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Archive for August, 2017|Monthly archive page

Cities Are Already Suffering From Summer Heat. Climate Change Will Make It Worse

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2017 at 9:39 am

Air conditioning in Midtown Manhattan keeps buildings cool but releases heat into the surrounding air, which wind pushes north towards underserved communities like Harlem and the South Bronx. Credit: Jeffrey Swanson

Oldspeak: “With two-thirds of humanity forcast to be living in cities in 13 years, expect this suffering to intensify.

Written By Brian Kahn @ Climate Central:

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Tina Johnson has a sense of place. She’s a fourth-generation New Yorker who lives in the same apartment in West Harlem’s Grant housing development that her grandparents lived in. She calls that apartment her anchor and the nine buildings that make up the development towering above 125th Street — home to roughly 4,400 residents spread across nine high rises — a small town.

“I have fond memories (of here) and this sense of belonging I want my children to have,” she said.

To keep that sense of place is going to take some work, though. Changes outside that “small town” nestled in a city of 8 million will only compound the stresses altering West Harlem.

Air conditioning in Midtown Manhattan keeps buildings cool but releases heat into the surrounding air, which wind pushes north towards underserved communities like Harlem and the South Bronx.
Credit: Jeffrey Swanson

A mix of poverty, a lack of services and aging infrastructure already make West Harlem one of the most vulnerable communities in Manhattan.

Climate change is putting further stress on Johnson and the 110,000 people that call the neighborhood home. And the biggest threat is rising temperatures.

As carbon pollution turns up the planetary heat, the impact is clearest on what’s happening to extremely hot days: They’re becoming more common and more intense.

New York has averaged 3 days above 95°F over the past 20 years. If carbon pollution continues on its current trend, by 2075 that number is likely to increase to 31 according to a new Climate Central analysis.

Myriad cities across the country will be far worse off, though. Atlanta is projected to see 69 days above 95°F, Boise could spend 80 days above that threshold while Dallas is on track to have 140 days above 95°F. Then there’s Phoenix, where residents could have to contend with more than half of the year above 95°F (163 days in case you’re wondering).

Many small towns will suffer even more. Alva, Fla., (population 2,182) could see 142 days above 95°F while Salton City, Calif., (population 3,763) could have to cope with a mind-bending 203 days where the mercury tops out at 95°F or higher.

The biggest factor in the number of future hot days is how fast the world reins in carbon pollution today. However, even if emissions are dramatically cut, every place across the U.S. will face more hot weather.

But extreme heat is hardly some far-off problem for 2100. It’s already taking a toll on people and influencing the decisions they make.

For Johnson, living in public housing means paying a surcharge of $18 per month to keep air conditioning in her apartment. Her grandparents didn’t believe in getting an air conditioner both because of the cost and a “tough it out” attitude. Johnson herself used to tease her kids when they complained it was too hot, but she finally relented, especially as warm weather has become more common in New York.

“When I was growing up here, I knew the summer was going to be hot,” she said. “There might be some hot days, but there was a regular pattern of it getting really hot the first weeks of August and then summer would start to peter out. Now it’s harder to predict the weather.”

But because of New York City Housing Authority rules and antiquated wiring, she can only have two air conditioners in her apartment. In hot months, that effectively turns her three-bedroom apartment into a two-room apartment.

Johnson spends her summers sleeping in the living room with her two sons. Her 20-year-old daughter gets a small portable unit to herself and a series of fans to stay cool, but family tensions tend to bubble up more in the summer without enough space for everyone.

Access to adequate air conditioning isn’t just about maintaining family relationships, though. Staying cool can be a matter of life and death. In New York, that heat sends 450 people to the emergency room and kills 121 people directly or indirectly on average each year. A study published last year by Columbia University researchers showed that the city could see 3,331 heat-related deaths by 2080.

It will take more than air conditioning to make West Harlem a safe, habitable neighborhood if carbon pollution continues to rise.

Cutting carbon pollution will help mitigate some of the heat stress, but cities and towns across the country will have to act soon to protect citizens and the infrastructure and services upon which they rely.

