It’s Not Just California. These Places Are Also on Fire. – By Veronica Penney – The New York Times

By 

“Wildfires are devastating the American West, but the United States isn’t the only place on Earth that’s burning. This year, other countries have also experienced their worst wildfires in decades, if not all of recorded history.

In each case, the contributing factors are different, but an underlying theme runs through the story: Hotter, drier seasons, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, have made the world more prone to erupt in flames.

“We don’t have a fire problem; we have many fire problems,” said Stephen J. Pyne, an emeritus professor at Arizona State University who studies wildfires and their history. “One, obviously, is a deep one. It has to do with fossil fuels and climate.” “

The Arctic Is Shifting to a New Climate Because of Global Warming – By Henry Fountain – The New York Times

 

“The effects of global warming in the Arctic are so severe that the region is shifting to a different climate, one characterized less by ice and snow and more by open water and rain, scientists said Monday.

Already, they said, sea ice in the Arctic has declined so much that even an extremely cold year would not result in as much ice as was typical decades ago. Two other characteristics of the region’s climate, seasonal air temperatures and the number of days of rain instead of snow, are shifting in the same way, the researchers said.

The Arctic is among the parts of the world most influenced by climate change, with sharply rising temperatures, thawing permafrost and other effects in addition to shrinking sea ice. The study, by Lara Landrum and Marika M. Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., is an effort to put what is occurring in the region in context.

“Everybody knows the Arctic is changing,” said Dr. Landrum, a climate scientist and the lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change. “We really wanted to quantify if is this a new climate.”

In other words, she said, “has the Arctic changed so much and so fast that the new climate cannot be predicted from the recent past?”

Using years of observational data from the region and computer models, the researchers found that sea ice is already in a new climate, in effect: The extent of ice in recent years is consistently less than what would be expected in even the worst year for ice in the mid-20th century.

Arctic sea ice has declined by about 12 percent per decade since satellite measurements began in the late 1970s, and the 13 lowest sea-ice years have all occurred since 2007. This year is expected to be a record or near-record low for ice extent, which will be determined by the end of this month as the summer melt period ends.”

A Quarter of Bangladesh Is Flooded. Millions Have Lost Everything. – By Somini Sengupta and Julfikar Ali Manik – The New York Times

By Somini Sengupta and 

“Torrential rains have submerged at least a quarter of Bangladesh, washing away the few things that count as assets for some of the world’s poorest people — their goats and chickens, houses of mud and tin, sacks of rice stored for the lean season.

It is the latest calamity to strike the delta nation of 165 million people. Only two months ago, a cyclone pummeled the country’s southwest. Along the coast, a rising sea has swallowed entire villages. And while it’s too soon to ascertain what role climate change has played in these latest floods, Bangladesh is already witnessing a pattern of more severe and more frequent river flooding than in the past along the mighty Brahmaputra River, scientists say, and that is projected to worsen in the years ahead as climate change intensifies the rains.

“The suffering will go up,” said Sajedul Hasan, the humanitarian director of BRAC, an international development organization based in Bangladesh that is distributing food, cash and liquid soap to displaced people.”

“This is one of the most striking inequities of the modern era. Those who are least responsible for polluting Earth’s atmosphere are among those most hurt by its consequences. The average American is responsible for 33 times more planet-warming carbon dioxide than the average Bangladeshi.

This chasm has bedeviled diplomacy for a generation, and it is once again in stark relief as the coronavirus pandemic upends the global economy and threatens to push the world’s most vulnerable people deeper into ruin.

An estimated 24 to 37 percent of the country’s landmass is submerged, according to government estimates and satellite data By Tuesday, according to the most recent figures available, nearly a million homes were inundated and 4.7 million people were affected. At least 54 have died, most of them children.

The current floods, which are a result of intense rains upstream on the Brahmaputra, could last through the middle of August. Until then, Taijul Islam, a 30-year-old sharecropper whose house has washed away, will have to camp out in a makeshift bamboo shelter on slightly higher ground. At least he was able to salvage the tin sheet that was once the roof of his house. Without it, he said, his extended family of nine would be exposed to the elements.

