Brazil's Trump, right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, formally authorized deployment of military forces in the Amazon rainforest region, purportedly to fight deforestation and fires. Surely the massive influx of armed troops to the region populated by indigenous people won't result in coronavirus infections and COVID-19 deaths. The decree was published in the government gazette today. Read the rest
More often than not, the solutions for slowing the roll of our planet into an untenable ball of environmental disasters is right under our noses—protect green spaces. End the use fossil fuels. Recycle, repair or up-cycle the living shit out of everything we own or consume.
Also, be certain to check in piles of dead leaves for scientific breakthroughs.
From The Guardian:
A mutant bacterial enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles for recycling in hours has been created by scientists.
The enzyme, originally discovered in a compost heap of leaves, reduced the bottles to chemical building blocks that were then used to make high-quality new bottles. Existing recycling technologies usually produce plastic only good enough for clothing and carpets.
The company behind the breakthrough, Carbios, said it was aiming for industrial-scale recycling within five years. It has partnered with major companies including Pepsi and L’Oréal to accelerate development. Independent experts called the new enzyme a major advance.
Considering the fact that we've found plastic waste damn near everywhere we've gone looking for it, Carbios' breakthrough has the potential to become a huge deal in our fight to save our home.
While the enzyme only made its debut to the scientific community, this month, as a potential plastic-gobbling miracle, it was originally discovered back in 2012. Sometimes, it takes the scientific community a while to get traction. But, once they have their shit together (along with the support of our institutions, applicable laws and the cash they need in order to do their research) what can be achieved is, sometimes, astonishing. Read the rest
Professor Katharine Hayhoe is one of the leading voices on climate action in North America. In the most recent episode of her Global Weirding webseries — the second in a two-part series — she discusses the impact on and relationship between global warming and human action in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While she's undoubtedly an advocate for climate action, Hayhoe's great appeal lies in her ability to discuss such issues with nuance, looking at both the ways that the changing climate can affect viruses, and the grand scheme macro-view of how a short-term reduction in factory production does and does not affect the trajectory of our climate.
Here's part one, if you're interested:
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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena today reports new evidence of accelerating glacier melt in Antarctica.
“Observations from 11 satellite missions monitoring the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have revealed that the regions are losing ice six times faster than they were in the 1990s,” reads the NASA JPL announcement.
“If the current melting trend continues, the regions will be on track to match the "worst-case" scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of an extra 6.7 inches (17 centimeters) of sea level rise by 2100.”
The two regions have lost 6.4 trillion tons of ice in three decades; unabated, this rate of melting could cause flooding that affects hundreds of millions of people by 2100.
More from the news announcement:
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The findings, published online March 12 in the journal Nature from an international team of 89 polar scientists from 50 organizations, are the most comprehensive assessment to date of the changing ice sheets. The Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise team combined 26 surveys to calculate changes in the mass of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets between 1992 and 2018.
The assessment was supported by NASA and the European Space Agency. The surveys used measurements from satellites including NASA's Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite and the joint NASA-German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. Andrew Shepherd at the University of Leeds in England and Erik Ivins at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California led the study.
The team calculated that the two ice sheets together lost 81 billion tons per year in the 1990s, compared with 475 billion tons of ice per year in the 2010's - a sixfold increase.
Scientists say 20.75º C logged at Seymour Island is ‘incredible and abnormal’
The US government provides federal funds to states to help with disaster relief. This much hasn't changed under the Trump administration. In fact, in 2018, Ben Carson's Department of Housing and Urban Development launched a new program rewarding $28 billion dollars in financial support relating to natural disasters.
Curiously, that press release was taken down a few days after the New York Times reported on it — specifically, on its favoritism towards red states that still won't formally admit that climate change exists:
The money is distributed according to a formula benefiting states most affected by disasters in 2015, 2016 and 2017. That formula favors Republican-leaning states along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, which were hit particularly hard during that period.
Texas is in line for more than $4 billion, the most of any state. The next largest sums go to Louisiana ($1.2 billion), Florida ($633 million), North Carolina ($168 million) and South Carolina ($158 million), all of which voted Republican in the 2016 presidential election.