New York just unveiled a $100 million plan to kickstart that preparation. It focuses on the most vulnerable areas like Harlem, the South Bronx and other underserved neighborhoods.

“We know we can’t do business as usual dealing with heat impacts,” Kizzy Charles-Guzman, the deputy director of the New York Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, said. “We need to prepare now.”

There’s a layer of urgency for cities like New York. Summer days in the city are up to 14°F hotter than rural areas due to the urban heat island effect, a byproduct of all the pavement in cities trapping more heat than the trees and fields. But there are heat islands within heat islands. Where Johnson lives in Harlem is one of them, underscoring that climate adaptation is as much a social justice issue as one of engineering and infrastructure (it’s also a problem playing out throughout the world).

In Midtown Manhattan, air conditioners keep office buildings cool but they release heat into the surrounding air. Breezes from the south whisk that air into Harlem and the South Bronx, intensifying the heat island effect there.


Thermal imagery shows where heat islands exist within the larger heat island of New York. The black box shows where West Harlem is, including the hot spots within the neighborhood shown in red. Credit: The City of New York

For Johnson and thousands of others suffering with limited or no air conditioning, it’s adding injury to insult. A constellation of groups including WNYC public radio and WE ACT, a local environmental justice nonprofit, put together a pioneering study dubbed the Harlem Heat Project last summer. They put thermometers in 30 Harlem residents’ apartments and found that the temperature indoors frequently exceeded the ambient air temperature outdoors, particularly at night.

Building walls throbbed with heat they had absorbed throughout the day, radiating into homes and making sleeping and recovery from the day’s heat near impossible. That puts particular stress on elderly, the young and the infirm. Those conditions are also partly why Johnson, who has lupus and can’t spend much time outdoors, decided to install air conditioning.

“The communities that will be hardest hit by climate change are already the most vulnerable to environmental pollution and inequity,” Peggy Shepard, executive director of WE ACT, said. “Heat exacerbates asthma, other respiratory problems and cardiovascular disease.”

“It puts stress on the family and the house,” Johnson said.

To help ease some of the heat, New York’s $100 million plan will cover a host of initiatives, from planting trees and painting roofs white to cut the heat island effect, to connecting neighbors so that the elderly aren’t forgotten when the mercury skyrockets.

The latter idea holds particular promise as it’s a low-cost program that could achieve major results. Charles-Guzman, the deputy director at the New York Mayor’s Office, said what happened in the wake of Sandy is a textbook example.

“The neighborhoods where everybody knew each other, those neighborhoods did better (with recovery),” she said. “Not everyone wants a city worker knocking on their door. There’s low trust in government. We’re trying to capitalize on social ties people have with their neighbors.”

It’s tempting to peg New York as an outlier. After all, it’s a massive city with a vibrant economy in a deep blue state. But adapting to extreme heat is hardly the purview of rich, liberal cities.

Across the country, cities and towns of all shapes, sizes and political persuasions are reckoning with increasingly hot weather.

In Las Cruces, N.M., a city of 120,000 that sits in the shadows of the Organ Mountains, city planners are preparing residents for the even hotter future that climate change will bring.

At the town’s core is a clutch of low-slung adobe buildings punctuated by acres of parking lots that shimmer in the summer heat. Houses on the fringe of downtown blend with the desert dust and dead lawns that make up their front yards. Beyond that, the city tapers into the desert scattered with ocotillo, yucca and sagebrush.

The harsh landscape is a product of the sweltering, dry conditions that overtake the southern tier of New Mexico each summer. Even though it’s less dense than New York, trees cover just 4.5 percent of Las Cruces. On days when the temperature tops out above 108°F as it did earlier this summer, that translates to an intense heat island and very little shade for those braving the outdoors. The city is projected to see 64 days above 105°F by 2100, up from just a single day in an average year.


Like New York, Las Cruces is considering how to improve neighborhood awareness as a means to battle more extreme heat. But rather than focusing solely on checking in on neighbors when summer temperatures are at their hottest, city planner Lisa LaRocque said she has a vision to get neighbors helping each other with home repairs that can help keep things cool indoors.

