Skipped Showers, Paper Plates: An Arizona Suburb’s Water Is Cut Off – The New York Times

7 MIN READ

RIO VERDE, Ariz. — Joe McCue thought he had found a desert paradise when he bought one of the new stucco houses sprouting in the granite foothills of Rio Verde, Ariz. There were good schools, mountain views and cactus-spangled hiking trails out the back door.

Then the water got cut off.

Has the Amazon Reached Its ‘Tipping Point’? – The New York Times

Listen to This Article  Audio Recording by Audm Listen 53:03

“One of the first times Luciana Vanni Gatti tried to collect Amazonian air she got so woozy that she couldn’t even operate the controls. An atmospheric chemist, she wanted to measure the concentration of carbon high above the rainforest. To obtain her samples she had to train bush pilots at obscure air-taxi businesses. The discomfort began as she waited on the tarmac, holding one door open against the wind to keep the tiny cockpit from turning into an oven in the equatorial sun. When at last they took off, they rose precipitously, and every time they plunged into a cloud, the plane seemed to be, in Gatti’s words, sambando — dancing the samba. Then the air temperature dipped below freezing, and her sweat turned cold.

Not that it was all bad. As the frenetic port of Manaus receded, the canopy spread out below like a shaggy carpet, immaculate green except for the pink and yellow blooms of ipê trees, and it was one of those moments — increasingly rare in Gatti’s experience — when you could pretend that nature had no final border, and the Amazon looked like what it somehow still was, the world’s largest rainforest.”

David Lindsay:  This undercuts the idea of a happy new year. Here are two of a number of comments I liked:

Erik Frederiksen
Asheville, NC4h ago

1/2 We see the evidence that just like the organs of the human body the elements of the earth system are causally coupled together, and if you tip one you’re going to have consequences for others. Most notably we know that the Arctic is warming four times as fast as the global average, because of the retreat of the sea ice exposing a dark ocean that absorbs far more sunlight. We know that Arctic warming is accelerating the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the permafrost which locks up more than twice the carbon that is currently in the atmosphere. Arctic warming is also causing much more rainfall in the arctic that freshens up the surface of the North Atlantic ocean and contributes to an observed weakening of the great overturning circulation of the Atlantic ocean (AMOC) which kind of drags heat at the surface from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere and gives us a nice equable climate in Western Europe but also sets the position of a great band of rainfall all the way around the tropics.

2 Replies28 Recommended

Pablo Mas commented 4 hours ago

Pablo Mas
Chicago4h ago

Coalition of modern nations should seize the Amazon as a vital global resource to secure it before catastrophe. The Americans have the resources and fortitude to lead the initiative. It’s too important to leave solely in the hands of Brazilian politics; they’ve squandered their responsibility and privilege.

1 Reply27 Recommended

A Toxic Stew on Cape Cod: Human Waste and Warming Water – The New York Times

Flavelle spent time on Cape Cod with residents, officials and waste experts.

8 MIN READ

“MASHPEE, Mass. — Ashley K. Fisher walked to the edge of the boat, pulled on a pair of thick black waders, and jumped into the river to search for the dead.

She soon found them: the encrusted remains of ribbed mussels, choked in gray-black goo that smelled like garbage and felt like mayonnaise. The muck on the bottom of the Mashpee River gets deeper every year, suffocating what grows there. It came up to Ms. Fisher’s waist. She struggled to free herself and climb back aboard.

“I did not think I was going to sink down that far,” said Ms. Fisher, Mashpee’s director of natural resources, laughing. Her officers once had to yank a stranded resident out of the gunk by tying him to a motorboat and opening the throttle.

The muck is what becomes of the poisonous algae that is taking over more of Cape Cod’s rivers and bays each summer.”

COP15 Biodiversity Talks: Countries Sign On to “30×30” Conservation Plan – The New York Times

“MONTREAL, Quebec — Roughly 190 countries early on Monday approved a sweeping United Nations agreement to protect 30 percent of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030 and to take a slew of other measures against biodiversity loss, a mounting under-the-radar crisis that, if left unchecked, jeopardizes the planet’s food and water supplies as well as the existence of untold species around the world.

The agreement comes as biodiversity is declining worldwide at rates never seen before in human history. Researchers have projected that a million plants and animals are at risk of extinction, many within decades. While many scientists and activists had pushed for even stronger measures, the deal, which includes verification mechanisms that previous agreements had lacked, clearly signals increasing momentum around the issue.

“This is a huge moment for nature,” Brian O’Donnell, director of the Campaign for Nature, a coalition of groups pushing for protections, said about the agreement. “This is a scale of conservation that we haven’t seen ever attempted before.”

