natural world is in the midst of a mass extinction as wild places are destroyed by conversion to farmland, mining and pollution, and animals are hunted in huge numbers. In October, a major analysis found the number of wild creatures was on track to fall by two-thirds by 2020, compared to 1970. Recent red list updates have found the eastern Gorilla and whale shark moving closer to extinction, while the prospects of the giant panda are improving.

The number of species assessed by the red list now totals more than 85,000, with more than 24,000 at risk of extinction, but many more species remain unstudied. “Many species are slipping away before we can even describe them,” said Inger Andersen, IUCN’s director general.

“This red list update shows that the scale of the global extinction crisis may be even greater than we thought,” she said. “Governments gathered at the UN biodiversity summit [at which the update will be presented on Thursday] have the immense responsibility to step up their efforts to protect our planet’s biodiversity – not just for its own sake but for human imperatives such as food security and sustainable development.”

Giraffes grazing in the Nairobi national park
Giraffes grazing in the Nairobi national park. Photograph: Grayling Kenya Photo/Stuart Price/MEAACT Kenya

The new red list found the giraffe population had plummeted from about 157,000 to 97,500 in the last 30 years and the species had jumped two IUCN categories from “least concern” to now “vulnerable”. As the human population in Africa rises, habitat loss from farming and deforestation, illegal hunting and the impact of civil wars are all pushing the creature towards extinction.

“Whilst giraffes are commonly seen on safari, in the media and in zoos, people – including conservationists – are unaware that these majestic animals are undergoing a silent extinction,” said Julian Fennessy, co-chair of the IUCN’s giraffe and okapi specialist group. “It is timely that we stick our neck out for the giraffe before it is too late,” he said.

Sir David Attenborough said in June: “These gentle giants have been overlooked. It’s well known that African elephants are in trouble and there are perhaps just under half a million left. But what no one realised is there are far fewer giraffes, which have already become extinct in seven countries.”

The updated red list also includes a reassessment of all bird species, bringing the number analysed to over 11,000. More than 700 of the species were newly recognised, including the Antioquia wren from Colombia which was listed as endangered because more than half of its habitat could be destroyed by a single planned dam.

Thirteen of the newly listed bird species are already extinct, including the Pagan reed warbler, having been wiped out by predators such as snakes introduced to their island homes. “As our knowledge deepens, so our concerns are confirmed: unsustainable agriculture, logging, invasive species and other threats – such as illegal trade – are still driving many species towards extinction,” said Ian Burfield, global science coordinator at BirdLife.

The African grey parrot is one of the species at grave risk from hunting as it is prized as a talkative and long-living pet. In some regions, numbers have plunged by 99% but all international trade in the bird was banned in October. The cage bird trade in Asia is also driving many feathered species towards extinction, including the spectacular sunset lorikeet.

An African grey parrot flock in Lango Bai, Odzala-Kokoua national park
African grey parrots in Odzala-Kokoua national park, the Republic of the Congo. The species is at risk from hunting for the pet trade. Photograph: Pete Oxford/Minden Pictures/Alamy

However, conservation efforts are cutting the risk to some of the rarest birds on Earth, including the Seychelles white-eye, which was once thought to be extinct but now numbers about 500 thanks to reintroduction programmes.

The new red list includes, for the first time, assessments of 233 wild relatives of crop plants. It found many were threatened by the expansion of farms into wild areas. The wild relatives are a crucial source of genetic material for breeding new varieties that can withstand climate change and pests and which may be needed to help feed the world’s fast-growing population.

Mangoes are a vital crop around the tropics but scientists found four wild mango species are endangered – the Kalimantan mango has already become extinct. Also in trouble are wild relatives of the sunflower, such as the Anomalus sunflower, the chickpea and asparagus. “This only erodes future options for new crop resources under changing climates,” said Thomas Lacher Jr from Texas A&M University.

Kalimantan mango (Mangifera casturi).
The Kalimantan mango (M angifera casturi) has already become extinct. Photograph: TopTropicals.com/IUCN

Separate new research lays bare the influence of humanity in transforming the planet, with scientists finding that over 50% of the world’s land area is now dominated by human activity, with 9% of this change happening in the last 25 years alone.

While 1.7m sq miles (4.4m sq km) of wild habitat was lost in the last 25 years, the researchers found that protected areas increased by 2.7m sq miles, almost doubling to cover 14% of all land.

But the protected areas are often not in the most vital regions, said James Watson of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Queensland. “Nations tend to place protected areas in remote locations, where nobody else is vying to convert the land. This does not help save threatened biodiversity and we must urgently start placing new protected areas in places that will be destroyed without conservation action.”

 

”Unprecedented” Polar Melting &”Global Weirding” Intensifies As Climate Disruption Denial Goes Wild.