“One of our goals is social cohesion and having neighbors help each other and know each other and create that bonding that might not otherwise occur,” she said. “(One idea is) if we are doing some of the low-hanging fruit of improving energy efficiency, we would do it as a neighborhood cooperative situation where I help you with x and someone else helps me with y.”

About 450 miles to the west of Las Cruces, city planners in San Angelo, Texas, have already glimpsed their future and are weighing how to respond. The city of 100,000 had 100 days above 100°F in 2011, an outlandishly hot year for the city. But that outlandishly hot summer could be routine if carbon pollution isn’t curbed. San Angelo is projected to have 110 days above 100°F by 2100. That’s the equivalent of running from the beginning of May through the end of September with daily temperatures near triple digits (to make matters worse, 39 of those days are projected to top out at 110°F or higher).


That makes the job of city planners in cities like San Angelo that much more important. When AJ Fawver, a city planner, convened a series of meetings to discuss how extreme weather affected basic city functions, managers were skeptical about why they were in the room together.

“Initially there was a feeling it only affects certain types of people,” Fawver said. “But really it affects everyone. You could see that as we went around the room” she said, rattling off how firefighters, road crews, utility workers and even the human resources department found they shared more heat-related woes than they first thought.

Weighing the impacts heat is already having on San Angelo makes the climate projections of what comes next all the more sobering. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe made the three-hour trip down from Texas Tech to talk with the group about what the future holds if carbon pollution isn’t curtailed. The findings painted a picture of relentless heat that will change the way the city functions and people live their daily lives.

“That was a reality check,” Fawver said. “People started thinking about their children and grandchildren and remembering how dreadful that summer was. Then it really hit home.”

San Angelo hasn’t yet decided how to tackle the hotter future that awaits it. But in a county where climate change isn’t a front-burner topic like it is in New York, the conversation is a major first step.

“The idea of climate change is still very controversial for some folks,” said Fawver, who is now the planning director in Amarillo, Texas. “There are people that just don’t want to have that discussion, people that question the science, a whole host of reasons why people want to avoid a conversation. But generally when we try to avoid a conversation, it’s a conversation that’s imperative to have.”


Earth Overshoot Day: Mankind Has Already Consumed More Natural Resources Than The Planet Can Renew Throughout 2017

In Uncategorized on August 10, 2017 at 7:12 pm

The equivalent of 1.7 planets would be required to produce enough to meet humanity’s needs at current consumption rates.

Oldspeak: “I, like most humans on Earth, failed to notice this grim, existentially important milestone. In 7 months we consumed more resources than Earth can provide for the year. August 2nd marked the day when we once again have deepened our ecological debt. Once again, the date has fallen earlier in the year than ever before. No civilization wide plans are in place to curb economic  & population growth. No radical interventions in the “business as usual” trajectory of human activity is on the horizon. As human resource consumption and population continue to grow,  It’s a pretty safe bet that we can expect increasing resource scarcity and the complete collapse of biospheric integrity as our planet’s ability to support our existence is eroded. It’s sad, that this life-altering reality garners a lone story in most news outlets. This is literally the only debt that matters and it’s barely noticed by most humans.” -OSJ

Earth Overshoot Day is not a day to be celebrated, but it is a day that deserves to be noticed and acted upon.

It is the day calculated by the Global Footprint Network (GFN) on which the Earth goes into debt, or more specifically we go in debt to the Earth. Every year the Earth is capable of producing a finite amount of natural resources — trees and wetlands to absorb carbon, agricultural lands to raise produce and livestock, trees to make paper, and so on.

When we exceed the naturally replenishable allotment of resources, we are forced to deplete resource stocks that will produce next year’s crops and carbon banks.

It’s pretty easy to figure out the downward spiral here.

The more we tap into those foundational resources, the less we are able to produce the following year. And then add that to steadily increasing consumption in countries like India and China … you get the picture.

