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

Archive for February, 2017|Monthly archive page

Fish Under Threat As World’s Oceans Continue To Deoxygenate And Acidify

In Uncategorized on February 20, 2017 at 6:05 pm

Callum Roberts, the author of Ocean of Life and a marine conservation biologist at the University of York, is unsurprised by the latest findings. “What we’re seeing is fallout from global warming,” he says. “It’s straightforward physics and chemistry playing out in front of our eyes, entirely in keeping with what we’d expect and yet another nail in coffin of climate change denial.”

Scientists have long predicted ocean deoxygenation due to climate change, but confirmation on this global scale, and at deep sea level, is concerning them. Last year, Matthew Long, an oceanographer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, predicted that oxygen loss would become evident “across large regions of the oceans” between 2030 and 2040.” -Susan Simillie

Yes. One of the major sources of animal protein for humans, fish, is having serious issues with oceans that are deoxygenating and acidifying, quite unsurprisingly, faster than expected. Meanwhile….. “Fish is the last wild meal in the human diet, but roughly two-thirds of the world’s major stocks are now fished at or beyond their capacity, and another 10 percent have been harvested so heavily that populations will take years to recover” Hmmm. I wonder how this intractable predicament will play out. Enjoy the fish feed while you can folks.” -OSJ

Written By Susan Simillie @ U.K. Guardian:

The depletion of oxygen in our oceans threatens future fish stocks and risks altering the habitat and behaviour of marine life, scientists have warned, after a new study found oceanic oxygen levels had fallen by 2% in 50 years.

The study, carried out at Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Germany, was the most comprehensive of the subject to date. The fall in oxygen levels has been attributed to global warming and the authors warn that if it continues unchecked, the amount of oxygen lost could reach up to 7% by 2100. Very few marine organisms are able to adapt to low levels of oxygen.

The paper contains analysis of wide-ranging data from 1960 to 2010, documenting changes in oxygen distribution in the entire ocean for the first time. “Since large fish in particular avoid or do not survive in areas with low oxygen content, these changes can have far-reaching biological consequences,” said Dr Sunke Schmidtko, the report’s lead author.

Some areas have seen a greater drop than others. The Pacific – the planet’s largest ocean – has suffered the greatest volume of oxygen loss, while the Arctic witnessed the sharpest decline by percentage. “While the slight decrease of oxygen in the atmosphere is currently considered non-critical, the oxygen losses in the ocean can have far-reaching consequences because of the uneven distribution,” added another of the report’s authors, Lothar Stramma.

It is increasingly clear that the heaviest burden of climate change is falling on the planet’s oceans, which absorb more than 30% of the carbon produced on land. Rising sea levels are taking their toll on many of the world’s poorest places. Warming waters have devastated corals – including the Great Barrier Reef – in bleaching events.

Acidic oceans, caused by a drop in PH levels as carbon is absorbed, threaten creatures’ ability to build their calcium-based shells and other structures. Warming waters have also caused reproductive problems in species such as cod, and triggered their migration to colder climates. Lower oxygen levels in larger parts of the ocean are expected to force animals to seek out ever shrinking patches of habitable water, with significant impacts on the ecosystem and food web.

Callum Roberts, the author of Ocean of Life and a marine conservation biologist at the University of York, is unsurprised by the latest findings. “What we’re seeing is fallout from global warming,” he says. “It’s straightforward physics and chemistry playing out in front of our eyes, entirely in keeping with what we’d expect and yet another nail in coffin of climate change denial.”

Scientists have long predicted ocean deoxygenation due to climate change, but confirmation on this global scale, and at deep sea level, is concerning them. Last year, Matthew Long, an oceanographer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, predicted that oxygen loss would become evident “across large regions of the oceans” between 2030 and 2040. Reacting to the German findings, Long said it was “alarming to see this signal begin to emerge clearly in the observational data”, while Roberts said, “We now have a measurable change which is attributable to global warming.”

