Opinion | Are There Better Places to Put Large Solar Farms Than These Forests? – The New York Times

Mr. Popkin is an independent journalist who writes about science and the environment. He has written extensively about threats to trees and forests.

“CHARLOTTE COURT HOUSE, Va. — In Charlotte County, population 11,448, forests and farms slope gently toward pretty little streams. The Roanoke River, whose floodplain includes one of the most ecologically valuable and intact forests in the Mid-Atlantic, forms the county’s southwestern border.

On a recent driving tour, a local conservationist, P.K. Pettus, told me she’s already grieving the eventual loss of much of this beautiful landscape. The Randolph Solar Project, a 4,500-acre project that will take out some 3,500 acres of forest during construction, was approved in July to join at least five other solar farms built or planned here thanks to several huge transmission lines that crisscross the county. When built, it will become one of the largest solar installations east of the Rocky Mountains. Although she is all for clean energy, Ms. Pettus opposed the project’s immense size, fearing it would destroy forests, disrupt soil and pollute streams and rivers in the place she calls home.”

Failure to Slow Warming Will Set Off Climate ‘Tipping Points,’ Scientists Say – The New York Times

“Failure to limit global warming to the targets set by international accords will most likely set off several climate “tipping points,” a team of scientists said on Thursday, with irreversible effects including the collapse of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, abrupt thawing of Arctic permafrost and the death of coral reefs.

The researchers said that even at the current level of warming, about 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, some of these self-sustaining changes might have already begun. But if warming reached above 1.5 degrees Celsius, the more ambitious of two targets set by the 2015 Paris Agreement, the changes would become much more certain.

And at the higher Paris target, 2 degrees Celsius, even more tipping points would likely be set off, including the loss of mountain glaciers and the collapse of a system of deep mixing of water in the North Atlantic.

The changes would have significant, long-term effects on life on Earth. The collapse of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, for example, would lead to unrelenting sea level rise, measured in feet, not inches, over centuries. The thawing of permafrost would release more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, hindering efforts to limit warming. A shutdown of ocean mixing in the North Atlantic could affect global temperatures and bring more extreme weather to Europe.”

David Lindsay:  In my humble opinion, there is nothing in the world more important than learning about climate crisis tipping points, and cascading events. If this beautiful earth were a raw egg, would you want to poach it?

Climate Change Is Ravaging the Colorado River. There’s a Model to Avert the Worst. – The New York Times

Fountain and Fremson traveled to Yakima, Wash. to see how collaboration solved a water crisis.

“YAKIMA, Wash. — The water managers of the Yakima River basin in arid Central Washington know what it’s like to fight over water, just like their counterparts along the Colorado River are fighting now. They know what it’s like to be desperate, while drought, climate change, population growth and agriculture shrink water supplies to crisis levels.

They understand the acrimony among the seven Colorado Basin states, unable to agree on a plan for deep cuts in water use that the federal government has demanded to stave off disaster.

But a decade ago, the water managers of the Yakima Basin tried something different. Tired of spending more time in courtrooms than at conference tables, and faced with studies showing the situation would only get worse, they hashed out a plan to manage the Yakima River and its tributaries for the next 30 years to ensure a stable supply of water.

The circumstances aren’t completely parallel, but some experts on Western water point to the Yakima plan as a model for the kind of cooperative effort that needs to happen on the Colorado right now.”

Toxic Red Tide Kills ‘Uncountable’ Numbers of Fish in the Bay Area – The New York Times

“A harmful algal bloom known as a red tide is killing off “uncountable” numbers of fish in the San Francisco Bay Area, with residents reporting rust-colored waters, and piles of stinking fish corpses washing ashore.

The fish, first reported dead along the San Mateo County shoreline last Tuesday, are most likely being asphyxiated as a result of the algae, said Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist with San Francisco Baykeeper, an environmental group that is tracking the fish kill.

Government scientists have identified the dominant species causing the bloom as Heterosigma akashiwo, a microscopic swimming algae that can cause red tides. The bloom is affecting the water in the San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay and South Bay.

While such algal blooms are not uncommon, the scope and deadliness of the one in the Bay Area is concerning, Dr. Rosenfield said. Even the hardiest of fish, like the sturgeon, an ancient creature, are dying, he said. Bat rays, striped bass, yellowfin gobies and even sharks are washing ashore dead.

“What we’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg,” Dr. Rosenfield said, adding that many more fish were likely to have died at the bottom of the bay. It was over the weekend, he said, that the horrifying breadth of the situation became clear, when dead fish were appearing on nearly “every public shoreline” in the region.

He added, “We’re continuing to get reports of dead and dying fish.”

Though scientists can’t be certain what caused the algal bloom, experts say it is likely a combination of factors including warm water temperatures and a high concentration of phosphorus and nitrogen — the runoff from urban and agricultural sources as well as dozens of wastewater treatment plants that surround San Francisco Bay.”