Mr. Islam’s predicament is multiplied by the millions among those on the front lines of climate change. Vanuatu is literally sinking into the Pacific. Pastoralists in the Horn of Africa are being pushed to the edge of survival by back-to-back droughts. In the megacity of Mumbai, the rains come in terrifying cloudbursts.”

Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, in late July. The damage from this year’s flooding has been compounded by the global coronavirus pandemic.

David Lindsay:

Bravo.  Here is one of many good comments:

AT

Idaho

July 30

Here we go again. The US with 5% of the worlds population uses 25% of its resources. The US is number one in co2 emissions per capita and is only exceeded by China, with 4x our population in total emissions. This, however, is not the whole story. In 1970 when Bangladesh became a country it had a population of ~65 million. It is now ~165 million. While they do not contribute individually or collectively anywhere near as much as a western person or country to climate change that kind of growth in one lifetime has disastrous effects on the local environment and how people live. More land is needed for food production, housing, clothing and on and on, and people spread out to previously uninhabited areas, (the environment always pays for human numbers and activity) increasing the damage when things like flooding happen. In the US a similar effect is found. In 1970 the US had ~205 million people with a per capita co2 emissions of ~23 tons each. In 2020 the US has ~330 million people with co2 emissions of ~16 tons each (a 25% reduction). Population growth has completely wiped out all the gains of reducing our per capita co2 emissions. The point of this? Without addressing population growth both in the west and in every other country, nothing will be achieved. The effect of humans on the environment is simple. Number of people x lifestyle = effects. Both sides of the equation have to be addressed everywhere to have any lasting effect.

135 Recommended

The Consumer – Fluorocarbon refrigerants damage our environment, Australian Government, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment https://www.environment.gov.au/

“Did you know that the refrigerants contained in air-conditioners and refrigerators can be extremely harmful to the environment? Many refrigerants, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) damage the ozone layer, while others are extremely potent greenhouse gases.

In fact, one kilogram of the refrigerant R410a has the same greenhouse impact as two tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of running your car for six months.

That’s why Australia has specific laws that prohibit the importation of gases like CFCs and regulates the importation of synthetic greenhouse gases.

Refrigerants leak into the atmosphere from faulty or poorly maintained equipment, or when equipment is improperly disposed of.”

Source: The Consumer – Fluorocarbon refrigerants damage our environment, Australia

The Refrigerant Story: From R-22 to R-410A | Goodman Manufacturing

“For Centuries, scientists, inventors and outside-the-box thinkers have been trying to manipulate substances in order to alter the temperature of the indoors!

1756: Dr. William Cullen, a Scottish physician and professor, published “Of the Cold Produced by Evaporating Fluids and of Some Other Means of Producing Cold.”

1758: Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley, a professor at Cambridge University, experimented with the cooling effect of certain rapidly evaporating liquids.

1824: Michael Faraday, a self-declared philosopher, discovered that heat would be absorbed by pressurizing gas, like ammonia, into a liquid.

1840: Physician and inventor, Dr. John Gorrie, wanted to reverse the effects of yellow fever and “the evils of high temperatures.”1 As a result, he developed a machine that created ice through compression. Gorrie was granted the first U.S. Patent for mechanical refrigeration in 1851.1

1876: German engineer Carl von Linden patented the process of liquefying gas setting the stage for the modern air conditioner.2

The Evolution of Refrigerant

Modern air conditioning appears to be an evolutionary invention that was built upon a series of successful (and not so successful) concepts. It took 80 years from Dr. Gorrie’s primitive ice-maker method for a group of individuals to develop a safe, non-toxic and easily-produced substance that could be used to provide indoor cooling for the masses.

In 1928, Thomas Midgley, Albert Henne and Robert McNary created chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants. The compounds produced were “the world’s first non-flammable refrigerating fluids, greatly improving the safety of air conditioners.”3

One of the compounds developed was R-22, a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) that became a standard refrigerant utilized in residential air conditioners for decades to come.

But as they say, history has a way of repeating itself.  Decades later, scientists would discover that chlorine, a component of CFC and HCFC refrigerants, is damaging to the ozone layer.  As a result, R22, the standard residential air conditioner refrigerant, was included in the 1987 Montreal Protocol list of substances that were to be phased out of production over time for new air conditioners and heat pumps.”

