Nights Are Warming Faster Than Days. Here’s Why That’s Dangerous. – The New York Times

DL: Here is a story from this summer I missed.

By KENDRA PIERRE-LOUIS and NADJA POPOVICH JULY 11, 2018

“July kicked off with searingly hot temperatures for most Americans this year.

New daily, monthly and all-time record highs were set across the country last week, with more than 100 million people sweating it out under heat warnings or advisories. But the low nighttime temperatures that usually provide a crucial respite from scorching summer days have been more quietly making history.

On July 2, Burlington, Vt., set a record for its hottest overnight temperature as the thermometer refused to budge below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Four days later, central Los Angeles hit 95 degrees before 11 a.m., already breaking the previous daily record of 94 degrees, before rising to well over 100 in the afternoon.”

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The Race for Alaskan Oil: 6 Key Takeaways – By Steve Eder and Henry Fountain – The New York Times

By Steve Eder and Henry Fountain
Dec. 3, 2018

“FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most pristine landscapes in the United States. But that may soon change as the Trump administration seeks to exploit an untapped trove of oil beneath its coastal plain.

Since Congress approved a measure last December to open the coastal plain to oil exploration, the Department of the Interior has been charging ahead with a plan to sell drilling leases as early as next year. Trucks weighing 90,000 pounds could begin rolling across the tundra even before then to conduct seismic tests that help pinpoint oil reserves.

The hurried approach has alarmed some government specialists and environmentalists, who say that risks to wildlife and damage to the tundra are not being taken seriously enough. And it comes as the Trump administration moves more broadly to exploit fossil fuels in Alaska and beyond, erasing restrictive policies that were designed to protect the environment and address global warming.

The New York Times examined how, in the space of about a year, the refuge’s coastal plain — known as the 1002 Area — went from off-limits to open for business. Here are six takeaways.”

Drilling in the Arctic: Questions for a Polar Bear Expert – By Henry Fountain and Steve Eder – The New York Times

By Henry Fountain and Steve Eder
Dec. 3, 2018

Andrew Derocher is a biologist at the University of Alberta who has researched polar bears for more than three decades. He is also a volunteer adviser to Polar Bears International, a conservation group.

He discussed the status of polar bears in the Arctic amid a warming climate, and the potential impact of oil and gas exploration. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q. Worldwide in the Arctic, there are roughly 25,000 polar bears in what scientists consider to be 19 subpopulations. Over all, how are they doing?

A. People assume that because we’re concerned about polar bears from a conservation and management perspective, that all polar bears must be doing terribly. That’s not the case. Polar bears are doing just fine in many parts of their distribution, and with 19 different populations around the Arctic, we have 19 different scenarios playing out.

. . . .    The interview ended:

What do scientists know about the impact of oil and gas exploration and production on polar bears?

One of the things that’s pretty cool about bears in general and polar bears in particular is each bear has an individual behavior pattern, or personality, if you want to call it that. Some bears just don’t seem to care — they are just not worried by people, not worried by snow machines or all-terrain vehicles or trucks going by. Yet others are extremely wary, don’t like it and will move away quickly from disturbance.

By and large, I think polar bears are fairly robust to disturbance, but once they have small cubs they tend to be quite timid.

One of the concerns we have is den abandonment. If you harass a bear around a den, there’s a greater likelihood that she will leave it with her cubs. And that is not a good thing. Young cubs are not that well developed and rely on the dens for protection. Moving them around is never a good idea.

We have to accept at least the basic premise that disturbance is not going to be beneficial for the bears. Then the question is, just how bad is it going to be? That’s difficult to say. But anything that adds on to the current impacts of sea ice loss is not going to be good for the population.”