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2017 at 5:09 pm
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(Photo: Unsplash; Edited: LW / TO)

Oldspeak: “While the infotainment networks breathlessly cover The Trump Show reporting fake news about who he pissed on; a 2000 square mile iceberg is about to break free from the rapidly collapsing Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica. An ice island the size of a small U.S. state would then be afloat in the Southern Ocean… Not only would a loss of Larsen C change the map of the Earth itself; the shelf holds back glaciers capable of contributing about 4 inches of global sea level rise over time. Global warming is creating vicious feedback loop: a wildfire ‘death spiral’ in alpine areas, where forests are failing to regrow, that will “…have significant consequences for carbon sequestration [such as attempts to absorb carbon from the atmosphere by growing trees or plants], water supply and biodiversity.” The thawing Arctic is turning oceans that should be nurseries for sea ice in to graveyards. The most fascinating news in Dahr Jamail’s latest dispatches from The Extinction, is that of “TeleconnectionActivities in one region of Earth can disturb or alter the climate equilibrium in another, very far away.”When trees die in one place, it can be good or bad for plants elsewhere because it causes changes in one place that can ricochet to shift climate in another place, the atmosphere provides the connection.” Imagine the implications of this knowledge. Basically more confirmation of “The Butterfly Effect“. Makes moots these green capitalist fantasies like bioenergy plus carbon capture and storage, green economy,  renewable energy, etc, etc, etc. All of these techno-fixes require fabrication of tremendous amounts of resources that are rapidly depleting thanks to  still going strong; if slowing down, disposable, planned obsolescence based way of being. It’s become all too obvious that our rapacious hyperconsumption has created imbalance all throughout the ecology.  All is connected. Consuming more will have grave consequences for life on Earth. There’s really no way around that anymore.” -OSJ

 

Written By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

There was a moment in early January when it was colder in Seattle (27F) than it was on the North Slope of Alaska in the Arctic town of Barrow (30F).

On the day that this occurred, Barrow, whose normal high temperature for that day was negative 5 degrees, saw a record high temperature of 33 degrees above zero.

This unprecedented phenomenon sums up the direction of this month’s dispatch: a turn toward “global weirding” on all fronts.

As Truthout reported in mid-December, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concluded in their annual Arctic climate report card, “The Arctic is unraveling.” Record-breaking heat in the north has clearly pushed the region into uncharted climate territory.

In late December, the heating trend continued, with temperatures at the North Pole spiking to near melting point, a stunning 50 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, despite being the darkest time of the year, with literally no sunlight.

Antarctica saw equally shocking developments. Recent NASA photography revealed a 300-foot-wide rift along the Larsen C ice shelf, signaling the now imminent demise of the massive ice shelf, which will send an iceberg the size of Delaware into the southern ocean.

Words like “unprecedented” and phrases like “we haven’t seen anything like this yet” are no longer uncommon among scientists studying the ice in Antarctica, where a break in the Pine Island Glacier has now revealed yet another mechanism for collapse. (That glacier, along with so many other massive glaciers in the Antarctic, is melting due to warmer sea water from below.)

Simultaneously, in East Antarctica, a region of the ice continent assumed to be relatively intact and, thus far, impervious to the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), two recent scientific reports have exposed some seriously troubling warning signs. The studies, each of which focused in on a different East Antarctic ice shelf, showed that major melting is already occurring both from above and below that could eventually release the ice shelves — and thus release all the ice above them on the continent. Given that East Antarctica contains roughly two thirds of all the ice on the continent, this is troubling news indeed: The entire region’s stability is now under threat.

It is worth noting that by November, the Arctic and Antarctic had both hit record low sea ice coverage, and NASA recently released imagery showing how stunningly fast glaciers around the world are melting. Given that glaciers hold approximately 69 percent of all the fresh water on the planet, the implications for humans, coupled with sea level rise, are obvious.

Of course, President-elect Donald Trump’s impending inauguration looms over all of these developments. A man will occupy the White House who says, “Nobody really knows if climate change is real.” Last month, Anthony Scaramucci, an advisor from the executive committee of Trump’s transition team, went on CNN and forcefully denied ACD — while stating that the Earth is 5,500 years old.

Buckle up.

Earth

When one thinks of ACD’s impacts on forests, droughts and wildfires generally come to mind. However, we would do well to recognize a lesser-known ACD-related impact on forests: bugs. A recent study predicts that insects will leave at least 63 percent of US forests at risk by 2027, and are already one of the single largest threats to biodiversity in the US. Surging beetle kills caused by ACD-driven warming temperatures and droughts, along with invasive species introduced via global trade, are two examples. “They are one of the few things that can actually eliminate a forest tree species in pretty short order, Harvard University ecologist David Orwig, who participated in the study, told the media. “Within years.”

A recent study published by scientists from UC Davis and the US Forest Service showed that, disconcertingly, forests are failing to regrow after ACD-driven wildfires that have become larger, hotter and more frequent across the country. The study shows how recent fires have killed so many mature, seed-producing trees across such vast swaths of land, that forests are unable to reseed themselves. Study coauthor Kevin Welch, a forest researcher at UC Davis, said, “We aren’t seeing the conditions that are likely to promote natural regeneration.”