Overall, the deal lays out a suite of 23 conservation targets. The most prominent, known as 30×30, would place 30 percent of land and sea under protection. Currently, about 17 percent of the planet’s land and roughly 8 percent of its oceans are protected from activities like fishing, farming and industry.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Good news for a sustainable future. Major steps in the right direction. Bravo IPBES!
Who? From their website:
“The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent intergovernmental body established by States to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development. It was established in Panama City, on 21 April 2012 by 94 Governments. It is not a United Nations body. However, at the request of the IPBES Plenary and with the authorization of the UNEP Governing Council in 2013, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) provides secretariat services to IPBES. See here for more information on the history of IPBES.” — IBES.NET 

Can We Save Nature? – The New York Times

You’re reading the Climate Forward newsletter, for Times subscribers only.  Your must-read guide to the climate crisis.

World leaders are not yet done negotiating the future of the planet this year. Another crucial environmental meeting is about to start, and there is hope that the world could agree on an official plan to protect nature.

A big question: Can the planet’s biggest predator save what’s left of our struggling ecosystems?

The challenge is immense. One example: An assessment that monitors populations of vertebrate animals found that since 1970, these populations declined more than two-thirds on average. (That estimate has some caveats, which my colleague Catrin Einhorn explained here.) The decline is mainly a result of humans taking too much of planet from them, and climate change will profoundly worsen the crisis, too.

At this week’s U.N. meeting in Montreal, known as COP15, leaders will have an opportunity to change this path, by setting goals for each country to work toward through the next decade and beyond. Targets could be expanding protected areas, getting rid of subsidies to industries that harm nature or agreeing on funding strategies for conservation.

Stakes are high. At the conference’s opening news conference this morning, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the United Nations executive who oversees the treaty on biodiversity, stressed that none of the goals established at an earlier meeting a decade ago to protect nature were achieved.

Opinion | End-Times Tourism in the Land of Glaciers – The New York Times

Mr. Kizzia was a reporter for The Anchorage Daily News for 25 years. He is the author of several books about Alaska, most recently, the ghost-town history “Cold Mountain Path.”

“Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is one of those Alaska showpieces more often seen by visitors than by the state’s residents. When I finally got there this summer, after more than 40 years living in Alaska, I arrived the way most people do, on board a cruise ship, in the company of a few thousand tourists from around the world.

The remote park’s lofty summits and ice-carved fjords, the humpbacks and orcas and grizzlies lived up to what I’d heard. As passengers spilled onto the upper observation deck, agog, the ship’s theatrical pirouette before a wall of blue glacial ice showed off Romantic nature in all its timeless glory.

Something was amiss, though, at least for me. I was along for the trip as an invited local speaker — Alaska author and freelance wilderness rhapsodist. But during my decades in Alaska, I had seen too many changes, interviewed too many climate scientists, read (well, skimmed) too many studies. I gazed from the railing with a contemporary Alaskan’s gloom, a pilgrim bearing witness to end-times in the temple of the glaciers.

I started asking around to see if anybody else felt this way.

The park rangers told me that glacier tourism was indeed changing. On these cruise ships, the disappearance of coffee to-go cups from the breakfast service is one of the first signs you have sailed into a national park. It’s part of your ship’s concession contract: no latte cups flying into pristine waters. The casino games shut down, and uniformed rangers are brought aboard to mingle and give talks about the environment.”

Extreme Heat Will Change Us – The New York Times

“ON A TREELESS STREET under a blazing sun, Abbas Abdul Karim, a welder with 25 years experience, labors over a metal bench.

Everyone who lives in Basra, Iraq, reckons with intense heat, but for Abbas it is unrelenting. He must do his work during daylight hours to see the iron he deftly bends into swirls for stair railings or welds into door frames.

The heat is so grueling that he never gets used to it. “I feel it burning into my eyes,” he says.

Working outside in southern Iraq’s scalding summer temperatures isn’t just arduous. It can cause long-term damage to the body.

We know the risk for Abbas, because we measured it.

By late morning, the air around Abbas reached a heat index of 125°F SHOW CELSIUS, a measure of heat and humidity. That created a high risk for heat stroke — especially with his heavy clothing and the direct sun.”

This link might have full access:

Red Sea Coral Reefs Keep Thriving Despite Global Warming – The New York Times

Jenny Gross and 

Jenny Gross reported from Egypt’s Ras Mohammed National Park in the Red Sea. Vivian Yee reported from the United Nations climate summit in Egypt.

