Opinion | Tennessee Makes Way for the Monarchs – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

Margaret Renkl

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

CreditCreditWilliam DeShazer for The New York Times

“NASHVILLE — A few years ago I started noticing wildflowers blooming beside the highway: ironweed and goldenrod and snakeroot and black-eyed Susan. The first time it happened the sun was in my eyes as I drove west toward Memphis, and a late summer drought was filling the air with dust motes. For a moment I thought I was imagining flowers where flowers had never been before. A daydream on a lonesome stretch of highway as twilight came on.

There was nothing unusual about the flowers themselves — they’re the plants that commonly bloom along Nashville’s greenways during late summer — but these flowers weren’t in a park or a nature preserve. They were growing right on the interstate median and on the side of the road. I figured the state’s Department of Transportation simply hadn’t gotten around to mowing yet.

Then I started to see the flowers in springtime, too, and all summer. The decision not to mow, it turns out, was deliberate. The Tennessee Department of Transportation — like many other state transportation departments across the country — now practices swath mowing, a strategy that allows wildflowers to bloom unmolested in rural areas till after the first frost. Instead of clearing the entire space between the road and the right-of-way fence, mowers clear only a 16-foot-wide area next to the road.

The mowed swath preserves clear sightlines for drivers while allowing wildflowers to grow in the deep margins between the mowed area and the fence. After the wildflowers have gone to seed, and the seeds have had time to ripen and drop, mowers clear the entire area again to keep trees from becoming established too close to the road. In Tennessee, this plan began as an experimental program in 2013 and now encompasses all rural highways managed by the state. That’s 13,807 miles of blooming flowers across Tennessee.”

Opinion | Hurricane Dorian Makes Bahamians the Latest Climate-Crisis Victims – By Erica Moiah James – The New York Times

By 

Dr. James, an art historian, founded the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas.

CreditCreditJoe Skipper/Reuters

“MIAMI — Whoever thought Dorian might be a good name for a hurricane has some explaining to do. In the Bahamas, when we have to deal with difficulties, we try to make the saddest people among us laugh, knowing that they will return the favor in our hour of need.

So when Hurricane Dorian hit land in the Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas a few days ago and the horrific pictures started streaming in on social media, among the videos shared early on was what appeared to be a woman running through the rain and wind to safety, only to have her wig blow from her head.

The punch line wasn’t the wig taking flight. It was that she doubled back to retrieve it, rather than continue to safety, expanding the list of life’s essentials. Many people might read this as a highly inappropriate moment for such frivolity, but for Bahamians it was perfect timing.

What we have seen in the past few days has been sublime in its horror. It has estranged us from the humor that keeps us going despite the increasing fragility of life in the breathtakingly beautiful place we call home. It has a tiny carbon footprint but carries the burden of being ground zero for our climate crisis.

We Bahamians listen to climate deniers in rich countries who are oblivious or indifferent to those who bear the weight for their wonderful life. Meanwhile, the water rises from the ground in our yards because the water table is so high during high tide, and plants we once depended upon no longer grow. We experience too much rain or too little rain, and fresh water supplies are increasingly contaminated by rising sea levels.”

Opinion | Why Are We Still Looking for Oil and Gas? – By Lee Wasserman – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Wasserman is director of the Rockefeller Family Fund.

CreditCreditIllustration by John J. Custer; Photographs by Julia Wolf and Urs Moritz Ernst/EyeEm, via Getty Images

“If an artist were to choose colors for portraits of public officials to represent their records on climate change, one color would suffice for Donald Trump: charcoal black. How better to capture the president’s efforts to increase the extraction of coal, oil and gas at a time when emissions from these fuels are likely to expose tens of millions of people to life-threatening heat waves, coastal flooding, severe storms and water shortages.

But to be honest, the portraits of most of the world’s progressive leaders wouldn’t be much brighter. The United States was well on its way to becoming the world’s largest producer of fossil fuels before Donald Trump. Even today, with only a few decades left for us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without potentially catastrophic long-term consequences, far too many officials of all political stripes continue to expand the amount of fossil fuels we now extract and burn.

It was President Barack Obama, after all, who described “all of the above” as the preferred nonchoice of energy sources. He enthusiastically embraced the fracking boom that is now primed to unleash a tidal wave of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. His successful effort to end the country’s export ban on fossil fuelsencouraged industry to go after every ounce of oil and gas it could find — and it is finding plenty. Taken together, President Obama’s legacy is a nation that produces more oil and natural gas than Saudi Arabia.

