Even with climate accord, Planet Earth is burned; without it, it's cooked

NYMag's David Wallace-Wells breaks it to us ungently: the Paris Climate Accord, torn up by Trump, was already a compromise that likely condemned much of the equatorial belt to crippling heatwaves. Without it, climate change will only be worse.

Even if we meet the Paris goals of two degrees warming, cities like Karachi and Kolkata will become close to uninhabitable, annually encountering deadly heat waves like those that crippled them in 2015. At four degrees, the deadly European heat wave of 2003, which killed as many as 2,000 people a day, will be a normal summer. At six, according to an assessment focused only on effects within the U.S. from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, summer labor of any kind would become impossible in the lower Mississippi Valley, and everybody in the country east of the Rockies would be under more heat stress than anyone, anywhere, in the world today. As Joseph Romm has put it in his authoritative primer Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know, heat stress in New York City would exceed that of present-day Bahrain, one of the planet’s hottest spots, and the temperature in Bahrain “would induce hyperthermia in even sleeping humans.” The high-end IPCC estimate, remember, is two degrees warmer still.
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The Balkan blobject robot at the 2073 Venice Biennale

Bruce Sterling's short story "The Beachcomber of Novi Kotor" is a monologue by a rogue Montenegran artist-roboticist, delivered at the 85th Venice Biennale, in a world where climate change has made venices out of all the world's low-lying cities, where Montenegro has been plunged into economic collapse by the precipitous departure of the neo-Czarist Russian oligarchs whose tourist trade it depended on. Read the rest

A primer on the Paris climate agreement and the cost of withdrawing from it

Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers offers a simple intro to the Paris climate accord and why it matters that Donald Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from it. Read the rest

The 2017 Hurricane season has started, but Trump hasn't appointed a FEMA or NOAA director

Hurricane season officially began yesterday, but let's hope now more than ever that one doesn't hit the US anytime soon. Because guess what? No one is in charge of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency that predicts and forecasts hurricanes ahead of a storm. And for an extra thrill, no one is in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) either, the agency that responds to disasters and offers relief.

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France trolls Trump on decision to withdraw from Paris Accord

The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs tweeted a 🔥 video today on Trump's Paris Accord decision.

After president Emmanuel Macron's epic tweet yesterday, this is something else.

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Macron rewrites Trump campaign slogan as "Make Our Planet Great Again"

Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, rewrote U.S. President Donald Trump's 'MAGA' campaign slogan today in protest of the administration's absurd withdrawal from the Paris climate accords. "Make Our Planet Great Again," says Macron. We're in alignment with Nicaragua and Syria, says Trump.

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Bill Nye: 'You can't build a border wall against carbon dioxide emissions'

Media Matters highlighted this terrific clip of Bill Nye explaining how stupid it is that Trump is likely canceling America's participation in the Paris climate accord.

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The arctic seed bank that was going to save us all is flooding

Strategically placed to survive any natural disaster, this winter's rains flooded the arctic seed bank. The bank wasn't destroyed, but it shows how fast things are a changing.

The Guardian:

It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.

The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide “failsafe” protection against “the challenge of natural or man-made disasters”.

But soaring temperatures in the Arctic at the end of the world’s hottest ever recorded year led to melting and heavy rain, when light snow should have been falling. “It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that,” said Hege Njaa Aschim, from the Norwegian government, which owns the vault.

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Poor Alabama county is a hotbed of "neglected tropical diseases"

The Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise worked with Houston's National School of Tropical Medicine to sample "soil and water...blood and faecal samples" from Alabama's Lowndes County, a poor rural area. Read the rest

You can't consume your way out of global warming

When inventor and MacArthur "genius grant" recipient Saul Griffith started reading papers about global warning that were written in 1974 (the same year he was born) he discovered that "all the problems we face today are familiar from 43 years ago. All the proposed solutions are similar. Merely the motivation was a little different." In this episode of For Future Reference, a new podcast from Institute for the Future, David Pescovitz and I talk with Griffith about how we need new mindsets as much as new technologies to alleviate climate change.