“SHARM El SHEIKH, Egypt — The vast majority of the world’s coral reefs are likely to be severely damaged in the coming decades if the planet keeps warming at its current rate.

But the wildly colorful coral reefs in the waters outside the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, where the annual United Nations climate conference is taking place, are an anomaly: They can tolerate the heat, and perhaps even thrive in it, making them some of the only reefs in the world that have a chance of surviving climate change.

There is a limit to how much they can take, however.

Mass tourism at Egypt’s beach resorts, overfishing, overdevelopment, pollution, occasional failures of the sewage system, sediment from construction and oil spills from tankers or terminals have put them at risk, according to marine biologists who study the Red Sea.”

Margaret Renkl | How to Give Thanks in a Screwed-Up World – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — My father always had a ready answer to the question that greases the gears of human discourse. Whenever anyone he didn’t know particularly well — a neighbor or a sales clerk or someone at church — would ask, “How are you, Mr. Renkl?” my father didn’t say, “Just fine, thank you.” His answer was always “Fantastic!” Later, when he was dying, it was the answer he gave even to family members checking in. Right up to his death, he was always faaaantastic.

Even before he got sick, this answer was an inexplicable exaggeration. Money was always short in our house, and Mom struggled intermittently with depression, but you would not have known any of that from the way my father greeted others, always with an unexpectedly cheery answer to the throwaway question people asked out of nothing but common courtesy.

I think about my father every day, but I’ve been thinking about him more than usual lately. Not only because Thanksgiving is coming on, that time when the ache of my missing elders is especially acute, but because I am trying to remind myself how to see the world as my father saw it.”

” . . . . .  I can’t force polluting nations to work together to hold climate change to planet-surviving levels. I can’t force Congress to work together for solutions to the economic inequities and information silos that separate us. But I can pull out my mother’s recipe box and make a Thanksgiving feast. I can remember the loved ones who once shared this table and fill their seats with people whose loved ones are distant or otherwise missing. And I can be grateful for every single fantastic moment we have together.

A hard frost finally came to my garden last week, and the zinnias are gone now, along with all the butterflies. I am sorry to see them go, and I am trying not to interrogate my own gratitude for the days they had here. I tell myself it is not wrong to exult in the beauties that remain. I remind myself of the testimony of my father’s whole life, of the truth he taught me — that loss and love will always belong to each other, that sorrow has always been joy’s quiet twin.” -30-

Somalia Braces for Famine, Trapped Between Al Shabab and Drought – The New York Times

Chief Africa correspondent Declan Walsh and photographer Andrea Bruce reported this article from Baidoa, Somalia, a city threatened by militants.

“The sea of rag-and-stick tents that spreads in every direction from the hungry, embattled city of Baidoa, in southern Somalia, gives way to sprawling plains controlled by the militants of Al Shabab.

Over 165,000 refugees have streamed into Baidoa since early last year, fleeing the ravages of Somalia’s fiercest drought in 40 years. Among them was Maryam, a 2-year-old girl whose family had lost everything.

The drought withered their crops, starved their animals and transformed their modest farm into a howling dust bowl. They endured a five-day trek to Baidoa, braving Islamist check posts, hoping to reach safety.

But one recent afternoon Maryam, weak from hunger and sickness, began to cough and vomit. Her mother, cradling Maryam in her arms, called for help.”

Somalia is on our minds. We watched a PBS NewsHour a few nights ago, and they showed an emaciated infant in somalia, looking far more dead than alive. We are tough old birds, but this was almost more than we could stomach. It definitely infringed on dinner. This article is more gentle, there are no such pictures. But Somalia is on our minds. Here are the top comments, which I endorsed:

Peter Johnson
London

Extreme weather is not the whole story for Somalia’s food shortages. The population has more than quadrupeled in the last fifty years (from 3.48 million to 16.6 million), and agricultural productivity cannot keep up.

4 Replies50 Recommended

joe
St Louis

Starvation in Africa was a staple of late night TV solicitations back when I was growing up in the 70’s. 50 years later nothing has changed. Tribal warfare, a population that can’t feed itself, and not using birth control are not going to be made any better by charity. If people want change than something fundamental needs to change.

Reply34 Recommended

Silas Campbell
Paris, Kentucky

Completely omitted from this article is the fact that the number of people in Somalia has grown from about 2 million in 1950 to about 17 million now, i.e. there are over 8 times as many Somalis as in 1950. Could it possibly be that this exponential rise in the number of people needing resources has anything to do with the famine ?

Reply28 Recommended

mushmouth
Jacksonville

what these poor people need is systematic and free birth control. and then classes on how to use it. why would you bring children into a famine situation?

Reply27 Recommended