October 20, 2016
Above, Eminem’s new “Campaign Speech”. There is nothing wrong with your screen.
Lately I’ve been thinking back to something that John Kerry told The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, earlier this year. Asked about the importance of the Middle East to the United States, Kerry answered entirely about the Islamic State.
“Imagine what would happen if we don’t stand and fight [ISIS],” he said:
If we didn’t do that, you could have allies and friends of ours fall. You could have a massive migration into Europe that destroys Europe, leads to the pure destruction of Europe, ends the European project, and everyone runs for cover and you’ve got the 1930s all over again, with nationalism and fascism and other things breaking out. Of course we have an interest in this, a huge interest in this.
The 1930s all over again—Kerry was laying out a prediction in April, but it soundsa little more like description now. Even if America’s current dunderheaded demagogue loses the presidential election, the European project already falters in the United Kingdom, and Russia rumbles with revanchism. Fueled now (as then) by an ailing global economy, far-right nationalism seems ascendant worldwide. It’s hard not to think of the 1930s as the catastrophe which presaged our contemporary tragicomedy.
I write and report on climate change, not a pursuit that usually encourages optimism, but watching all this unfold with the atmosphere in mind has been particularly bleak. For the past few months in particular, I’ve been thinking: Wow, this is all happening way earlier than I thought it would.Spend enough time with some of the worst-case climate scenarios, and you may start to assume, as I did, that a major demagogue would contest the presidency in the next century. I figured that the catastrophic consequences of planetary warming would all but ensure the necessary conditions for such a leader, and I imagined their support coming from a movement motivated by ethnonationalism, economic stagnation, and hatred of immigrants and refugees. I pictured, in other words, something not so far from Trump 2016.
I just assumed it wouldn’t pop up until 2040.
October 17, 2016
I included interviews here with David Barber, one of the truly important experts in the area, that I conducted on the first leg of this year’s crowd funded Dark Snow Field work, at a meeting in Lund, Sweden.
You’ll also see Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center
Important points: although this year did not set a new record low for sea ice minimum, the kind of ice loss we did see, and the mechanism of that loss, show that, even in a year when the months of greatest insolation, july and august, were not particularly conducive to melt, we can still see dramatic losses.
Also, important fun fact – although we generally assume that since the ice is melting, it automatically makes human endeavors in polar regions easier and safer. Not so.
Barber points out some counterintuitive processes that make the arctic more unpredictable, and at least for now, just as challenging if not more so than in the past.
I included Andy Lee Robinson’s terrific 3-d graph of sea ice melt in passing, but did not have the most recent version in time for this piece, so am posting that below. Read the rest of this entry »
October 17, 2016
Actually, misnomer, it’s not the farts we worry about, its the burps. In any case, they are an important source of greenhouse gases.
Could there be a solution from an unexpected source?
When Canadian farmer Joe Dorgan noticed about 11 years ago that cattle in a paddock by the sea were more productive than his other cows, he didn’t just rediscover an Ancient Greek and Icelandic practice.
While the Ancient Greeks didn’t have to contend with global warming, it turns out that this practice could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 21st-century livestock farming.
Cows and sheep produce methane, a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Despite misconceptions, most cow methane comes from burps (90%) rather than farts (10%). Livestock produce the equivalent of 5% of human-generated greenhouse gases each year, or five times Australia’s total emissions.
Dorgan’s cattle were eating storm-tossed seaweed. Canadian researchers Rob Kinley and Alan Fredeen have since found that seaweed not only helped improve the cows’ health and growth, but also reduced their methane production by about 20%.
This and other lines of evidence led Kinley, who by then had moved to CSIRO, to team up with other CSIRO scientists and marine algae specialists at James Cook University to test a wide range of seaweeds.
They tested 20 seaweed species and found that they reduce methane production in test-tube samples from cow stomachs by anything from zero to 50%. But to do this required high amounts of seaweed (20% by weight of the sample) which was likely to present digestion issues for animals.