Henry Fountain covers climate change, with a focus on the innovations that will be needed to overcome it. He is the author of “The Great Quake,” a book about the 1964 Alaskan earthquake. @henryfountain 

Opinion | The Beginning of the End of America’s Best Idea – By Timothy Egan – The New York Times

By Timothy Egan
Contributing Opinion Writer, Nov. 23, 2018

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A sign designating the Corral Canyon Park recreation area stands amid landscape charred by the Woolsey fire in Malibu, Calif., on Nov. 13.CreditCreditReed Saxon/Associated Press

“AGOURA HILLS, Calif. — When I was a little kid I passed through a ghost forest in Montana, the blackened, standing skeletons of the largest wildfire in recorded American history. That was the Big Burn of 1910, which torched an area nearly the size of Connecticut in a weekend.

What remained of that blowup told a story: of hurricane force winds, of 100-foot trees that crushed firefighters, of a land so scorched by intense heat that it was decades before seedlings sprouted in some places.

But at least life returned. And over the last century, a healthy forest emerged along with a consensus political view that wild land was essential to our national character.

Today, walking over the ashen floor of another spectral land, I’m struck by how naked everything looks in the world’s largest urban national park. Almost 90 percent of the federal land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was burned in this month’s Woolsey Fire. The smell alone is mournful.

The story it tells is grim, a portent of nature altered and convulsive. It’s not just that this audacious experiment — a huge parkland on the doorstep of a metro area of 13 million people — is now on life support. It’s that, as we are the first species to radically disrupt the world that gave us life, much of that world may soon be unsafe for human habitation.

California used to have distinct fire seasons. Now the storms of flame and smoke are year-round, and all of the nation’s most populous state is a fire zone. One in eight Americans lives in a land that could turn catastrophic on any given day.

Last year it was the wine country north of San Francisco and the mountains above Santa Barbara. This year it’s the area around Yosemite National Park, the peopled canyons of the northern part of the state, and this last best open space on the shoulders above Los Angeles.

In the north, the town of Paradise was essentially wiped off the map, with more than 13,000 homes gone, more than 80 people killed, hundreds still missing, thousands homeless — the deadliest fire in state history. It’s a human tragedy.

In the south, it’s almost 100,000 acres put to flame in the mountains that meet the sea, with deer left charred in their tracks, an iconic Western-set movie ranch burned into black and white, the sweet-scented chaparral and sage highlands all of a moonscape. It’s a tragedy of nature.”

Your Children’s Yellowstone Will Be Radically Different – by Marguerite Holloway – The New York Times

“In the United States, Yellowstone National Park is the only place bison and wolves can be seen in great numbers. Because of the park, these animals survive. Yellowstone was crucial to bringing back bison, reintroducing gray wolves, and restoring trumpeter swans, elk, and grizzly bears — all five species driven toward extinction found refuge here.

Bison in Yellowstone.
But the Yellowstone of charismatic megafauna and of stunning geysers that four million visitors a year travel to see is changing before the eyes of those who know it best. Researchers who have spent years studying, managing, and exploring its roughly 3,400 square miles say that soon the landscape may look dramatically different.

Over the next few decades of climate change, the country’s first national park will quite likely see increased fire, less forest, expanding grasslands, shallower, warmer waterways, and more invasive plants — all of which may alter how, and how many, animals move through the landscape. Ecosystems are always in flux, but climate change is transforming habitats so quickly that many plants and animals may not be able to adapt well or at all.

Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872, is one of the Unesco World Heritage sites threatened by climate change. It is home to some of the country’s oldest weather stations, including one at Mammoth Hot Springs. Data from the park and surrounding area has helped scientists understand and track climate change in the Western United States.

Since 1948, the average annual temperature in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem — an area of 34,375 square miles that includes the park, national forests, and Grand Teton National Park — has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers report that winter is, on balance, 10 days shorter and less cold.”

California’s Underwater Forests Are Being Eaten by the ‘Cockroaches of the Ocean’ – By Kendra Pierre-Louis – NYT

“Five years ago, assigning wickedness to the purple urchin, a shellfish the size of a plum with quarter-inch spikes, would have been absurd.

That was before the urchins mowed down Northern California’s kelp forests.

The underwater forests — huge, sprawling tangles of brown seaweed — are in many ways just as important to the oceans as trees are to the land. Like trees, they absorb carbon emissions and they provide critical habitat and food for a wide range of species. But when climate change helped trigger a 60-fold explosion of purple urchins off Northern California’s coast, the urchins went on a feeding frenzy and the kelp was devoured.