The report explains that the ocean’s oxygen supply is threatened by global warming in two ways. Warmer water is less able to contain oxygen than cold, so as the oceans warm, oxygen is reduced. Warmer water is also less dense, so the oxygen-rich surface layer cannot easily sink and circulate.

“As the world warms up, the thickness and temperature of the surface layers are increasing,” said Roberts. “This acts like a stronger lid on the world’s oceans, so there’s less oxygen transported down below.”

“Unless we address greenhouse gas emissions urgently we’ll see more and more of this,” said Roberts. “Life will become harder for creatures that live in the sea and for those that depend on them – ie us.”

A CTD-rosette is lowered into the ocean to analyse conductivity, temperature and depth and current oxygen measurements.
A CTD-rosette is lowered into the ocean to analyse conductivity, temperature and depth and measure dissolved oxygen. Photograph: Geomar

Fish that rely on dissolved oxygen will grow more slowly, peak at a smaller body size, and produce fewer offspring. And, Roberts pointed out, larger fish such as tuna, swordfish and sharks will be badly affected given their greater dependence on larger amounts of oxygen – they will be driven into ever narrower bands of oxygen-rich water near the surface, as will much of their prey, leading to more competition for food sources and other changed behaviour.

One knock-on effect is likely to be an increase to overfishing: “The eastern Pacific has huge tuna fisheries already,” he pointed out. “If the tuna can’t dive down where it is uninhabitable, as oxygen deficient areas expand, they have less space at the surface, they’re squeezed into ever tighter spaces and they’re more vulnerable to being caught.”

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Scientists Warning Of Mass Extinction Of Species, Including Humans, Within 10 Years

In Uncategorized on February 9, 2017 at 5:20 pm

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Oldspeak: “Even if their findings are bullshit, isn’t it worth a least a little bit of coverage and critical analysis? Why is Trump sucking up still sucking all the air in the room, when we are in all probability facing dire and likely existential threats to continued complex life on earth? The sustained anthropogenic carbon release rate right now is TEN TIME HIGHER than it was during a thermal maximum period 66 million years ago. This paragraph is enlightening:

During the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which occurred 55 million years ago, global temperatures rose as rapidly as by 5°C in ~13 years, according to a study by Wright et al. A recent study by researchers led by Zebee concludes that the present anthropogenic carbon release rate is unprecedented during the past 66 million years. Back in history, the highest carbon release rates of the past 66 million years occurred during the PETM. Yet, the maximum sustained PETM carbon release rate was less than 1.1 Pg C per year, the study by Zebee et al. found. By contrast, a recent annual carbon release rate from anthropogenic sources was ~10 Pg C (2014). The study by Zebee et al. therefore concludes that future ecosystem disruptions are likely to exceed the – by comparison – relatively limited extinctions observed at the PETM.”

We are facing extinction at unprecedented scale. Greater than that which occurred during the Permian-Triassic extinction, or the Great Dying, 252 million years ago. When up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species became extinct and temperatures rose by 8 °C (14 °F). Scientists, observing the variety of positive feedbacks that have been triggered in this time, say we could see temperature rises this time in in the 18°F range by 2026.  All the reality show presidents antics  and “climate plans” in the world don’t really have any bearing on this happening. ” -OSJ

Written By Sam Carana @ Arctic News:

 

 

On February 10, 2017, 18:00 UTC it is forecast to be 0.1°C or 32.1°F at the North Pole, i.e. above the temperature at which water freezes. The temperature at the North Pole is forecast to be 30°C or 54°F warmer than 1979-2000, on Feb 10, 2017, 18:00 UTC, as shown on the Climate Reanalyzer image on the right.

This high temperature is expected as a result of strong winds blowing warm air from the North Atlantic into the Arctic.

The forecast below, run on February 4, 2017, shows that winds as fast as 157 km/h or 98 mph were expected to hit the North Atlantic on February 6, 2017, 06:00 UTC, producing waves as high as 16.34 m or 53.6 ft.