Unless we have a radical intervention, we are headed for a collision course of epic proportions that can have only one of two results — the increasing scarcity (and costs) of resources resulting in a breakdown of the economic system and an end to the cycle of ever-expanding consumption. Or worse, the complete collapse of the complex natural systems that (until the 1970s) actually met all of our annual needs.” –Karl Burkart

Written By Phys.org:

Humanity will have used up its allowance of planetary resources such as water, soil, and clean air for all of 2017 by Wednesday, a report said.

Earth Overshoot Day will arrive on August 2 this year, according to environmental groups WWF and Global Footprint Network. This is a day earlier than in 2016.

It means humanity will be living on “credit” for the rest of the year.

“By August 2, 2017, we will have used more from Nature than our planet can renew in the whole year,” the groups said in a statement.

“This means that in seven months, we emitted more carbon than the oceans and forests can absorb in a year, we caught more fish, felled more trees, harvested more, and consumed more water than the Earth was able to produce in the same period.”

The equivalent of 1.7 planets would be required to produce enough to meet humanity’s needs at current consumption rates.

Calculated since 1986, the grim milestone has arrived earlier each year.

Description of Earth Overshoot Day, the date at which humanity’s use of natural resources exceeds what the planet can regenerate in that given year. This year it falls on August 2.

In 1993, it fell on October 21, in 2003 on September 22, and in 2015 on August 13.

Greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil and gas make up 60 percent of mankind’s ecological “footprint” on the planet, said the groups.

There was some . While coming earlier every year, the advance of Earth Overshoot Day has slowed down, said the statement.

Individuals can contribute to stopping, and eventually reversing, the trend by eating less meat, burning less fuel, and cut back on food waste, said the report.

Abrupt Climate Disruption Intensifies As Planetary Warming Reaches Levels Not Seen For 115,000 Years

In Uncategorized on August 4, 2017 at 5:59 pm

Aerial view of the Amazon, near Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. (Photo: CGIAR / Flickr)

Oldspeak: “The biological annihilation of life on Earth continues apace. When you add “temperature increases measured over recent decades fail to fully reflect the planetary warming that is already in the pipeline for our planet, and showed that the ultimate heating up of the Earth could be much worse than previously feared.” to “The actions necessary to hold to 2 degrees, much less 1.5 degrees (warming), are simply outside the bounds of conventional politics in most countries…. avoiding dangerous climate change will require an immediate and precipitous decline in global carbon emissions over a decade or two. Given that most present-day economic activity is driven by fossil fuels, it would mean, at least temporarily, a net decline in economic activity. No one wants to discuss this.” that equals “We’re fucked.” Dahr Jamail is back with his latest climate catastrophe dispatch, documenting the ongoing deterioration of global biospheric integrity. As usual, shit is bad and all signs point to shit getting worse, as we hyperconsume and overpopulate ourselves to extinction.” –OSJ


Written By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

Camp 41, Brazilian Amazon — Less than 30 years ago, the Earth’s tropical rainforests held the carbon equivalent of half of the entire atmosphere. But as atmospheric CO2 has escalated along with the deforestation of so much of the tropics, that is no longer the case. Nevertheless, carbon stored in tropical rainforests is still significant. According to NASA, “In the early 2000s, forests in the 75 tropical countries studied contained 247 billion tons of carbon. For perspective, about 10 billion tons of carbon is released annually to the atmosphere from combined fossil fuel burning and land use changes.” This is one of the countless reasons why losing them would be catastrophic to life on Earth.

I’m writing this dispatch just having emerged from the heart of the Amazon, the most biodiverse place on the planet. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Tom Lovejoy, known as the “Godfather of Biodiversity,” at the famous Camp 41, which is filled with researchers and scientists. Throughout our conversations, Lovejoy emphasized the staggering amount of biological diversity in the Amazon, which has thousands upon thousands of species of trees, fish, birds, plants and astronomical numbers of insect species.

“We’ve only scratched the surface, and are discovering new species of birds all the time,” said Lovejoy, who was the first person to use the term “biological diversity” in 1980 and made the first projection of global extinction rates in the “Global 2000 Report to the President” that same year.

To see more stories like this, visit “Planet or Profit?”