And when dramatic ACD-impacts are causing forests in the US to suffer, trees halfway around the world are simultaneously impacted, according to another recent study. When drought, insect infestation, heat or exploitation cause a significant number of trees to die in one area, the climate in forests in distant lands is also altered. Hence, according to the researchers, if enough woodlands are burned in North America, the consequences of this are felt in Siberian forests. If enough tropical rainforests are cleared in the Amazon, conifers in Siberia experience drought and greater cold, due to what the study describes as a “teleconnection”: Activities in one region of Earth can disturb or alter the climate equilibrium in another, very far away.

“When trees die in one place, it can be good or bad for plants elsewhere because it causes changes in one place that can ricochet to shift climate in another place,” Elizabeth Garcia of the University of Washington, who worked on the study, told the Climate News Network. “The atmosphere provides the connection.”

Meanwhile, another recently published study showed that some plant species in the Himalayas, like the rhododendron, have shown indications that their spring blooming season has been moved three months forward by ACD.

Not surprisingly, wildlife continues to display distress signals from ACD impacts as well.

Another study shows that hundreds of species around the globe — land, as well as marine — are already experiencing localized extinctions, and researchers affiliated with the study said that this is just the beginning.

Not surprisingly, another study, this one coming from the University of Edinburgh, shows that ACD is already driving birds to migrate earlier as global temperatures continue to increase across the board. When the birds arrive at their breeding grounds earlier, however, they often miss out on food sources and starve to death.

In the far north, reindeer are physically shrinking, primarily due to an increasing lack of food. Their weight has gone down considerably since the 1990s.

Plus, the world’s largest herd of reindeer, located on the Taimyr Peninsula of Russia, is plummeting in size, according to another report. The herd of wild reindeer has lost 40 percent of its population since just 2000, due to warming temperatures and human encroachment, and the numbers continue to decline rapidly.

Another warning sign from the north comes from steller sea lions, whose populations in the western Aleutian Islands continue to fall. Scientists blame ACD-driven warming waters that are causing food shortages and other health issues.

More distressing news from the north comes in the form of an expected change in the food chain: Experts warned recently that polar bears are likely to become prey to killer whales and Greenland sharks. Polar Bears are already the iconic species threatened by ACD, since they have increasingly had to swim further for food due to dwindling sea ice. This leaves them much more exposed to potential attacks from the killer whales and sharks. Meanwhile, the whales and sharks are eating the seals on which the polar bears rely for food themselves.

Canada’s Hudson Bay, normally considered the “polar bear capital of the world,” was as free of ice this past November as it was on a typical summer day. This indicates that, if trends continue, polar bears there could well be extinct by 2050.

Lastly in this section, the thawing of permafrost in Alaska and the Yukon has been shown, according to a recent study, to be literally changing the chemistry of the fabled Yukon River. “Essentially, what we found is, a lot of the common kind of minerals, and some of the nutrients in the Yukon River, and the Tanana River, had greatly increased over those 30 years,” Hydrologist Ryan Toohy with the USGS Alaska Climate Science Center, told Alaska Public Radio. Impacts of this include declining numbers of salmon returning to spawn in the Yukon River, which hurts tribes that rely upon the fish to put food on their tables. The reductions in salmon populations also affects the culture of tribes that practice subsistence living.

Water

As usual, the most obvious ACD impacts are making themselves known across Earth’s watery realms.

An amount of polar sea ice the size of India (or two Alaskas) has vanished amidst record-high ocean and atmospheric temperatures, according to climate scientists. It’s not surprising, given that parts of the Arctic were 20 degrees Celsius (36F) above normal on some days during last November.

Another study showed that ACD-driven warming is sending mountain glaciers “off a cliff,” and called these retreating glaciers “categorical evidence” of ACD, noting that the glacial retreat provides “sobering perspective on how far out of equilibrium these glaciers are.”

A 2015 winter research expedition in the Arctic left researchers shocked by how thin and weak the Arctic sea ice was, in addition to being stunned by how early a summer phytoplankton bloom arrived. They attributed the bloom to the warmer-than-normal Arctic waters.

A recently published study brings more bad news for Greenland. The study showed that the Greenland Ice Sheet will likely be melting much faster than previously believed, which is also bad news for sea-level increase around the world.

New research has confirmed what has been known for quite some time now: that ongoing melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet is bringing us closer to an inevitable long-term consequence of collapsing the Atlantic Ocean’s circulation, which would bring catastrophic climatic shifts to Northern Europe, North America and beyond.

Down in the Antarctic, things are no better. Recently released long-term satellite observations have revealed that dramatic ice loss is spreading rapidly up glaciers in the Antarctic, some of which are losing more than 20 feet of height per year.

ACD has been linked to massive changes taking place in the food web of the US Great Lakes region, as the base of the food chain drastically transforms. Warming water temperatures are causing an algae that forms the food chain’s base to increase in number, which will have unforeseen impacts on everything else in that ecosystem.

If you live in Miami, New Orleans or New York, a recent report shows that you are in one of the top US cities already experiencing sea-level rise, which is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years.