A later forecast shows waves as high as 17.18 m or 54.6 ft, as illustrated by the image below.

While the actual wave height and wind speed may not turn out to be as extreme as such forecasts, the images do illustrate the horrific amounts of energy contained in these storms.

Stronger storms go hand in hand with warmer oceans. The image below shows that on February 4, 2017, at a spot off the coast of Japan marked by green circle, the ocean was 19.1°C or 34.4°F warmer than 1981-2011.

As discussed in an earlier post, the decreasing difference in temperature between the Equator and the North Pole causes changes to the jet stream, in turn causing warmer air and warmer water to get pushed from the North Atlantic into the Arctic.

The image below shows that on February 8, 2017, the water at a spot near Svalbard (marked by the green circle) was 12.8°C or 55.1°F, i.e. 11.9°C or 21.4°F warmer than 1981-2011.

Warmer water flowing into the Arctic Ocean in turn increases the strength of further feedbacks that are accelerating warming in the Arctic. Altogether, these feedbacks and further warming elements could trigger a huge abrupt rise in global temperature making that extinction of many species, including humans, could be less than one decade away.


Without action, we are facing extinction at unprecedented scale. In many respects, we are already in the sixth mass extinction of Earth’s history. Up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species became extinct when temperatures rose by 8 °C (14 °F) during the Permian-Triassic extinction, or the Great Dying, 252 million years ago.

During the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which occurred 55 million years ago, global temperatures rose as rapidly as by 5°C in ~13 years, according to a study by Wright et al. A recent study by researchers led by Zebee concludes that the present anthropogenic carbon release rate is unprecedented during the past 66 million years. Back in history, the highest carbon release rates of the past 66 million years occurred during the PETM. Yet, the maximum sustained PETM carbon release rate was less than 1.1 Pg C per year, the study by Zebee et al. found. By contrast, a recent annual carbon release rate from anthropogenic sources was ~10 Pg C (2014). The study by Zebee et al. therefore concludes that future ecosystem disruptions are likely to exceed the – by comparison – relatively limited extinctions observed at the PETM.

An earlier study by researchers led by De Vos had already concluded that current extinction rates are 1,000 times higher than natural background rates of extinction and future rates are likely to be 10,000 times higher.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed in the Climate Plan.

Links

• Arctic Ocean Feedbacks
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/01/arctic-ocean-feedbacks.html

• Estimating the normal background rate of species extinction, De Vos et al. (2015)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25159086

• Anthropogenic carbon release rate unprecedented during the past 66 million years, by Zebee et al. (2016)
http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v9/n4/full/ngeo2681.html

• Evidence for a rapid release of carbon at the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, Wright et al. (2013)
http://www.pnas.org/content/110/40/15908.full?sid=58b79a3f-8a05-485b-8051-481809c87076

• RT America Youtube video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSnrDRU6_2g

• RT America Facebook video
https://www.facebook.com/RTAmerica/videos/10154168391051366

Extreme Heat At The North Pole; Could Approach Melting Point, 50 Degrees Above Normal, In Middle Of Winter

In Uncategorized on February 8, 2017 at 6:19 pm
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Abnormally warm air is expected to reach the North Pole by Thursday. Credit: Climate Reanalyzer

Oldspeak: “A massive storm is swirling toward Europe. It’s a weather maker in itself, churning up waves as high as 46 feet and pressure dropping as low as is typical for a Category 4 hurricane as of Monday. The storm is to the southeast of Greenland and its massive comma shape has made for stunning satellite imagery. The storm is expected to weaken as it approaches Europe, but it will conspire with a high pressure system over the continent to send a stream of warm air into the Arctic through the Greenland Sea.

Temperatures are forecast to reach the melting point in Svalbard, Norway, an island between the Greenland and Karas Seas. The North Pole could also approach the melting point on Thursday.”