Lovejoy, who founded the public television series “Nature” and is now a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation and a professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University, views anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) from the perspective of the fact that we are essentially “social primates.”

“We are so stuck on ourselves, we don’t consider the fact that the life sciences are a giant library that is continually acquiring new volumes,” Lovejoy explained. “It’s like we are just a bunch of social primates mutually grooming each other while the environmental lion sneaks up.”

Lovejoy warns that as ACD progresses and temperature limits continue to be exceeded, we are losing parts of the biosphere that we don’t even know exist.

Here in Brazil, I learned of a January 2016 science expedition of 50 scientists who spent 25 days in a remote area of the Amazon and discovered 80 new species.

Lovejoy posed a question for me, that is a warning to us all: “So what does it matter if we go over these limits and lose a few books in the biological library?”

He warned that as we keep removing books from the library — in other words, causing extinctions — we do not know which book(s) could cause a biological death spiral that could bring down the entire system.

An overview of some of the more stunning scientific reports and climate developments underscore this.

For anyone who thinks the biological library analogy might sound extreme, consider the fact that Stanford biologists recently issued something of a prelude to extinction. Having long since warned that the Sixth Mass Extinction event is already well underway, in a study recently published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers said that billions of populations of animals have already disappeared from Earth, amid what they called a “biological annihilation,” and admitted that their findings revealed a situation that was worse than they’d previously thought. The study showed that more than 30 percent of all vertebrates are experiencing declining populations, and the prime drivers of the annihilation are human overpopulation and overconsumption, especially by the rich, as well as habitat destruction, pollution and of course, ACD.

“The resulting biological annihilation obviously will have serious ecological, economic and social consequences,” reads the study. “Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe.”

Meanwhile, a study recently published in Nature revealed that ice-free areas in the Antarctic will surge by up to a quarter (17,000 square kilometers) by 2100 if CO2 emissions are left unchecked.

As if to underscore that point, in July one of the most massive icebergs ever recorded broke free of the Larsen C Ice Shelf. The iceberg itself measures 5,800 square kilometers and is estimated to weigh one trillion tons.

And there are no indications that things will slow down. Recent research from Harvard University published in the journal, Science Advances, revealed that temperature increases measured over recent decades fail to fully reflect the planetary warming that is already in the pipeline for our planet, and showed that the ultimate heating up of the Earth could be much worse than previously feared.

“The worrisome part is that all the models show there is an amplification of the amount of warming in the future,” Cristian Proistosescu of Harvard University, who led the new research, told the Guardian. And the situation might be far worse, as his work shows climate sensitivity could be as high as a stunning 6C.

“Some have suggested that we might be lucky and avoid dangerous climate change without taking determined action if the climate is not very sensitive to CO2 emissions. This work provides new evidence that that chance is remote,” Bill Collins of the University of Reading in the UK told the Guardian.

On that note, an in-depth article published in July in New York Magazine, titled “The Uninhabitable Earth,” is certainly worth reading. The heavily researched piece, which has generated much controversy, notes: “The Earth has experienced five mass extinctions before the one we are living through now, each so complete a slate-wiping of the evolutionary record it functioned as a resetting of the planetary clock, and many climate scientists will tell you they are the best analog for the ecological future we are diving headlong into.”

Similarly, recently published research generated at Cornell University revealed that by 2100, a staggering 2 billion people, or one-fifth of the total global human population, could become ACD refugees due to rising seas alone.

“We’re going to have more people on less land and sooner than we think,” lead author Charles Geisler, professor emeritus of development sociology at Cornell, said. “The future rise in global mean sea level probably won’t be gradual. Yet, few policy makers are taking stock of the significant barriers to entry that coastal climate refugees, like other refugees, will encounter when they migrate to higher ground.”

The New York Times published an important article highlighting global efforts by scientists to build and protect repositories for things like ice, seeds and mammals’ milk in order to preserve them as evidence of a natural order that is rapidly disappearing. Last October, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault became flooded with rain; thankfully it was saved just in time, because otherwise we could have lost the seed backup plan for thousands upon thousands of species of plants. The San Diego Zoo maintains a frozen zoo of cryogenically preserved living cell cultures, sperm, eggs and embryos for 1,000 species, while the National Ice Core lab in Colorado holds approximately 62,000 feet of rods of ice from rapidly melting glaciers and ice fields in the Arctic, Greenland and Antarctica for future study.