Please subscribe to For Future Reference a podcast series about the expanding horizons of science, technology, and culture over the next decade: iTunes, RSS, Soundcloud

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Yes, flights are getting more turbulent thanks to climate change

Advances in Atmospheric Sciences reports that flying is going to get more and more turbulent, even at cruising altitudes, because of climate change:

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Tucker Carlson argues with Bill Nye about climate change

In this video, Tucker Carlson keeps saying Bill Nye is not a scientist, but a "popularizer," which Carlson seems to think means global warming is bogus. Best part is near the end when Nye picks up his phone and shows the stopwatch with six seconds on it and says to Carlson, "This is how long it takes you to interrupt me." Read the rest

Climate change: Apocalypse by 1000 cuts

Not since the Reagan era cold war with Russia has apocalyptic awareness been so forefront in the public’s mind. Disturbing incidents ranging from nuclear football Facebook selfies to alarming North Korean military activity now accrue weekly. Sometimes hourly. What can one do besides scroll through Twitter before bedtime and let the news populate our nightmares?

The distractions and details are addictive: political murders via improv and a spray bottle, daily revelations of Russian infiltration in US elections and government, and today the president is yelling at Sweden. Tomorrow it might be Ireland. Who knows. We watch the global breakup like helpless children realizing that mom and dad are really getting a divorce. Right now, the sitting US president is not even welcome in the British Parliament, but he regularly tweets flattering sentiments to Russia. But there is a larger story that needs telling--and action.

Lost in the noise was the recent breakage of a mile-long stretch of West Antarctica, due to warmer ocean water. It was part of one of the largest glaciers within the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which scientists predict will collapse in the next 100 years. NASA caught the images of the event earlier in the week, but the story broke just as Scott Pruitt was confirmed as head of the Environmental Protection Agency--making it seem as if the Earth did the planetary version of a spit take at the news. Timing aside, it was a big deal.

In the distraction of every new development, tweet, or outrage, it’s hard to get a bird’s eye view of what the hell is going on in the literal world. Read the rest

Temperature in Oklahoma reaches 99 degrees in mid-February

A heat-wave hit Oklahoma, sending temperatures into the high 90s. Norman, Oklahoma was 99 degrees F (37 C) on February 11.

From ThinkProgress:

Many people may welcome a temperate day in February, but warm weather in normally cold months disrupts ecosystems. Trees may bloom after an unseasonably balmy spell — and then suffer frost damage when cold weather returns. Flowers may blossom and shed their petals before bees arrive to pollinate them. These minor destabilizations have a ripple effect, impacting flora, fauna, and the industries built around them.

In Oklahoma, the spike in temperature is particularly ironic, given the state’s political climate. [Sen. James "Snowball" Inhofe (R-OK)] is Washington’s most vocal climate denier, having published a book alleging that climate change is a hoax while serving as the ranking Republican member of the Senate Environment Committee.

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Trump's first 4 days: a ban on disclosing scientific facts and felony charges for journalists

It's only been a handful of days since Donald Trump took office, but we're already getting strong signals about the sort of administration he intends to run: workers at US government agencies have been banned from making any public disclosures of the research they conduct at public expense until new political minders can be installed to ensure that these facts don't contradict Trump's official narrative; and six journalists have been charged with felonies for covering the protests during the inauguration.

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Trump's five most "anti-science" moves

Scientific American summarized five of Donald Trump's "major moves many see as hostile toward science." They are:

• Trump’s pick for head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has actively battled its mission

"To lead the EPA, Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who has long opposed environmental regulations and has questioned the science behind climate change."

He chose former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for Energy Secretary

"It is a science-heavy department, and one that (climate change skeptic) Perry—who is not a scientist—had advocated dismantling during his 2012 presidential bid."

He chose an energy company executive for secretary of State

"Trump tapped former ExxonMobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State."

• He met with a vaccine critic while planning a commission on autism

"(Robert Kennedy, Jr) has repeatedly promoted discredited arguments that link vaccines to autism."

His transition team sought information about Energy Department staff associated with climate change

"In December Trump’s team asked the DoE for the names of employees who have worked on issues related to climate change."

"Trump's 5 Most 'Anti-Science” Moves (Scientific American) Read the rest

Man has lived alone in Colorado ghost town for 40 years

In 1972 billy barr (he spells it lowercase) was a Rutgers University environmental science student and did some research in Gothic, Colorado, a ghost town built around a silver mine. The native New Jerseyan returned after graduation and has lived in the town as its sole full-time resident ever since. He has also taken meticulous snowfall and temperature measurements, which have proven valuable to climate scientists.

From Oddity Central:

“The trend I see is that we’re getting permanent snow pack later, and we get to bare ground sooner,” barr says. “We’ll have years where there was a lot of snow on the ground, and then we lose snow sooner than years that had a lot less snow just because it’s a lot warmer now.”

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