-Brian Kahn

“As an aside, today, February 8th, 2017 in New York it was a balmy 60 degrees & sunny. Tomorrow, the high is forecast to be almost 30 degrees colder at 34 and a massive winter storm is expected to dump a foot of snow. The temperature in New York, will be about the same as in the North Fucking Pole. The last sentence of this piece should be chilling (pun intended):

It’s the most dramatic example of how carbon pollution is reshaping the planet and scientists are racing to understand what comes next.”

To suppose, that our climate treaties, marches, legislations, taxes, “renewable energy”, and carbon sequestering technofixes will change things for the better at this point, is admirable, but ultimately, useless. These are all human scale responses to a planetary level ecological breakdown. Scientists don’t yet fully understand what’s going on. They do know that what is happening is weird. Strange. Extreme. Unprecedented. Spring one day, winter the next. This is the new normal. We’ll need to get used to it for as long as we can.” -OSJ

Related Story:

More Evidence of “New Feedback” in Arctic? Giant Storm Pushes Warmth to Pole

 

By Brian Kahn @ Climate Central:

Weird. Strange. Extreme. Unprecedented.

These are some of the words that describe what’s been happening in the Arctic over the past year as surge after surge of warm air have stalled, and at times reversed, sea ice pack growth. And the unfortunate string of superlatives is set to continue this week.

Arctic sea ice is already sitting at a record low for this time of year and a powerful North Atlantic storm is expected to open the flood gates and send more warmth pouring into the region from the lower latitudes. By Thursday, it could reach up to 50°F above normal. In absolute temperature, that’s near the freezing point and could further spur a decline in sea ice.

Scientists have said the past year in the Arctic is “beyond even the extreme” as climate change remakes the region. Sea ice hit a record low maximum last winter (for the second year in a row,  no less) and the second-lowest minimum ever recorded last fall. After a fairly rapid refreeze in late September, the region experienced a dramatic shift. Extraordinary warmth has been a recurring theme.

Sea ice growth reversed in November. Temperatures reached the melting point at the North Pole in December. Preliminary data from January indicates the Arctic was up to 35°F above normal in some locations, including a mid-January mild wave.

That brings us to early February, which is setting up for another bout of mild weather in the Arctic.

HRPT providing an excellent visual (https://t.co/4EbJpKnqmc) of the powerful storm, which will result in moisture/heat transport into Arctic pic.twitter.com/yMu4r2pQQA

— Zack Labe (@ZLabe) February 6, 2017

A massive storm is swirling toward Europe. It’s a weather maker in itself, churning up waves as high as 46 feet and pressure dropping as low as is typical for a Category 4 hurricane as of Monday. The storm is to the southeast of Greenland and its massive comma shape has made for stunning satellite imagery. The storm is expected to weaken as it approaches Europe, but it will conspire with a high pressure system over the continent to send a stream of warm air into the Arctic through the Greenland Sea.

Temperatures are forecast to reach the melting point in Svalbard, Norway, an island between the Greenland and Karas Seas. The North Pole could also approach the melting point on Thursday.

It’s just the latest signal that the Arctic is in the middle of a profound change. Sea ice extent has dropped precipitously as has the amount of old ice, which is less prone to breakup. Beyond sea ice, Greenland’s ice sheet is also melting away and pushing sea levels higher, large fires are much more common and intense in boreal forests and other ecosystem changes are causing the earth to hyperventilate.

Together, these all indicate that the Arctic is in crisis. It’s the most dramatic example of how carbon pollution is reshaping the planet and scientists are racing to understand what comes next.