Incredibly, a recently released report showed that only 100 companies are the source of more than 70 percent of the entire planet’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.

Meanwhile, global warm temperature records continue to be set at a staggering pace. Global temperatures for June this year were surpassed only by June in 2015 and 2016. If temperatures continue as expected, 2015, 2016 and 2017 will be the three hottest years ever recorded. Estimates now show that warming has reached levels not seen for 115,000 years.


Profound changes are evident on land this summer. Abrupt ACD is a consistent and primary feature of previous mass extinction events. While a slight extinction rate is natural and normal, what we are witnessing today is extremely accelerated. History shows us that sudden and dramatic change in climate was the catalytic event that drove previous extinctions. (Having just come out of the middle of the Amazon rainforest, it is particularly clear to me right now that we’ve little idea how much we are losing already.)

Things are changing fast enough that a multimillion-dollar ACD study in the Canadian Arctic had to be canceled — because of ACD. The four-year study, launched by the University of Manitoba and several other universities, had to cancel the first leg of their study due to warming Arctic temperatures that were causing hazardous sea ice to travel much further south than usual, causing safety concerns for the scientists.

Meanwhile, as sea-level rise projections continue to increase, it is currently estimated that at least two billion people will be driven out of their homes by 2100 and be forced into the interior of their countries to look for new places to settle.

Things are getting hot and dry enough in Montana that farmers there have to consider new ways to grow wheat, while in Morocco, a 2014 study revealed that in the previous decade, the number of nomads in one particular region of that country had fallen by 63 percent in one decade, again due to hotter and drier conditions that made their way of life impossible.


As usual, there is ample evidence of ACD’s impacts across the watery realms.

In the Eastern Pacific, massive numbers of jelly-like organisms that are native to tropical seas are now invading Pacific coastal waters from Southern California all the way up into the Gulf of Alaska. Pyrosomes, which are colonies of hundreds to thousands of tiny zooids, have become so widespread as a result of warming ocean waters, they are causing big problems for commercial fisherfolk: They clog nets, completely preventing fishing in some areas. In May, one single scoop with a research net brought up 60,000 pyrosomes.

Another major issue plaguing the fishing industry along the West Coast of the US is worsening ocean acidification. The region’s billion-dollar fishing industry, along with the fragile coastal ecosystems, is suffering as the oceans continue absorbing more CO2 from the atmosphere and becoming more acidic. In Washington State, another pronounced example of this is that the Puget Sound area’s signature oysters are struggling to survive: They and other shellfish appear to be on their way out, due to the increasing acidity of their habitat.

A recently published study has confirmed that Earth’s oceanic basins are warming more rapidly than ever before in recorded history.

Thus, not surprisingly, the fourth largest ice shelf in Antarctica is in the process of melting down to its smallest area ever recorded, and another report shows that sea level rise around the world is accelerating due to how quickly the Greenland Ice Sheet is melting: That Ice Sheet alone is now responsible for one-quarter of all global sea level rise.

In other melting ice news, have a look at this fascinating tool to view how major glaciers in the Alps have dramatically melted over the last century.

At the other end of the water spectrum, a drought in Northern China has now become the worst in recorded history for that country, as economic losses to farmers in that region are now approaching $1 billion for this year alone.


Hot temperature records and extreme heat waves continue to be the norm, and they are intensifying. In late June, the southwestern US was wracked by extreme heat, as Phoenix and Las Vegas cooked. The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for parts of Southern California and Arizona, cautioning of “a major increase in the potential for heat-related illness and even death.”

Earlier in the summer, Iran saw temperatures reach new heights: The city of Ahvaz experienced one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded on the planet, coming in at 128.66F. Extreme heat also plagued the UK, France, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands, forcing some regions to ration water. Belgium also saw its hottest nighttime temperature ever.