More scientific research shows that the Everglades’ water is now at risk from sea-level rise, which means the fabled “river of grass,” as the area has long been referred to, is going to be inundated with saltwater.

Across the Atlantic, a recent study suggests that the only reason coastal communities in Britain have survived sea level rise and extreme weather events thus far has been luck. The study found that the winter of 2013-2014 saw storms generate the maximum recorded sea level at half of the tidal measuring sites around the UK, as well as the largest number of extreme sea-level events of any season in the last 100 years. However, troublingly, the study showed that none of those serious flooding events happened during a severe storm, which means that things could have been far, far worse. Hence, it is only a matter of time for an ACD-fueled extreme storm to coincide with a high tide, which will bring widespread destruction to wherever it lands on Britain’s coastline.

Lastly in this section, recent research shows that the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, which was hammered by a coral bleaching event not long ago, is not likely to survive at all if oceanic warming continues, which it most assuredly will. The study projects that by the year 2050, more than 98 percent of global coral reefs will be afflicted by “bleaching-level thermal stress” every year.

Fire

The American Meteorological Society’s annual attribution report released mid-December showed that ACD-driven heat was the key factor in Alaska’s 2015 fire season, which was the second worst on record, in terms of the total area burned. The report also cited “snowpack drought” in Washington State that resulted from high temperatures as another factor that led to wildfires in that state, and indicated that in both places, rising temperatures will continue to predispose the areas to increasing frequency and duration of wildfires.

More than 100 active wildfires in South Africa, burning amidst conditions of warmer than normal temperatures, lack of rainfall and dry conditions fueled by ACD impacts, were burning at the time of this writing.

Air

Soon, 2016 will be deemed the warmest year recorded on the planet since record-keeping began. This is certainly true in the Arctic, where autumn temperatures soared to 36F above normal and even higher in some places. Jennifer Francis, a research professor at Rutgers University, explained to Yale Environment 360 that a rapidly warming Arctic will have profound implications on global weather in many ways, such as a shifting jet stream, more persistent and prolonged droughts, and heavy flooding, all of which will dramatically impact food production.

Last month, Climate Central produced this excellent graphic, which gives one a clear, visual perspective on how much warming occurred in the continental US during 2016. In summary, 2 percent of US weather stations reported colder-than-average temperatures for the year, 98 percent of them reported warmer-than-average temperatures for the year, and 10 percent of them reported temperatures that were the hottest on record.

Meanwhile, scientists in Vietnam point to ACD as the cause of an increase in vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue fever, due to rising seawater levels and warmer temperatures creating conditions favorable for mosquito reproduction and transmission of diseases.

Denial and Reality

With an incoming Donald Trump presidency — including a cabinet that amounts to an environmental demolition team — we can expect this denial section to become quite lengthy in future dispatches.

The Center for Media and Democracy published a leaked transition team memo that outlined Trump’s disastrous energy agenda. The plan will essentially lay waste to most federal environmental regulations that are left, and will halt efforts toward developing clean energy and addressing ACD, scant as they may be. It includes, but is not limited to, the following steps: withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, increase federal oil and natural gas leasing, lift the coal lease moratorium, give states greater say on energy leases on federal lands within state borders, expedite approvals on LNG [liquefied natural gas] export terminals, move full steam ahead on pipeline infrastructure, amend the Renewable Fuel Standard and relax federal fuel economy standards.

Conveniently, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson was named Secretary of State, despite the fact that investigations have been underway to look into Exxon’s climate science disinformation campaigns.

Just as conveniently, Chris Shank, the deputy chief of staff to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and a vocal ACD denier, was selected to head the NASA transition team. It is clear that most money slated for NASA to study climate/earth science will be slashed.

Australian climate scientists have already slammed Trump’s plans to scrap NASA’s climate science work, as outrage at the president-elect’s anti-environment stance mounts around the globe.

Some of the environmental Cabinet picks read like a sick joke: Trump also picked Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a staunch ally of the fossil fuel industry and ACD denier, to head the EPA. Both Pruitt and Trump have been blatant opponents of the EPA itself.

In total, at least nine senior members of Trump’s transition team deny the existence of ACD while demonstrating a completely pro-fossil fuel agenda. Deniers have been chosen to lead every single agency that deals with ACD.

As a result of all of this, US climate scientists are frantically copying, backing up and storing abroad any and all US climate data out of fear it could be scrubbed under the incoming Trump administration.

The Guardian recently published an excellent piece that outlines what it calls the “booming conspiracy culture of climate science denial” that is happening alongside (and along with) the incoming Trump administration. The article shows how conspiracy websites and outlets, such as Breitbart, are working to create massive online audiences who believe that ACD is a “hoax.”

On the reality front, thankfully, there is some good news.

Divestments from the fossil fuel industry now represent at least $5.2 trillion, which is certainly heartening. That means that a record number of investors have agreed to withdraw, or already have withdrawn, money from the fossil fuel industry and are investing in renewables.

NASA satellites, scientists and super computers recently produced an amazing 3-D view of how CO2 flows through the atmosphere.