 

 

Westerners Urged To Reduce Carbon Footprint As Streaming Video Demand Drives Up Global CO2 Emissions

In Uncategorized on February 1, 2017 at 7:55 pm
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A major reduction in air travel is a key starting point for cutting emissions. Image: Kirstin Andrus via Flickr

Oldspeak: “As billionaires arrive in Davos on private jets to “solve” inequality while starving children eat ashes in Madacascar, last week, the doomsday clock was moved forward 30 seconds to 2 and a half minutes to midnight. No matter. The Orwellian irony is is those same billionaires schmoosing in Davos, with gargantuan carbon footprints pontificating about reducing inequality, derive their privileged positions in large part by sitting atop a world-threatening carbon economy while complicit media tout their omnicidal madness as good for the world:

The fact is that we live in a world that has been profoundly shaped by empire and its disparities. Differentials of power between and within nations are probably greater today than they have ever been. These differentials are, in turn, closely related to carbon emissions. The distribution of power in the world therefore lies at the core of the climate crisis

From the point of view of a security establishment that is oriented towards the maintenance of global dominance, this is precisely the scenario that is most greatly to be feared; from this perspective the continuance of the status quo is the most desirable of outcomes.” –Amitav Ghosh, “The Great Derangement”

Now, why would anyone in their right minds believe that those who derive the most privilege, power and profit from the current set of living arrangements who are tasked with changing them, to make them more equitable and just for all beings, would actually do it?!?!  Why would anyone, awash in a world of screens full of delightful entertainment, food, transportation, clothing,  etc etc etc at their fingertips at all times voluntarily forgo that potent Soma? Never mind that scientists say global carbon emissions could be cut by a third within a year if well-off westerners changed their lifestyle.  It’s not happening. 1 worlders will March, scream and shout till our vocal cords and feet bleed, but we will continue to be complicit in our own demise for the sake of convenience and comfort. It it when one confronts these harsh realities it becomes all too clear, that our fate is sealed. As long present living arrangements persist, as long as there is belief that there are market based “solutions” to climate change, to inequality and the whole constellation of effects of Industrial Civilization, the business as usual scenario will continue to play out and accelerate until it can’t no more. We’ll just be fucked a little faster than we would be if we got about the business of changing status quo.” – OSJ

Written By Terry Macalister @ Climate News Network:

Global carbon emissions could be cut by one-third within 12 months if affluent westerners changed their way of life, claims a leading climate change scientist.

Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at Manchester University, in the UK, says a major reduction in personal air travel is a key starting point.

More than half of the carbon dioxide pollution that causes a large part of global warming comes from the 10% best-off people on the planet, he argues.

Carbon footprint

“Let’s be clear about this. If the top 10 high emitters – people like you and me and others – if we reduce our carbon footprint just to the level of the average European, it would be a one-third cut in global emissions.

“I genuinely think we could achieve it in one year, but we would have to think that climate change is a very serious issue, and that has big political implications.”

Anderson, who already avoids flying when he can, made his comments in the run-up to a talk he will give on 9 March at Cambridge University in the UK.

“We need to make sure that we are not
living in larger houses and have many
houses, and drive larger cars”

This is part of the Cambridge Climate Lecture Series, a new town-and-gown initiative, shared between the university and the city and designed to rekindle debate on global warming.

Anderson is convinced that wealthy westerners must act decisively and radically to change their lifestyles.

“Those of us who are high emitters …. need to rapidly curtail how often we fly. We should not be flying on any occasion business class or first class because that has far higher emissions. We need to find alternatives to flying.

“But in addition we need to make sure that we are not living in larger houses and have many houses, and drive larger cars.

“Our high incomes allow us to have status in society and typically have larger carbon footprints. It is a real challenge for us in that position, because we have to significantly change our lives in the short term and find other ways of seeing value for hard work.”

UK commitment

Anderson plans to use his talk to explain what kind of personal, societal and corporate changes need to be made in Britain to meet the UK government’s commitment under the Paris climate change agreement.

He said during the Paris negotiations that he thought there was only a slim chance – less than 10% – that the world could manage to stop temperatures rising by more than 1.5°C over their pre-industrial level. This week the World Meteorological Organisation confirmed that they are already about 1.1°C higher than before the Industrial Revolution.

The Manchester academic will argue for steps to be taken to allow for a rapid reduction in energy demand alongside a ramping up of low-carbon power generation.