Climate Central, in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization, has created a graphic which you can use to check future temperatures for many major global cities. According to the graphic, up to a dozen cities will heat up so much there is currently no analog on Earth to which we can compare them. “Khartoum, Sudan’s average summer temperature is projected to skyrocket to 111.4°F (44.1°C) if carbon pollution continues unchecked,” the press release that accompanied the graphic stated. “That shift underscores that unless carbon pollution is curbed, the planet could be headed toward a state humans have never experienced.”

report in the Hindustan Times revealed that Delhi could become as hot as the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah by 2100, as the average summer high temperatures in major Indian cities could rise by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius.

As usual in the summers nowadays, there is more bad news on the methane front. Remember, methane is 22 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a 100-year timescale.

The Siberian Times reported recently that two fresh craters were found on the Yamal Peninsula. The newspaper stated that “the formation of both craters involved an explosion followed by fire, evidently signs of the eruption of methane gas pockets under the Yamal surface.” The craters, each of which is approximately 25 feet in diameter and roughly 65 feet deep, can be viewed here.

The heat wracking the planet this summer has been accompanied by intense wildfires.

In Siberia, multiple blazes kicked off wildfire season across the tundra and boreal forest. The fires burned at a rate unheard of for at least the last 10,000 years, and released vast stores of carbon stored in the trees and soil, creating yet another positive feedback loop for ACD: More wildfires create more heat in the atmosphere, which creates more wildfires, and on, and on. The NASA satellite photos of the burning area are disturbing.

Closer to home in California, raging wildfires forced roughly 8,000 people to evacuate as out-of-control fires destroyed homes and threatened thousands of other structures.

Along coastal Alaska and Canada’s Northwest Territory, large wildfires burned near the shores of the Arctic Ocean — water that was, until recently, frozen. In British Columbia, 14,000 people have fled as more than 1,000 firefighters battle numerous large blazes.

Drier dry spells and higher temperatures mean longer, more intense wildfire seasons, which is precisely what we are seeing. The US this year is on pace to have a record-breaking wildfire year, with at least 3.5 million acres burned already. By April, early on in wildfire season, more than 2 million acres had burned, which is nearly the average consumed in entire fire seasons during the 1980s.

Denial and Reality

There’s never a dull moment in the denial world these days.
In Florida, that state’s extremist ACD-denying Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation making it easier for Florida residents to challenge science that is taught in public schools, so if an ACD-denying parent doesn’t like a science textbook that teaches the basic physics of how greenhouse gases work, the book could end up being banned.

Trump-appointed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, an ACD denier and pink slipped 38 members of the EPA’s Board of Scientific advisors, which is merely a drop in the bucket compared to dozens of other major environmental roll-backs the Trump administration has pulled off thus far, including forcing NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] to erase human activity references to greenhouse gases in its Annual Greenhouse Gas Index.

Thankfully, reality continues to thrive in other parts of the world: In France, the sale of petrol and diesel cars will be banned beginning in 2040 — just one of the steps that country is taking to meet its portion of the Paris climate agreement.

Surprisingly, in the US a recent poll by Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communication showed that roughly two-fifths of the population believe ACD is likely to kill off all humans.

In other positive news, slowly but surely more reports addressing overpopulation’s critical role in ACD are surfacing. One published in July in the Guardian suggested people who are serious about doing something about ACD should have fewer children. By way of example, a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters calculated that having one less child would bring a reduction of 58 tons of CO2 for each year of a parent’s life.

This suggests, in turn, that countries that are serious about addressing ACD should be developing strong protections for reproductive rights, increasing the availability of birth control and abortion, working toward gender justice and ensuring that comprehensive sex education is provided in all schools.

A mega-dose of reality for all of us here on Earth: Earth’s sixth mass extinction event is already well underway, the aforementioned event researchers are already referring to as causing the “biological annihilation” of wildlife, and that is already far more severe than previously feared.

“It’s as simple as bacteria in a test tube,” was Lovejoy’s response when I asked his take on the overpopulation crisis. “You can only have so many before you run out of nutrients.”