But when the researchers tested a particular type of seaweed collected from Queensland’s coastal waters, they thought their instruments were broken and ran the tests again. It turns out that Asparagopsis taxiformis reduces methane production by more than 99% in the lab. And unlike other seaweeds where the effect diminishes at low doses, this species works at doses of less than 2%.
Asparagopsis produces a compound called bromoform (CHBr₃), which prevents methane production by reacting with vitamin B12 at the last step. This disrupts the enzymes used by gut microbes that produce methane gas as waste during digestion.
October 15, 2016
Be careful what you wish for.
I’ve been quiet lately because I’m in Miami Beach for the King Tide flooding, and spending a lot of time in the field shooting.
Torrential Tropical rain hit Miami tonight during high tide, on the eve of the year’s highest tide predicted for tomorrow morning. All over Miami beach, streets were overflowing their curbs with storm water, as saturday night revelers sought shelter in buildings and under overhangs.
I’ll be out on the streets with camera in the am.
October 12, 2016
The video above from 2010 is relevant to the current debate because in it, I featured clips from Trump crush “Obama is a demon” Alex Jones, who was already an internet star focusing on right wing conspiracies and climate denial.
It’s clear with the benefit of hindsight that today’s “alt-right” crypto fascist faction of the Republican party was birthed, at least in part, in the fossil fuel funded fever swamps of climate change denial.
A relevant example in current news is the way the right wing is making use of emails hacked from the Democratic party and Clinton campaign staffers.
Conservative media outlets are fabricating the claim that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “hates everyday Americans” based on a blatant misinterpretation of a leaked email.
Citing a hacked email from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta that was released by WikiLeaks, conservative outlets like Infowars, the Drudge Report, WND, and Gateway Pundit claimed to have proof that Clinton “hates everyday Americans,” when the email in question is clearly about the phrase “everyday Americans,” not actual people. Infowars has since seemingly deleted its article, and Drudge, who was originally linking to the grossly inaccurate Infowars story, is now instead linking to a Daily Caller story that makes clear the discussion was about the cliche “everyday Americans.”
Rush Limbaugh ran with the story on his radio show claiming that in the email Podesta was “admitting that Hillary Clinton has begun to hate everyday Americans.
October 12, 2016
I pointed out months ago that climate impacts in Florida could have an impact in swinging Republican climate deniers around – because any pathway to the Presidency becomes difficult, if not impossible, for GOP without Florida.
Al Gore is of course, always well briefed. In his appearance yesterday with Hillary Clinton at a post-Mathew Florida rally, Gore warned as usual of climate change, and Hillary joined in – here, AP fact checks the statements.
AP quotes MIT’s Kerry Emanuel, you can see my interview with Dr. Emanuel and others, above. Below, recent discussions on weather v climate, which if you have not seen, do so now.
MIAMI (AP) — During a campaign rally in Miami Tuesday, Hillary Clinton said Hurricane Matthew was “likely more destructive because of climate change.”
Clinton was campaigning alongside former Vice President Al Gore, who has become a leading climate change activist since leaving politics. She said near record high ocean temperatures “contributed to the torrential rainfall and the flash flooding” from the storm, particularly in the Carolinas.
Clinton also said that rising sea levels mean Matthew’s “storm surge was higher and the flooding was more severe.”
THE FACTS: Clinton is generally right in a big picture way, but scientists who study hurricanes and climate change were not quite as comfortable when it comes to attributing significantly worse harm from a single storm like Matthew.
MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel, an expert on hurricanes and climate, called Clinton’s assessment “a simplification of the truth.”
Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, said the signs of climate change are only seen in “the long-term average.” Clinton’s statement, he said, was “a little bit strongly worded for a single event.”
But as for the storm surge being worse, Emanuel called that a “no brainer” because sea level is higher.
See Trump science advisor Alex Jone’s video rant below on this page.
No doubt I’ll be hearing from deniers that Obama didn’t specifically deny that he was, in fact, a demon.