Heat, Water, Fire: How Climate Change Is Transforming the Pacific Crest Trail – The New York Times

“In the desert near Agua Dulce, north of Los Angeles, hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail who reached mile marker 502 encountered a cistern of water that smelled bad and tasted worse, with a dead rat floating inside. They got out their filters and refilled their bottles anyway. “Will update if I get sick,” one wrote on a message board to those coming up behind.

The message was just one sign of how global warming is affecting life along the trail, where, during a hot season nearly devoid of rain, water tanks and caches were more important than ever, the last line of defense against dehydration. At least some hikers willing to take their chances.

Thru-hikers on the P.C.T. spend up to five months walking from Mexico to Canada, through a landscape that ranges from high desert scrub to giant sequoias, basalt craters and alpine meadows. The route changes slightly each year, meaning that the trail’s official length, 2,650 miles, is really only an estimate.”

David Lindsay: I never got to the PCT. Here is a good comment from someone who did.
Erik Frederiksen
Asheville, NC6h ago

The first time I backpacked in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains was 40 years ago. The last time was a year ago when I still lived there and it was depressing. There were a lot of standing dead trees killed by bark beetles, a lot of dead and dying seedlings. There were giant trees knocked down by a freak wind storm, winds of more than 150mph. After that I hiked through an area burned by the Donnell Fire. By far the most trees you saw there were blackened skeletons. The streams ran anemically due to minimal snowpack. After these new hotter fires the forests don’t seem to be recovering. Same with places like the Amazon, the forest becomes savanna. This kind of devastation is being observed in so many ecosystems, from corals to kelp and mangrove forests, etc etc. Everything we need to survive is starting to crash around us and we just keep on walking into this future with our eyes open.

3 Replies170 Recommended

Europe’s Scorching Summer Puts Unexpected Strain on Energy Supply – The New York Times

“ASERAL, Norway — In a Nordic land famous for its steep fjords, where water is very nearly a way of life, Sverre Eikeland scaled down the boulders that form the walls of one of Norway’s chief reservoirs, past the driftwood that protruded like something caught in the dam’s teeth, and stood on dry land that should have been deeply submerged.

“You see the band where the vegetation stops,” said Mr. Eikeland, 43, the chief operating officer of Agder Energi, pointing at a stark, arid line 50 feet above the Skjerkevatn reservoir’s surface. “That’s where the water level should be.” “

Irish Farmers Help Save a Bird Whose Calls Used to Herald Summer – Ed O’Loughlin – The New York Times

BELMULLET, Ireland — The call of the corncrake — a small, shy bird related to the coot — is harsh and monotonous, yet for older generations it was a beloved sound of summer in Ireland, evoking wistful memories of warm weather, hay making and romantic nights.

These days, though, its call is seldom heard outside a few scattered enclaves along the western coast, like Belmullet, a remote peninsula of County Mayo. Once numerous, the birds became threatened in much of their Western European range in the late 20th century, mainly because of changes in agricultural practices that deprived them of places to breed.

“Older people still talk about coming home from dances in summer nights and hearing the corncrakes calling from the fields all around them,” said Anita Donaghy, assistant head of conservation at Birdwatch Ireland. “You hear about them making special trips to places in the west where they are going to hear the corncrake again. It’s sad that many young people have never heard it.”

But there is hope for the return of the corncrake’s call. In recent years, conservationists, government agencies and farmers have come together to try to reverse the decline in numbers of the corncrakes — and preserve the corncrake’s “kek kek” for new generations.”.

Daniel Rothberg | The Coming Crisis Along the Colorado River – The New York Times

Mr. Rothberg is a reporter for The Nevada Independent, where he covers the environment, water and energy. He is writing a book about water scarcity in Nevada.

“It’s past time to get real about the Southwest’s hardest-working river.

About 40 million people rely on the Colorado River as it flows from Colorado to Mexico. But overuse and climate change have contributed to its reservoirs drying up at such a rapid rate that the probability of disastrous disruptions to the deliveries of water and hydroelectric power across the Southwest have become increasingly likely. Now the seven states that depend on the river must negotiate major cuts in water use by mid-August or have them imposed by the federal government.

Those cuts are merely the beginning as the region struggles to adapt to an increasingly arid West. The rules for operating the river’s shrinking reservoirs expire in 2026, and those seven states must forge a new agreement on water use for farmers, businesses and cities.”

David Wallace-Wells | It’s Been a ‘Summer of Disasters,’ and It’s Only Half Over – The New York Times

    Opinion Writer

” “We’re naming summer ‘Danger Season’ in the U.S.,” wrote Kristy Dahl, the principal climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, in early June. A couple of days later, at Axios, the climate reporter Andrew Freedman echoed that warning: “America is staring down a summer of disasters.”