Climate policy can get complicated fast, but there is really only one question to ask when considering an official’s climate bona fides: Will his or her policies lead to an increase or decrease in the amount of fossil fuels coming out of the ground? One peer-reviewed study found that to have a 50 percent chance of meeting the Paris accord’s target of staying “well below” 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit of additional warming, we must refrain from burning much of the fossil fuel reserves currently listed as assets on the balance sheets of energy companies.

Opinion | Farmers Don’t Need to Read the Science. We Are Living It. – By Alan Sano – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Sano is a farmer.

CreditCreditLucy Nicholson/Reuters

FIREBAUGH, Calif. — Many farmers probably haven’t read the new report from the United Nations warning of threats to the global food supply from climate change and land misuse. But we don’t need to read the science — we’re living it.

Here in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions, there’s not much debate anymore that the climate is changing. The drought of recent years made it hard to ignore; we had limited surface water for irrigation, and the groundwater was so depleted that land sank right under our feet.

Temperatures in nearby Fresno rose to 100 degrees or above on 15 days last month, which was the hottest month worldwide on record, following the hottest June ever. (The previous July, temperatures reached at least 100 degrees on 26 consecutive days, surpassing the record of 22 days in 2005.) The heat is hard to ignore when you and your crew are trying to fix a broken tractor or harvest tomatoes under a blazing sun. As the world heats up, so do our soils, making it harder to get thirsty plants the water they need.

The valley’s characteristic winter tule fog is also disappearing, and winters are getting warmer. Yields of many stone fruits and nuts that feed the country are declining because the trees require cool winters and those fogs trap cool air in the valley. Warm winters also threaten the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which provides 30 percent of California’s water. We had a good wet winter this year, but a few years ago the snowpack was at its lowest level in 500 years. We also worry that last year’s record California wildfires, which blanketed the valley with smoke for weeks, might become the new normal. I don’t get sick much, but that summer I had a hard time breathing because of the congestion in my lungs.

. . . . .After harvesting our fall crops, we now use cover crops that return carbon and nitrogen to the soil and nourish the microbes and fungi essential for a living soil ecology. The plants and soil organisms work together to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and draw it down into the root zone. We minimize disturbance of our land by decreasing tillage, which protects these microorganisms and keeps carbon in the soil, where it belongs. Rather than being a source of carbon emissions, farms could store carbon where it’s needed to grow food.

This has been good for our business, too. We spend less on water, energy and fertilizer and are getting good yields. “

Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply- United Nations Warns – By Christopher Flavelle – The New York Times

“The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself.

The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report.

Climate change will make those threats even worse, as floods, drought, storms and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply. Already, more than 10 percent of the world’s population remains undernourished, and some authors of the report warned in interviews that food shortages could lead to an increase in cross-border migration.

A particular danger is that food crises could develop on several continents at once, said Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the lead authors of the report. “The potential risk of multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,” she said. “All of these things are happening at the same time.” “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Thank you IPCC and Christopher Flavelle for reporting on their important work. The message is clear, all hands on deck. It appears in this short summary, the human population growth, perhaps the root cause, is still a taboo subjecct and off the table. It is time for the IPCC to address human population growth and call for zero or negative population growth.
xxx
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

A Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crises – By Somini Sengupta and Weiyi Cai – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/06/climate/world-water-stress.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

BANGALORE, India — Countries that are home to one-fourth of Earth’s population face an increasingly urgent risk: The prospect of running out of water.

From India to Iran to Botswana, 17 countries around the world are currently under extremely high water stress, meaning they are using almost all the water they have, according to new World Resources Institute data published Tuesday.

Many are arid countries to begin with; some are squandering what water they have. Several are relying too heavily on groundwater, which instead they should be replenishing and saving for times of drought.

In those countries are several big, thirsty cities that have faced acute shortages recently, including São Paulo, Brazil; Chennai, India; and Cape Town, which in 2018 narrowly beat what it called Day Zero — the day when all its dams would be dry.

In Zimbabwe the Water Taps Run Dry and Worsen ‘a Nightmare’ – The New York Times

By Patrick Kingsley and 

HARARE, Zimbabwe — It had been five days since water had stopped flowing out of the taps at Eneres Kaitano’s bungalow in southern Harare, Zimbabwe’s modern and tidy capital city. Five days since she had done any laundry. Five days since she had forbidden her children from using the toilet more than once a day.