Source: The Refrigerant Story: From R-22 to R-410A | Goodman Manufacturing

 

 

Global Warming Is Driving Polar Bears Toward Extinction, Researchers Say – By Henry Fountain – The New York Times

“Polar bears could become nearly extinct by the end of the century as a result of shrinking sea ice in the Arctic if global warming continues unabated, scientists said Monday.

Nearly all of the 19 subpopulations of polar bears, from the Beaufort Sea off Alaska to the Siberian Arctic, would face being wiped out because the loss of sea ice would force the animals onto land and away from their food supplies for longer periods, the researchers said. Prolonged fasting, and reduced nursing of cubs by mothers, would lead to rapid declines in reproduction and survival.

“There is very little chance that polar bears would persist anywhere in the world, except perhaps in the very high Arctic in one small subpopulation” if greenhouse-gas emissions continue at so-called business-as-usual levels, said Peter K. Molnar, a researcher at the University of Toronto Scarborough and lead author of the study, which was published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Even if emissions were reduced to more moderate levels, “we still are unfortunately going to lose some, especially some of the southernmost populations, to sea-ice loss,” Dr. Molnar said.”

The Return of the Platypuses – The New York Times

Photographs by 

Text by 

“Sarah May, watching, marveled at its glossy coat and the smoothness of its movement. It was like a Slinky, she said: “It almost poured over the ground.” The platypus reached the still pond, slid in, and was gone. Dr. May had been anticipating this moment for months, but now that it had arrived, she found herself surprised at just how deeply moved she felt.

The glossy platypus, along with two others, arrived at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, a 45-minute drive from the Australian capital of Canberra, on April 30. They had been away for four months, sheltering at a zoo in Sydney. The cold, wet and windy day of their release could not have been more different from the day in late December when they had left the reserve.

Back then, Tidbinbilla was parched from extreme heat and drought and menaced by an approaching bush fire. Dr. May, the wildlife team leader for the reserve, and her crew were working long hours in thick smoke, trying to protect their lungs with face masks, their eyes red and burning. It was a grim and apocalyptic-feeling time, she said: “Fires had taken over everybody’s psyche.” But the team worried most about their animal charges, the rare, endangered and iconic wildlife that make the reserve their home.”

Opinion | The Earth Is Just as Alive as You Are – By Ferris Jabr – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Jabr is a science writer.

Credit…JooHee Yoon

“Every year the nearly 400 billion trees in the Amazon rain forest and all the creatures that depend on them are drenched in seven feet of rain — four times the annual rainfall in London. This deluge is partly due to geographical serendipity. Intense equatorial sunlight speeds the evaporation of water from sea and land to sky, trade winds bring moisture from the ocean, and bordering mountains force incoming air to rise, cool and condense. Rain forests happen where it happens to rain.

But that’s only half the story. Life in the Amazon does not simply receive rain — it summons it. All of that lush vegetation releases 20 billion tons of water vapor into the sky every day. Trees saturate the air with gaseous compounds and salts. Fungi exhale plumes of spores. The wind sweeps bacteria, pollen, leaf fragments and bits of insect shells into the atmosphere. The wet breath of the forest, peppered with microbes and organic residues, creates ideal conditions for rain. With so much water in the air and so many minute particles on which the water can condense, rain clouds quickly form.

The Amazon sustains much more than itself, however. Forests are vital pumps of Earth’s circulatory system. All of the water that gushes upward from the Amazon forms an enormous flying river, which brings precipitation to farms and cities throughout South America. Some scientists have concluded that through long-range atmospheric ripple effects the Amazon contributes to rainfall in places as far away as Canada.

The Amazon’s rain ritual is just one of the many astonishing ways in which living creatures transform their environments and the planet as a whole. Much of this ecology has only recently been discovered or understood. We now have compelling evidence that microbes are involved in numerous geological processes; some scientists think they played a role in forming the continents.”