The season is now only half over, and the worst months for California fires, which typically provide the most harrowing images of the summer, still lie ahead. But the calendar has already been stuffed with climate disruption, so much so that one disaster often seemed layered over the last, with newspaper front pages almost identical across the Northern Hemisphere. In July, Carbon Brief’s Simon Evans began compiling them on Twitter, running out of steam when he got past 100. Climate segments of newscasts cut quickly from one part of the world to another, telling almost identical stories, day after day.

And yet the mood of those newscasts — in which warming is shown clearly to be blanketing the world, country by country — has mixed horror with a reluctant acceptance. Climate change is here, you think, your mind perhaps drifting past what can be done to limit future warming and toward what can be done to manage living in that future. The disruptions are large already, and arriving as prophesied — indeed, often earlier than predicted. They’ve also been normalized enough that, alongside the shock, they raise practical questions.

The term for this is “adaptation,” and the wallpaper texture of the climate news cycle this summer — with once-horrifying impacts now seeming commonplace — suggests that efforts to acclimate to new realities are following quite quickly on the footsteps of alarm.”

Philip Cafaro
Fort Collins, CO Aug. 3

“Adaptation isn’t a cure all,” even for people. And let’s not forget, it does nothing for the millions of other species we are taking down with us.

1 Reply224 Recommended

 
Frish commented August 3

Frish
Los AngelesAug. 3

I’m an anthropologist and I’ve been studying this for 50 years. We’ve already disrupted the biosphere’s ability to continue supporting human life, we just haven’t seen the full effects yet. Because of the speed with which we’ve included CO2 in the atmosphere many species will not be able to cope with the resulting outcomes. The last mass extinction took 60,000 years to develop. We’ve made our increases in the last 200 years and more so since 1950. Few things can adapt evolutionarily to that dramatic increase and speed of a change. The jet stream is already meandering. when the jet stream goes chaotic there won’t be a planting season hence no agriculture but there won’t be any seasons at all hence millions of species will be going extinct. Children always come with a death sentence but now a newborn faces extinction as a future. The only moral choice is to not have children. Besides that’s the best thing an individual can do to reduce one’s impact on the environment. I continue to be amazed that no media is suggesting that anyone stop having children but there will come a time in the not too distant future when the realization that we have no future will be more commonplace.

10 Replies216 Recommended

 
Erik Frederiksen commented August 3

Erik Frederiksen
Asheville, NCAug. 3

The carbon cycle for the last 2 million years was doing 180-280ppm atmospheric CO2 over 10,000 years and we’ve done more change than that in 100 years. The last time CO2 went from 180-280ppm global temperature increased by around 4 degrees C and sea level rose 130 meters. (graph of the last 400,000 years of global temperature, CO2 and sea level http://www.ces.fau.edu/nasa/images/impacts/slr-co2-temp-400000yrs.jpg ) One amplifying feedback alone out of dozens, loss of albedo or heat reflectivity from Arctic summer sea ice melt, over the last several decades has been equivalent to 25 percent of the climate forcing of anthropogenic CO2. And that will continue to increase as that ice disappears by mid century. The Titanic sank because by the time the lookout called the warning the ship had too much momentum to turn. The Earth has a lot more momentum, e.g. we’ve already likely locked in at least 6 meters of sea level rise from the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets and decade to decade warming in the near term is also virtually locked in. That momentum is building and the higher we let global temperatures rise the greater the risk of them going really high as amplifying feedbacks strengthen.

6 Replies145 Recommended

Mexico’s Drought: Country Faces a Water Emergency – The New York Times

“Mexico, or large parts of it, is running out of water.

An extreme drought has seen taps run dry across the country, with nearly two-thirds of all municipalities facing a water shortage that is forcing people in some places to line up for hours for government water deliveries.

The lack of water has grown so extreme that irate residents block highways and kidnap municipal workers to demand more supply.

The numbers underlining the crisis are startling: In July, eight of Mexico’s 32 states were experiencing extreme to moderate drought, resulting in 1,546 of the country’s 2,463 municipalities confronting water shortages, according to the National Water Commission.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
“Was blind, but now I see.” from Amazing Grace
“All around the world, the oceans are rising while the coral reefs are slowly dying.
Wake up, my friends, the scientists cry World temperature is rising, and it’s no lie!”
From Talking Climate Change Blues, by David Lindsay Jr
David blogs at InconvenietNews.net
Erik Frederiksen commented 20 minutes ago

Erik Frederiksen
Asheville, NC20m ago

Remember this is what is happening long before feeling the full impacts of a rise in temperature of just 1.2°C due to lags in the system. From a 2012 paper, see the graph below of western North America precipitation from 1900-2100 on p 555 of the paper, it makes the recent western drought look like a rainforest by comparison. We’re edging close to the precipice, in fact we may have already gone over and just don’t know it yet. It depends on our future emissions and the rate and amplitude of amplifying feedbacks like ice and permafrost melt. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2128&context=usdaarsfacpub

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