The single largest science event on Earth took place in San Francisco in December, when the American Geophysical Union convened for its annual meeting. There, with more than 20,000 earth and space scientists present, it was proclaimed that “the time has never been more urgent” for their work to continue.

And for the rest of us, “the time has never been more urgent” to bear witness to what is happening across the planet, and to act on the planet’s behalf.

Is Wood A “Green” Source of Energy? Scientists Are Divided

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2017 at 1:24 am
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Wood pellets

Oldspeak: Wanna know why we’re fucked?  We’re fucked because we’re debating questions like this in 2017. “Biomass” consumption is all the rage as the world burns. This, while forests worldwide die off EN MASSE due to a variety of threats, we’re debating stupid fucking questions like this… We have people that see cutting down trees and burning them as fucking fuel, the exact behavior that has contributed to the  destruction of the environment,  as good for the environment. Then again, in world where there is a Christmas Tree throwing championship, this shit makes sense.  I don’t understand this. MADNESS.” -OSJ

Written By Warren Cornwall @ Science:

It took half a century for an acorn to grow into the 20-meter-tall oak tree standing here in a North Carolina hardwood forest near the banks of the Northeast Cape Fear River. But it takes just seconds to turn the oak into fuel for the furnace of a European power plant.

A logging machine—a cross between a tank and a one-armed crab—grabs the tree with a metal claw. With a screech, a spinning blade bites through the trunk. Ultimately, the thickest bits of this tree and hundreds of others from this forest will be sliced into lumber. But the limbs from large trees like this, along with entire small or crooked trees, go to a specialized mill to be squeezed into tiny wood pellets. Shipped across the Atlantic Ocean, they will likely end up fueling a giant power plant in the United Kingdom that supplies nearly 10% of the country’s electricity.

Over the roar of the logging, Bob Abt, a forest economist at North Carolina State University (NC State) in Raleigh, explains why this trans-Atlantic trade in wood pellets is booming: a push by policymakers, industry groups, and some scientists to make burning more wood for electricity a strategy for curbing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Unlike coal or natural gas, they argue, wood is a low-carbon fuel. The carbon released when trees are cut down and burned is taken up again when new trees grow in their place, limiting its impact on climate.

The idea is attractively simple, says Abt, a member of an expert panel that is studying the concept for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Another tree will grow here and sequester carbon again. So we’re just recycling carbon.”

Yet moves by governments around the world to designate wood as a carbon-neutral fuel—making it eligible for beneficial treatment under tax, trade, and environmental regulations—have spurred fierce debate. Critics argue that accounting for carbon recycling is far more complex than it seems. They say favoring wood could actually boost carbon emissions, not curb them, for many decades, and that wind and solar energy—emissions-free from the start—are a better bet for the climate. Some scientists also worry that policies promoting wood fuels could unleash a global logging boom that trashes forest biodiversity in the name of climate protection.

Some trees cut from a logging site in Duplin County in North Carolina will be squeezed into wood pellets, to be burned in power plants.

© Katie Bailey

“It basically tells the Congo and Indonesia and every other forested country in the world: ‘If you cut down your forests and use them for energy, not only is that not bad, it’s good,’” says Tim Searchinger, a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C., who has studied the carbon impacts of wood energy.

Oak trees in North Carolina are heading for a U.K. power plant largely because of a single number: zero. That’s the amount of CO2 that European power plants can claim they emit when burning wood. It’s not true, of course, and in some cases wood-burning furnaces actually puff more CO2 from their smokestacks per unit of electricity produced than those burning coal or natural gas. (In part, that’s because wood can have a higher water content than other fuels, and some of its energy goes to boiling off the water.) But under the European Union’s ambitious 2009 plan to produce 20% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020, regulators endorsed an earlier decision to designate wood as a carbon-neutral fuel for the purposes of emissions accounting.

In response, some countries—including the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands—have built new wood-fired plants or converted coal-fired plants to wood. The United Kingdom has been one of the most enthusiastic, with the government providing subsidies for wood pellets that make them competitive with fossil fuels. At the country’s largest power station, a 4000-megawatt behemoth in North Yorkshire, owner Drax Group has converted half of the furnaces to burn wood pellets.

For fuel, Drax and other firms have been eyeing forests around the world. Those of North Carolina and other states in the southeastern United States, filled with fast-growing pines as well as hardwoods and just a short freighter trip from Europe, have become a major source of wood pellets. U.S. exports, nearly all from the southeast, grew from zero in 2005 to more than 6.5 million metric tons in 2016, according to Forisk Consulting, a firm in Athens, Georgia. Pellet exports are expected to grow to 9 million metric tons by 2021.

The boom has caught the attention of U.S. policymakers. Lawmakers in Congress, with backing from parts of the forest products industry, have proposed legislation that would follow the European Union’s lead and declare wood pellets a carbon-neutral fuel, which might encourage U.S. power companies to shift to wood. So far, those proposals haven’t made it into law, in part because of skepticism from the Obama administration.