Other speakers in the series include Baroness Bryony Worthington, an architect of the UK’s 2008 Climate Change Act and founder of Sandbag, and Anthony Hobley, chief executive of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, a not-for-profit financial thinktank.

The meetings will be chaired by Emily Shuckburgh, deputy head of polar oceans at the British Antarctic Survey and the co-author of a forthcoming book, Climate Change. – Climate News Network

 

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Facebook’s Prineville data centre in Oregon: Demand just goes on growing. Image: Tom Raftery (Flickr) via Wikimedia Commons

Video Demand Drives Up Global CO2 Emissions

Written By Richard Sadler @ Climate News Network:

Sitting back and watching your favourite streamed TV series may seem harmless enough – but video demand is leaving a hefty carbon footprint.

LONDON, 31 January, 2017 – The internet is fast becoming a major source of global carbon emissions – and the main cause is video demand, the increasing popularity of “real time” streamed video content.

Video streaming to internet-enabled TVs, game consoles and mobile devices already accounts for more than 60% of all data traffic – and the latest forecasts suggest this will rise to more than 80% by 2020.

Increasingly, viewers across the world are watching films and TV series in real time through subscriptions to Netflix or Amazon, while social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are offering more and more streamed video content for free.

This is driving a dizzying increase in the amount of information that needs to be stored and transmitted by power-hungry data centres.  Up until 2003 the world had accumulated a total of five exabytes – five billion gigabytes –  of stored digital content. By 2015 that amount was being consumed every two days, as annual consumption reached 870 exabytes.

As more video is streamed and more of the world’s population goes online, annual data traffic is forecast to reach 2,300 exabytes by 2019

Pressure for renewables

The IT sector already consumes around 7% of electricity worldwide, and as data traffic rises, demand from data centres alone could reach 13% of global electricity consumption by 2030. 

Now leading video content providers are coming under increasing pressure to show what proportion of their power derives from fossil fuels.

A recent report by Greenpeace USA acknowledges that social media platform Facebook has made significant progress towards its target for 100% of its electricity to come from renewables, following support from millions of its users for Greenpeace’s  2011 “Unfriend coal” campaign. Google and Apple receive praise for progress towards similar commitments made in 2012.

However, major providers of video streaming content including Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu are criticised for sourcing more than half of their energy from coal or natural gas.

“The dramatic increase in the number of data centres … dominated by utilities that have little to no renewable energy is driving a similarly dramatic increase in the consumption of coal and natural gas”

Cloud computing market leader Amazon Web Services is credited for taking important steps towards renewables but censured for lack of transparency and heavy reliance on new data centres in the state of Virginia powered mainly by fossil fuels.

Elsewhere the lack of access to renewable energy from monopoly utilities in East Asia is seen as a major obstacle towards creating a renewably-powered internet in the region. 

The report concludes: “The dramatic increase in the number of data centres … dominated by utilities that have little to no renewable energy is driving a similarly dramatic increase in the consumption of coal and natural gas.”

Attempting to express the effect of increasing internet traffic in terms of emissions is fraught with difficulty, but one study, published in the journal Environmental Research Lettershas calculated that in 2011 Americans streamed 3.2 billion hours of video.

This would have consumed 25 petajoules of energy (estimated at about the annual consumption of 175,000 US households), resulting in 1.3 billion kilograms of CO2 emissions.

Efficiency limits

The lead author, Arman Shehabi, a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, said the IT sector had so far managed to offset its soaring electricity needs by designing more energy-efficient data centres. But there was a limit to how far energy efficiency could go.

“The growth in video streaming is enormous just based on the size of the companies that are providing these services – but they are still reaching only a small part of the global population and we can imagine that’s going to just keep increasing,” he said.

“You’re still going to have this growth of more and more servers needed. We’ve seen some good efficiency measures but we’re getting close to the end of that – we can’t go out much further – and with video streaming there’s no end in sight.”

He added that another major driver of future growth in data traffic would be the Internet of Things –  remote digital sensors, devices and driverless cars connected to the internet. – Climate News Network