David Lindsay: Amen. Go read the entire piece by Ferris Jabr.  Here are a few of the NYT comments I admired:

Socrates
Downtown Verona. NJ

Human ignorance and conceit are the enemies of the Earth, and those who stoke it and aid and abet such ignorance and conceit are effectively planetary assisted-suiciders. The solutions to preserving our environment are contraception, education, solar-wind-tidal-hydro-geothermal-alternative energies and human consciousness. One of the most prominent destructive mentalities today is Christian dominionism in which the God of Genesis grants humanity “dominion” over the Earth. “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” More destructive words have never been written. We owe it to our fellow man, woman and child to wipe destructive religious, authoritarian, and environmental ignorance off the face of the political map and to do our human best to respect, cherish and honor Mother Earth. Anything less is conceding defeat to the plague of human Know-Nothingism and an authoritarian black hole of ignorance and destruction.

157 Recommended

 
Steves Weave – Green Classifieds commented April 21, 2019

Steves Weave – Green Classifieds

Right now, Gaia is talking. You don’t have to listen hard. And she is saying: Vote Democrat!

149 Recommended

 
joyce commented April 20, 2019

joyce

The earth is alive and it is our only home. Humans have evolved from the earth and the earth has formed us right down to the metabolic level. Most of the wildlife on the earth is still in balance with the earth, their lives are dependent upon finding everything they need on the earth using the gifts they have in their bodies. Their lives are tenuous, but they are not harming the earth in any large degree. Humans have learned to stabilize their lives by using their evolved technology as a protection. This has enabled them to grow out of balance with the earth and also enabled them to cause great harm in the process. Humans know the processes that cause global warming and understand what has to happen to reverse it,but politics and money and status quo interfere. We have gone so far away from the basic processes of the earth that we have a hard time thinking that we can go back. But we know what to do, we need to stop using fossil fuels. The oil industry needs to embrace renewable energy and the jobs that come with it. We all need to think about renewable energy, reusable technology, and a society that does not build things for the sole purpose of more money. As the climate becomes more unstable this earth is beginning to wipe us off the planet. We are not going to escape the natural law that everything that survives on earth remains in balance with the earth. The window is closing for us to help rebalance the earth we have vandalized. It is now or never.

132 Recommended

John Houghton, Who Sounded Alarm on Climate Change, Dies at 88 – The New York Times

“John Houghton, a climate scientist and influential figure in the United Nations panel that brought the threat of climate change to the world’s attention and received a Nobel Prize, died on April 15 in Dolgellau, Wales. He was 88.

The cause was complications of the novel coronavirus, according to his granddaughter Hannah Malcolm, who announced the death, at a hospital, on Twitter.

A key participant in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. Houghton was the lead editor of the organization’s first three reports, issued in 1990, 1995 and 2001. With each report, the evidence underpinning global warming and the role humans play in causing it grew more ineluctableand the calls for international action became more pressing. The group received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Al Gore, the former vice president and climate campaigner.”

Greta Thunberg Joins Climate March on Her Last Day in Davos – The New York Times

 

 

“DAVOS, Switzerland — Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist, spent this week inside the halls of power at the World Economic Forum, addressing the titans of global business and politics, huddling with a few of them for closed-door sessions and being publicly belittled by officials from the United States government.

On Friday, as the five-day conclave came to a close, she returned to her original domain: a protest outdoors. Shoulder to shoulder with her youth activist peers, Ms. Thunberg marched along the narrow road that winds through this village in the Swiss Alps, holding her signature handmade black-and-white sign that read, in her native Swedish, “school strike for the climate.”

Speaking to reporters just before the march set off, Ms. Thunberg and four youth activists from Europe and Africa rebuked business and government leaders at the World Economic Forum for not taking climate action and warned that they would continue to press them to stop investing in fossil fuels. Those demands, Ms. Thunberg noted, “have been completely ignored.”

Asked about a suggestion by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that she learn economics in college before calling for divestment, Ms. Thunberg brushed off such criticisms as irrelevant. “If we care about that, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” she said.

In her addresses at Davos, Ms. Thunberg has repeatedly cited scientific consensus that the world as a whole is burning through what scientists call the carbon budget, which is the cumulative amount of carbon dioxide that can amass in the atmosphere over a period of time to keep temperatures within certain thresholds. Earlier this week, as the annual conference opened, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record.”