But they have alarmed some environmental groups and divided scientists. This past February, 65 scientists, many from major universities, penned a letter to Senate leaders warning that the carbon-neutral label would encourage deforestation and drive up greenhouse gas emissions. But a month later, more than 100 scientists took the opposite view in a letter to EPA, stating that “the carbon benefits of sustainable forest biomass energy are well established.”

Economist Bob Abt has been examining the economic and ecological implications of wood fuels.

© Katie Bailey

Abt and his colleagues on the EPA expert panel are trying to sort out those starkly different perspectives. The son of a forester for a Georgia logging company, Abt can deftly switch from talking about machinery with a logger to describing the complex computer models he builds to simulate what might happen in a world with more wood-fired power plants. The bottom line, researchers say, depends on multiple assumptions about forest ecology and the economic behavior of landowners, as well as on the time horizon of the calculations. “There are four or five different approaches that you can use in order to measure the greenhouse gas implications of forest biomass energy,” says Madhu Khanna, an environmental economist at the University of Illinois in Champaign, and chair of the EPA expert panel. “There are huge differences in the answers you can get.”

One species of model focuses on the biological picture, tallying how much carbon is emitted when biomass is burned, and how long it will take for an ecosystem to reabsorb that carbon. The calculations are relatively straightforward. But the details—such as what kinds of trees are cut, and whether the new trees are fast-growing pines or slow-growing hardwoods—can influence how big that initial carbon debt appears to be, and how long it will take to pay back.

Because of the lag between emissions and uptake, studies taking this approach often find that widespread use of wood fuel will cause emissions spikes that could last for decades, hastening the pace of global warming. Researchers working with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group, concluded that a wood-burning plant would have higher net carbon emissions than a comparable coal plant for the first 4 decades or more of operations. A similar study in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry in 2013 found that greenhouse gases from a power plant fired by wood from New England forests would outrank emissions from a similar coal-fired power plant for nearly half a century.

The bottom line for climate can shift depending on how far into the future researchers peer. The EPA panel on which Abt and Khanna sit has endorsed a long view. In its latest draft, the group recommends doing carbon accounting over a 100-year timeframe, based on research suggesting that it takes that long for the planet to feel the full impact of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions. Such long tallies give new forests plenty of time to mature and recapture carbon, making wood appear closer to carbon neutral.

But some scientists object that such long timescales gloss over the risk that the near-term spike in emissions produced by large-scale wood burning will cause damage that can’t be undone. “If we melt Arctic ice in the next 20 years, that’s not going to come back,” says William Schlesinger, a biogeochemist and president emeritus at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, who sits on EPA’s Science Advisory Board.

Such issues suggest policymakers should proceed with caution, says Sami Yassa, a forestry scientist with NRDC in Kittery, Maine. “Our belief,” he says, “is that these uncertainties need to be resolved in favor of avoiding damage” to today’s forests.

Meanwhile, Abt and some other researchers are pursuing modeling approaches that attempt to take into account the important role that economics and human behavior play in shaping future forests. At one extreme, logged forest might be converted into farmland or housing lots, never getting a chance to regrow and soak up carbon. Or a booming pellet trade could have the opposite effect: encouraging farmers to plant trees where crops or pasture grasses once grew, amplifying the carbon benefits.

One study using Abt’s approach has offered a counterintuitive conclusion: that an expansion of the southeast’s pellet industry might offer a net benefit, in terms of carbon, in the long run. That’s because it could prompt landowners to plant more trees, leading to more carbon storage. And shipping pine pellets to Europe to produce electricity can make both economic and environmental sense, Abt and Khanna concluded in a 2015 study in Environmental Research Letters. Compared with coal, wood fuel cut carbon emissions by 74% to 85% when they took into account the entire life cycle of both fuels, including emissions from production and transportation, and possible land-use shifts. The point, Abt says, is that “you can’t just tell a biological story. My thesis is that ignoring markets gives you more of a wrong answer.”

That’s a view seconded by Tommy Norris, a North Carolina timber supplier in Rocky Point. His company, Tri-State Land & Timber LLC, bought the rights to log the Duplin County site. Demand for wood, he says, creates incentives for landowners to manage forests for the long term, and can prevent them from being converted to other uses. “If you don’t have markets,” he says, “people are just going to ignore their forests.”

Roughly 160 kilometers northeast of the logging site, NC State ecologist Asko Noormets is investigating what he believes is another important—and often overlooked—part of the wood fuel puzzle. It’s right beneath his feet. Under loblolly pines on a plantation owned by timber giant Weyerhaeuser, Noormets crouches next to a white plastic pipe embedded in the forest floor. A motor whines as a mechanism drops a small plastic dome over the end of the pipe, and a sensor takes a deep breath of the CO2 inside, rising from the soil.

The measurements, taken every 30 minutes for the last 11 years, have Noormets worried. They suggest that logging, whether for biofuels or lumber, is eating away at the carbon stored beneath the forest floor. Every square meter of this forest is losing roughly 125 grams of carbon annually into the atmosphere, the data suggest. Over time, he predicts, logging could wear this fertile, peat-based soil down to the sandy layer below, releasing much of its carbon and destroying its long-term productivity.