“It would be like one of those beautiful deciduous forests turned into a desert,” said Gretchen Hoffman, a professor of marine ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “But in the matter of five years.””

David Lindsay:  Uggh. Here is the top comment I recommended:

Richard Falice
Winter Garden, FL

We need to start putting the planet first, ahead of making money for the wealthy after all where do we go if the earth is inhospitable to life? There needs to be action not words before it’s too late, the carbon tax needs to be enforced and increased, fossil fuels need to be assigned to the trash heap. We also need to stop treating the oceans as our garbage dump by developing biodegradable plastics or taking them off of the market, these are a couple of ideas that could help and certainly wound not inconvenience people too much.

Birders Don’t Need to Be Told That Catastrophic Climate Change Approaches | Hannah Waters – Audubon

Birders Don’t Need to Be Told That Catastrophic Climate Change Approaches

A new report warns that we’re approaching the point of no return—a fact that close observers of nature have known for years.    By Hannah Waters  October 10, 2018

“On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a new report that reminded readers the world over of the hot, dire straits we’re now swimming in. Like most reports from the international organization, founded in 1988 by the World Meterological Organization and United Nations Environment Programme, it’s a massive summary of scientific research hitting on all the impacts of global warming that affect people and wildlife alike.”

David Lindsay: This is the best article to date that I have read, summarizing and digesting the devastating news in last Monday’s report by the IPCC on the latest forecast for destruction from just a 1.5 degree celsius increase in world temperature. Well done Hannah Waters for the Audubon Society.

Source: Birders Don’t Need to Be Told That Catastrophic Climate Change Approaches | Audubon

Climate Change Brought a Lobster Boom. Now It Could Cause a Bust. – By Livia Albeck-Ripka – NYT

By Livia Albeck-Ripka June 21, 2018

“VINALHAVEN, Me. — At 3:30 in the morning on a Friday in late May, the lobstermen ate breakfast. Outside, their boats bobbed in the labradorite water, lit only by the dull yellow of streetlamps across the bay. It was windy, too windy for fishing, but one by one the island’s fishermen showed up at the Surfside cafe anyway. Over pancakes and eggs, they grumbled about the season’s catch to date.

Some of the lobstermen said it was just too early in the season. Others feared that it was a sign of things to come. Since the early 1980s, climate change had warmed the Gulf of Maine’s cool waters to the ideal temperature for lobsters, which has helped grow Maine’s fishery fivefold to a half-billion-dollar industry, among the most valuable in the United States. But last year the state’s lobster landings dropped by 22 million pounds, to 111 million.

Now, scientists and some fishermen are worried that the waters might eventually warm too much for the lobsters, and are asking how much longer the boom can last.”

DL: Keep reading. The lobster fishermen and women practice a useful conservation rule, notching the tails of pregnant females and throwing them and all small and large(?) lobsters back into the water.

“Lobstering has always been a boom-and-bust business, but the conservation measures long enforced by Maine’s lobstermen may help stave off complete collapse, scientists say.

The lobstermen clip the tails of egg-bearing female lobsters and release them, a practice called V-notching that began voluntarily in the late 19th century and was later mandated by law. They throw back lobsters that already have V-notches, alongside lobsters that are smaller than 3.25 inches or larger than five, measured from the eye socket to the base of the tail. These measures help conserve the brood stock, ensuring that the lobsters continue to repopulate.”

‘Impossible to Ignore’: Why Alaska Is Crafting a Plan to Fight Climate Change – By Brad Plumer – NYT

By Brad Plumer,     May 15, 2018

“WASHINGTON — In the Trump era, it has mainly been blue states that have taken the lead on climate change policy, with liberal strongholds like California and New York setting ambitious goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, at least one deep-red state could soon join them: Alaska, a major oil and gas producer, is crafting its own plan to address climate change. Ideas under discussion include cuts in state emissions by 2025 and a tax on companies that emit carbon dioxide.