The other states getting funding are West Virginia, Missouri, Georgia and California, the only state getting money that voted Democratic in the presidential race of 2016.
Of course, these states have to submit proposals explaining why they need these funds. According to the Times, the proposal from Texas refers to things like “changing coastal conditions,” while South Carolina says that three major storms in four years have caused “destabilizing effects and unpredictability.” But none of them actually, explicitly mention climate change — except for Louisiana, in an appendix reference on the final page. Read the rest
Polar bears have been at the shit end of the global warming stick for some time now. Food has grown scarce for the massive beasts, causing them to move inland in search of sustenance, eat carcasses they never would have touched in the past and, apparently, look to flying camera drones as a potential source of nutrition. Read the rest
Ten years ago, we showed you a method for baking cookies on your car dashboard on hot days while you're at work, filling your car with delicious baking smells and a tray of warm cookies for the commute home.
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While some who saw this variable message sign in Houston though it had been hacked, it's actually a roadside art installation by Brooklyn artist Justin Brice Guariglia. Read the rest
A new study on polar ice sheet melt warns that global sea levels could rise by almost six feet by the year 2100, an estimate twice as high as previously predicted. Read the rest
2018 was the fourth warmest year ever recorded on planet Earth, NOAA reported today. Read the rest
A massive cavity so large you could fit New York City inside of it has opened up under Thwaites glacier in Antarctica. Scientists say if it collapses, as it's likely to do within the next 50 to 100 years, it could cause a catastrophic rise in sea levels capable of flood coastal cities around the world. Read the rest
Over the next century, higher temperatures and an increased number of droughts will hit the global barley supply, pushing beer prices way up. University of East Anglia economist Dabo Guan and his colleagues developed multiple scenarios based on several climate and economic models. Nature:
The researchers then simulated the effect of these droughts and heat waves on barley production by using software to model crop growth and yield on the basis of weather and other variables.
They found that, globally, this extreme weather would reduce barley yield by between 3% and 17%. Some countries fared better than others: tropical areas such as Central and South America were hit badly, but crop yields actually increased in certain temperate areas, including northern China and the United States. Some areas of those countries saw yield increases of up to 90% — but this was not enough to offset the global decrease.
Finally, Guan and his colleagues fed these changes in barley yield into an existing economic model that can account for changes in supply and demand in the global market. This enabled them to look at how reduced barley production would affect pricing and consumption of beer in countries, as well as trade between nations.
In the worst-case scenario, the reduced barley supply worldwide would result in a 16% decrease in global beer consumption in the years of extreme-weather events. Prices would, on average, double...
One goal of the research, Guan says, was to make tangible how "climate change will impact people’s lifestyle... Read the rest
Thanks to climate change, folks living in regions that were once tick-free zones have had to begin getting used to the blood-thirsty little bastards. Just as these unfortunate souls were getting used to this new reality, it seems that the bugs, which up until now have been happy working solo, are ganging up for all new levels of blood-draining terror.
According to Ars Technica, a species of tick that’s been a massive pain in the ass in Asia has made its way to North America. Currently doing its thing on the United States' eastern seaboard, the Asian Longhorned Tick travels in swarms and has the potential to spread all sorts of ugly diseases to livestock, pets and humans alike.
From Ars Technica:
Key to the tick’s explosive spread and bloody blitzes is that its invasive populations tend to reproduce asexually, that is, without mating. Females drop up to 2,000 eggs over the course of two or three weeks, quickly giving rise to a ravenous army of clones. In one US population studied so far, experts encountered a massive swarm of the ticks in a single paddock, totaling well into the thousands. They speculated that the population might have a ratio of about one male to 400 females.
Most troubling is the fact that the Asian Longhorned Tick is known to carry a recently discovered virus that causes SFTS: severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome. Those that contract SFTS can expect a wide range of terrifying symptoms including “fever, vomiting, hemorrhaging, and organ failure.” Read the rest
These animated charts from Bloomberg looking at the possible causes of climate change show that the only thing that has really taken off in the last century is greenhouse gasses. Natural factors - orbital changes, sun temperature variation, volcanoes - have hardly changed. Other human factors - land use, ozone pollution, and aerosol pollution - have actually decreased. Read the rest