When he has looked at emissions from other managed forests around the world, he’s found similarly elevated rates of soil carbon loss. Noormets isn’t certain what’s driving the losses, but he suspects that by disturbing the soil, logging alters the activity of soil microbes that release CO2.

The soft-spoken scientist tends toward technical jargon. But he says that when he first saw the numbers a few years ago, “I was terrified.” That’s because soil carbon accounts for a significant portion of the total carbon stored in forests, so over time a decline could have major implications for the climate.

Other studies of managed forests have found less worrying carbon losses, or little evidence of long-term declines. Still, if Noormets’s findings are upheld by further research, they might force a rethink of wood-fuel accounting, which often assumes no soil carbon loss, Abt says. “Then just modeling the aboveground carbon is going to give you a wrong answer.”

The pellet trade could also have more immediate ecological impacts. In the Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge near Williamston, North Carolina, Adam Macon strolls down a dirt path past oak trees so thick he couldn’t encircle one with his arms. Towering cypress trees splay their roots into the boggy soil. It’s a textbook example of a bottomland hardwood forest, says Macon, who works for the Dogwood Alliance, an environmental group based in Asheville, North Carolina. It hosts dozens of plant species, more than 200 kinds of birds, and mammals including muskrats and black bears.

As a wildlife refuge, these trees are beyond the reach of the saw. But just a few kilometers away it’s a different story. Unlike forests in the western United States, which are mostly owned by the U.S. government, more than 80% of southeastern forests are in private hands. Macon fears that if demand for wood pellets keeps growing, it will create yet another incentive for landowners to log relatively diverse hardwood forests—which already account for approximately a quarter of the pellets coming from the South—and convert them into less diverse but faster growing pine plantations.

A recent study in the journal Global Change Biology Bioenergy concluded that increased demand for wood fuel could cause some North Carolina hardwood ecosystems to shrink by about 10% by 2050. A companion study found that some species living in those forests could decline as well, including the cerulean warbler, a little blue songbird whose populations have fallen by nearly 75% since the mid-1960s. “We see this biomass industry as one of the biggest threats, if not the biggest threat, to these forests,” Macon says.

Officials in the wood products industry say the fears of sweeping habitat destruction are unfounded. So far, predictions of a huge surge in European demand for wood pellets haven’t been borne out, says Seth Ginther, executive director for the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association in Richmond, Virginia. Only a handful of European countries are subsidizing wood pellets, he says, and a number of proposed U.S. pellet plants have never materialized. “The way the market has shaken out, there’s just not that much demand,” Ginther says.

Overall, pellets consumed 3% of the wood cut in the southeast in 2013, far less than what goes to pulp or lumber. Still, at least seven new pellet plants are expected to start operating in the region over the next 5 years, according to Forisk Consulting.

Both boosters and critics of labeling pellets as carbon-neutral now wonder how the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump might view wood fuels. With the Republican Party soon to be in control of both Congress and the White House, NRDC’s Yassa predicts that industry groups and politicians from timber-rich states will again press their case that a carbon-neutral designation for wood would be good for the economy. But with Trump and his appointees vowing to dismantle domestic climate rules and withdraw from international agreements designed to promote the use of climate-friendlier fuels, it’s not clear just how much cachet a carbon-neutral label will carry in the United States.

Elsewhere in the world, however, wood appears to be winning support. Demand for pellets is increasing in Japan and South Korea as those nations seek to meet renewable energy quotas. And at the end of November 2016, the European Commission recommended extending the European Union’s existing wood-fuel policies until 2030, with some minor changes. Such policy decisions suggest the debate over wood and climate is far from over.

We Have Released A Monster: Previously Frozen Soil Is “Breathing Out” Greenhouse Gases

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2017 at 7:48 pm
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Katey Walter Anthony, a leading scientist in studying the escape of methane, at her research site where methane is collecting beneath the ice, in Fairbanks, Alaska, on October 21, 2011. With temperatures warming across much of that region, which scientists primarily believe is because of the rapid human release of greenhouse gases, permafrost is also warming, and signs are emerging that frozen carbon may be destabilizing. (Josh Haner/The New York Times)

Oldspeak: “Microorganisms in soil generally consume carbon, then release CO2 as a byproduct. Large areas of the planet — such as Alaska, northern Canada, Northern Europe and large swaths of Siberia in Russia — have previously been too cold for this process to occur. However, they are now warming up, and soil respiration is happening there. As a result, these places are contributing far, far more CO2 and methane to the atmosphere than they ever have….This means that even if all human fossil fuel emissions were halted immediately, soils would continue to release approximately the same amount of CO2 and methane emissions as the amount produced by the fossil fuel industry during the mid-20th century.” –Dahr Jamail

“Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick….. with each passing day, more and more of these previously sequestered carbon stores are released into the atmosphere. The Greenhouse gets hotter. Nothing humans can do will change this reality. Halting human fossil fuel emissions won’t change it. Switching to a global economy based on renewable energy will not change it. Marches and “direct actions” will not change it. Recycling won’t change it. Global “Climate Agreements” won’t change it. We’re “fighting” irresistible forces here. We’ve set in motion feedback loops that don’t stop for a long long long long time with all our activity and exponentially growing energy & resource consumption. We need to start considering doing less. Degrowth is the only sane path forward for humanity.  We are spending more and more time with each passing year  in ecological overshoot,  as explained by the World Footprint Network;

Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.6 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year. Moderate UN scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, by the 2030s, we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us. And of course, we only have one. Turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources puts us in global ecological overshoot, depleting the very resources on which human life and biodiversity depend.”