On the sixth day, she again rose at 3 a.m. to fetch water from a communal borehole. By the early afternoon, she was still waiting her turn at the tap with her six buckets and cans.

Much of the city had the same idea. More than half of the 4.5 million residents of Harare’s greater metropolitan area now have running water only once a week, according to the city’s mayor, forcing them to wait in lines at communal wells, streams and boreholes.

“It is causing us serious problems,” said Ms. Kaitano, a 29-year-old jeans wholesaler who was down to her last clean outfit last week. “We have to stop ourselves from going to the toilet.”

Under Brazil’s Far Right Leader, Amazon Protections Slashed and Forests Fall – The New York Times

By Letícia Casado and 

“BRASÍLIA — The destruction of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil has increased rapidly since the nation’s new far-right president took over and his government scaled back efforts to fight illegal logging, ranching and mining.

Protecting the Amazon was at the heart of Brazil’s environmental policy for much of the past two decades. At one point, Brazil’s success in slowing the deforestation rate made it an international example of conservation and the effort to fight climate change.

But with the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, a populist who has been fined personally for violating environmental regulations, Brazil has changed course substantially, retreating from the efforts it once made to slow global warming by preserving the world’s largest rain forest.

While campaigning for president last year, Mr. Bolsonaro declared that Brazil’s vast protected lands were an obstacle to economic growth and promised to open them up to commercial exploitation.

Seven months into his term, that is already happening.

Brazil’s part of the Amazon has lost more than 1,330 square miles of forest cover since Mr. Bolsonaro took office in January, a 39 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the government agency that tracks deforestation.

In June alone, when the cooler, drier season began and cutting trees became easier, the deforestation rate rose drastically, with roughly 80 percent more forest cover lost than in June of last year.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment
This is a depressing but important story, thank you Casado and Londono. The United States should be organizing NATO to pressure Brazil, and if necessary, invade Brazil, and conduct regime change, to protect the Amazon rain forest, since most scientist are in agreement, that we can not survive without it. Since Trump won’t be interested, what is a concerned citizen of the world and environmentalist to do. We can start with a boycott of all things Brazilian, by willing countries, and in the US, by willing citizens. I’ve never liked boycotts, because they are slow and clumsy, and I do no know how to go about it with Brazil. But a boyocott of everything Brazillian, and especially their beef and soy bean producst, would be better than silence and despair.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” (of 18th centuryVietnam) and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Toxic Algal Bloom Forces Mississippi to Close All Its Mainland Beaches | Smart News | Smithsonian

“Mississippi has closed all 21 of its mainland beaches due to a toxic algal bloom that has been creeping along the Gulf Coast. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality said that those inclined to visit the beach can safely stay on the sand, but cautioned that humans and pets should steer clear of the water and avoid any seafood sourced from the algae-affected areas.

As Ben Kesslen reports for NBC News, the Department of Environmental Quality began shuttering beaches in late June. By Sunday, the spread of blue-green algae had prompted the department to close the last two remaining mainland beaches. Beaches on Mississippi’s barrier islands, which run parallel to the mainland, are still open, but are being monitored for any signs of harmful algae.

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/toxic-algal-bloom-forces-mississippi-close-all-its-mainland-beaches-180972583/#WLSWkeIBPQDQCAm4.99
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Source: Toxic Algal Bloom Forces Mississippi to Close All Its Mainland Beaches | Smart News | Smithsonian

We’re on track to blow our carbon budget. Are we doomed? | By Molly Enking – Grist

If existing sources of fossil fuel emissions (like factories, cars, and power plants) simply continue to operate for the duration of their expected lifetime, the world will emit more than 650 billion tons of carbon dioxide, according to the study published Monday in the journal Nature. That’s 78 billion tons more than the maximum the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says can be emitted to have a reasonable chance of not exceeding 1.5 degrees of warming.

“We really need to try to avoid building anything new that uses fossil fuels whenever possible, going forward,” said Steven Davis, a co-author of the study and an associate professor at U.C. Irvine’s Earth System Science program. In addition, some existing infrastructure will need to be retired early (or retrofitted to capture their carbon emissions), according to the research.”

Source: We’re on track to blow our carbon budget. Are we doomed? | Grist

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