Posts Tagged With: climate change

WE ARE PHYSICIANS TO A DYING PLANET

DSC08216 (Copy)During the 1970’s, Wallace Broecker, of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, began warning anyone who would listen about the dangerous buildup of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere. Thirty years later we are witness to a dying planet as we know it. Losing great mammals like elephants, rhinos, leopards, lions, tigers, polar bears, monkeys, gorillas, whales, oceans, coral, sand. We lose millions of small populations of plants and insects. We’ve lost billions of birds, dangerous numbers of amphibians, lizards and frogs. The rates of loss in every country is accelerating.

In Broecker’s day, developers began working on a scrubber, a unit 10 feet by 50 feet that can scrub carbon from the air. It would then have to be piped underground beneath the saline layers and stored.  “Better yet, a way must be found to turn carbon dioxide into a mineral without using a lot of energy to do it,” Broecker said. Gas seeping out and escaping into the atmosphere is one of the factors holding the technology back.

Fast forward to 2007.  An international team of scientists has investigated how basaltic rocks in Iceland’s geothermal fields can naturally store C02. Dubbed the CarbFix project.  The researchers have happened upon a method of stowing carbon away that can fast-track the mineralization of CO2.  Researchers have come up with a technique that promises to turn the gas into a solid within two years,  a drastically shorter time frame than the centuries or millennia the current scientific consensus suggests.

The team at Reykjavik Energy’s Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, where the original study took place, says up to 5,000 tons (4,535 tonnes) of CO2 are now being stowed away each year.

What really surprised the researchers was not just how much of the CO2 was converted, but how quickly all of this happened. Through observations  researchers found that more than 95 percent of the CO2 had formed into solid carbonate minerals within just two years.

International Energy Agency describes this method of carbon capture as a “critical component” in combating climate change.

Five thousand tons sounds like a lot, but it is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the billions of metric tons emitted globally each year. The good news is that basalt rock is present beneath the Earth’s surface more than any other rock. It’s not so common on land, with only around 10 percent of the continents made up of basalt, but almost all the ocean floors contain the material. So while it won’t be simple, replicating the process in other locations is a real possibility.

Of course, the best way to stop climate change from wreaking havoc on our planet, is to remove CO2 spewing cars, cows, factories, fossil fuels, gas and coal, that produce CO2 gas.

All necessary technological components are available and in use in various areas, but carbon sequestration is yet to be applied on a scale that would make any meaningful difference to global carbon emissions.

It is up to us and our government to set things in  motion. We must get the word out by reporting to all the agencies fighting climate change, including our Senators and Representatives at all local and national levels. Change always takes place from the people up. We can’t wait for government to do it all. We must push them to do it by complaining loudly.

The Reykjavik team’s research was published in the journal Science.

Groups you may want to know about:  Earth Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council,  Air and Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Fund, Wilderness Society, FSEEE, National Park Trust, Friends of the River.  There are hundreds of groups that are active on environmental issues.

 

 

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WEATHER EXTREMES.

We’ve had much rain and the green is refreshing and beautiful to behold. Wildflowers waiting to pop into bloom when I took this picture. They are now everywhere. I’m impaired and hampered but I can’t resist carrying a camera and grabbing beauty when I see it.

DSC08031 (Copy)The size and perfection of some blooms in my own yard are stellar.

DSC08052 (Copy)Iris have such variable colors.

DSC08060 (Copy)It is unusual to have stems three feet long and yard grass as high as my hips.

DSC08056 (Copy)I can’t remember when I’ve seen a more perfect rose. A prize winner if shown.

DSC08061 (Copy)All that beauty comes with a price.

DSC08064 (Copy)Rain and hail sluicing in torrents. Puddles for days.

DSC08046 (Copy)A fallen giant, unable to hold on in heavily saturated ground.

DSC08039 (Copy)We can’t control the weather, so there is nothing to do but enjoy the beauty, though with a niggling worry of what is to come. Climate change specialists are telling us we’ll pay for it this summer with brutal heat and little relief. My well is dry. The annoying mucus eating gnats I normally don’t encounter until the 3000 foot elevation are pestering me as I walk. We’ve had 81 degree days then cold 28 degree weather back to back in the same week. But, again, we choose to enjoy what we can when we can.