While many conservative-leaning states have resisted aggressive climate policies, Alaska is already seeing the dramatic effects of global warming firsthand, making the issue difficult for local politicians to avoid. The solid permafrost that sits beneath many roads, buildings and pipelines is starting to thaw, destabilizing the infrastructure above. At least 31 coastal towns and cities may need to relocate, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, as protective sea ice vanishes and fierce waves erode Alaska’s shores.”

David Lindsay:

2.5 minute film, from the article above. Lovely and scary. Alaska is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide, They are like a deer, frozen in the headlights on oil and gas, but even Alaska is admitting and making changes to accommodate and remediate climate change.

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‘Like Going Back in Time’: Puerto Ricans Put Survival Skills to Use – The New York Times

“SAN JUAN, P.R. — A grandmother turned a school bathroom sink into a bath. Neighbors are piling into a garage for communal meals prepared on an old gas stove. A 79-year-old man made a bonfire out of fallen tree branches to cook.More than a month after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico on a path of destruction that spared no region, race or class, residents of the island have found their creativity stretched to the limit as they try to function without many amenities of the modern world.

It is not just water and electricity that are in scarce supply. Cellphone service ranges from spotty to nonexistent. Cars are damaged and roads blocked. For many, work and school still have not resumed, so they wander the streets, play board games and sit around telling stories by candlelight.

“It’s like going back in time,” said Kevin Jose Sanchez Gonzalez, 25, who has been living in darkness since Sept. 5, the day before a previous storm, Hurricane Irma, began to chip away at Puerto Rico’s electrical grid.Crammed into homes three or four families at a time, living on canned and freeze-dried food without any means of turning it into a hot meal, and sleeping in shelters, Puerto Ricans have been learning to make do, sometimes in extreme ways.”

Yes. Here are two of many comments I recommended and support.

Wade Nelson Durango, Colorado 1 hour ago

This could be America’s greatest hour. Construct and ship 100,000 tiny homes built from shipping containers. Offer American utilities massive tax breaks to send linemen, trucks, and equipment to P.R. Create a WPA or CCC to employ tens of thousands of under-employed Americans to rebuild homes. Fill the harbors with older cruise boats to house them while they do. Put every asset of the National Guard into restoring safety, and order in the island. Put a billion of OUR tax dollars in Elon Musk’s hands to fill the island with solar and PowerWall batteries instead of giving a tax cut to the rich. In other words, SEND THE CAVALRY. Americans need to take heed; whatever is NOT DONE in Puerto Rico will eventually NOT BE DONE in your town, your state, whether NorCAL, the Eastern Seaboard, Texas, or even Denver Colorado when disaster strikes YOUR area. As you have done to the “least of these, so you have done unto me” a wise man once said!

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David Solá-Del Valle, MD

Boston 3 hours ago

Facts about Puerto Rico a full month after the Hurricane (based on my visit to PR from Oct 9-Oct 14 and having my whole family in PR):
1) 77-88% (varies daily) of the island is without electricity, and Puerto Rico only has ~400 workers to restore the grid at this point as opposed to the 18,000 that were mobilized to Florida.
2) Most of my family is without water, and they live in Caguas, a mere 16 miles south of San Juan, essentially a suburb of San Juan, and easily accessible.
3) Getting a text or a phone call outside of San Juan is still miraculous. Imagine how difficult communications are. Sometimes you have to drive to see the person you need to talk to and pray they’re home and that you haven’t wasted your gas in vain. Of note, ~50% of cell towers are still down as of today.
4) The main hospitals in Caguas are working with generators.
5) Traffic is a mess – I lived it – no traffic lights are functional, and there aren’t enough policemen to man them all. Puerto Ricans have learned to multiply their usual commutes by 3-5 times depending on the day and weather.
6) I stood in line at several supermarkets in Caguas and Carolina to find food for my family to finally be allowed to enter and find half-empty shelves. This has been particularly hard for may cousin with Crohn’s disease.
7) 50 dead officially, 113 people missing, and people dying every day from lack of electricity, water, medications, etc. A video from a fellow physician in Centro Médico (in SJ) showed how grim it