This is unsustainable. We can’t keep consuming more and breeding more indefinitely. We don’t have 2 Earths.  Yet industrial civilization plunders on. Unrelentingly. Distracted. Self-absorbed. Mechanically. Obliviously. Disconnected from reality. There is only so much longer business as usual anthropocentric hegemony that has no regard for our Great Mother’s energetic balance can continue.” -OSJ

Written By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

A study published in the journal Nature has revealed an alarming new climate feedback loop: As Earth’s atmosphere continues to warm from anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), soils are respirating carbon — that is, carbon is being literally baked out of the soils.

Microorganisms in soil generally consume carbon, then release CO2 as a byproduct. Large areas of the planet — such as Alaska, northern Canada, Northern Europe and large swaths of Siberia in Russia — have previously been too cold for this process to occur. However, they are now warming up, and soil respiration is happening there. As a result, these places are contributing far, far more CO2 and methane to the atmosphere than they ever have.

This phenomenon is already evidenced by a recently released study led by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which Truthout reported on recently.

This means that even if all human fossil fuel emissions were halted immediately, soils would continue to release approximately the same amount of CO2 and methane emissions as the amount produced by the fossil fuel industry during the mid-20th century.

Another Tipping Point

The study showed that the uptick in soil respiration is set to add between 0.45 and 0.71 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 to the atmosphere each year between now and 2050.

Disturbingly, humans are already adding between 3.2 to 3.55 ppm of CO2 to the atmosphere as of this year, which is the first time CO2-increase rates have broken records two years in a row.

The amount of CO2 that soil respiration will add to the atmosphere — on top of what humans are directly adding — is significant.

Climate feedback loops, sometimes referred to as positive feedback loops, runaway feedback loops, or amplifying feedback loops, are important to understand if we are to truly comprehend the nature of ACD. Many feedback loops are already in play, and more are coming into being on a regular basis.

For example, when atmospheric warming caused by fossil fuel emissions leads to the melting of Arctic sea ice, the reflectivity lost by disappearing sea ice allows more solar radiation to heat the Arctic Ocean, which then causes more sea ice to melt. This is perhaps the most well-known climate feedback loop.

The discovery of the soil feedback loop intensifies concerns about our rapidly warming climate. Increasing soil respiration — also known as “the compost bomb” — is set to add between 30 and 55 billion tons of extra CO2 to the atmosphere over the next 35 years, as Earth’s temperature warming approaches 2C.

Moreover, the study categorizes its findings as conservative estimates. In fact, the Earth could well see as much as four times the amount of CO2 (2.7 ppm) from soil respiration alone if the phenomenon becomes more wide-ranging than expected. And given that scientific predictions rarely keep pace with how rapidly the planet is changing, it would not be surprising if the prevalence exceeds expectations.

Catastrophic for Humanity

Dr. Thomas Crowther, the lead researcher on the soil study, told The Independent that, given that ACD is happening more rapidly than expected, the impending climate-denying Trump presidency could well be “catastrophic for humanity.”

He is not exaggerating: A lot can happen in four years, when it comes to climate disruption. In fact, every year makes quite a difference. The study shows that at a minimum, 0.45ppm of CO2 will be leached from northern soils every year between 2016 and 2050, with about 1C worth of atmospheric warming during that period.

The study also shows that if Earth is warmed to 2C above preindustrial baseline temperature levels by 2050, which is essentially a certainty in the best-case scenario, then an average of approximately 0.71ppm of CO2 will be released from soils every year through the year 2050.

The Earth has already warmed by more than 1C above preindustrial baseline temperatures. It is unlikely that human civilization can survive warming of 3.5C or higher, as humans have never lived on a planet that warm. However, we are currently on track for a minimum warming of 5 to 7C, or worse, by 2100.

“It’s fair to say we have passed the point of no return on global warming, and we can’t reverse the effects,” Dr. Crowther told The Independent when the study was released. “But we can certainly dampen them.”

Other climate scientists emphasized the importance of using the soil study to inform measures to mitigate the damage of ACD. Professor Ivan Janssens with the University of Antwerp called the study “very important,” because the response of soils to ACD could well be one of the largest sources of uncertainty in climate modelling.

“We urgently need to develop a global economy driven by sustainable energy sources and start using CO2, as a substrate, instead of a waste product,” Dr. Janssens told The Independent. He suggested that if significant progress is made on this front, it may still be possible to avoid catastrophic warming.