DSC08034 (Copy)Bridal wreath spirea.

DSC05110 (Copy)About two weeks ago, the grass was still low enough to see the chickens. Now they can hide completely in it and seem to love it. Unfortunately, one chicken died two weeks ago and we are down to one brown, Della and one white, Blanche.

DSC08066 (Copy)And yesterday, a cache of turkey eggs hidden so deeply in the overgrowth, my gardener didn’t see the setting mother until she exploded out of the nest and into his face. Sadly, she didn’t return, but it is nice to know the wildlife will survive and adapt. My gardener took the eggs home to put in his incubator.

DSC08049 (Copy)I rode by this plant, and now I’m walking the road with Jim each day as I heal, and this plant and others in my yard are done blooming. Not a blossom anywhere. What brings tomorrow?

 

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THINK CLIMATE CHANGE BEFORE YOU VOTE.

A crucial alarm was brought to our attention yesterday.

United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said:   “Climate change caused by burning fossil fuels has accelerated to the point that the only chance of keeping the world’s temperature below a dangerous level may be to end all greenhouse gas emissions by the end of this century The report issued in Copenhagen said climate change already is affecting life on every continent and in rising oceans.

“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

“The scientific community across the world is sounding the alarm. Climate change is real and it will have devastating consequences around the globe unless we act boldly and decisively,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, a member of the Senate environment and energy committees.

Sanders has proposed a fee on carbon and methane emissions. The measure is cosponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Their bill would help create millions of jobs transforming the U.S. energy system away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. Another Sanders bill would end tax breaks and subsidies for oil and coal companies. A companion measure in the House is sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison.

Both ideas are backed by scientists and leading economists but blocked by Republicans in Congress. “Many Republicans now respond to the crisis of climate change by saying they are not scientists and therefore have no opinion,” Sanders said. “Well, most of them are not doctors but they respect doctors’ opinions on cancer and heart disease. Most of them are not generals but they respect the opinions of our military leaders. It’s time for them to respect the views of the scientific community on climate change.”

It is time to bug your representatives to DO SOMETHING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE, no matter what party you belong to.  Let us try to save what we have before we see devastation as it is portrayed in science fiction movies like blade runner.

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A SHAMEFUL POWER PLAY.

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Last night, just as it was getting dark, the power went out. We have no street lights and when it gets dark, it is black hole dark. I spent the evening in my chair trying to read by candle light. Makes you appreciate your power company, but that kind of power is not my subject today.

I’m disgusted by John Boehner’s  frivolous lawsuit against President Obama. I’m remembering Kenneth Starr’s useless pursuit of the Whitewater Case during the Clinton Administration. The guy didn’t even give up his day job to investigate and cost we taxpayers millions of dollars for no indictments of anybody in the Whitewater case. He stretched out that investigation for months and bilked all of us.  Now, Boehner expects the taxpayers to pay for this lawsuit?

There has never been such an obstructionist congress since the constitution was ratified, and our founding father’s were a contentious bunch. But, their aim was the betterment of all. I believe this lawsuit is purely a power play at our expense.

I’m not a great fan of Obama, but let the guy do his job. If you don’t like him, and his cohorts, offer a better plan and vote them out.

Lets take a look at where we are. Food stamp use is skyrocketing, more Americans are unable to live on their wages. Not good. But it was congress who cut food stamps from $7 a day to $6. Can’t blame that on Obama. And businesses like Walmart, MacDonalds, etc. who pay their hundreds of thousands of workers half the poverty level wages while we taxpayers have to subsidize them with food stamps and medical care? The Republicans were lock step against raising the minimum wage.

Both parties, everyone including Obama, seem to be against regulating Wall Street interests and taxing the super rich to the previous working checks and balances.

Even so,  the jobless rate is forecast to drop to 6.1% from 6.3%, and many cities and states  are raising minimum wages, and many major economic indicators are pointing to a steady economic recovery. The real estate market is virtually recovered, though not at bubble prices. And millions of people have medical insurance who didn’t have it before.
Obama hasn’t performed miracles, but he ended two wars, secured the world’s loose nukes, got rid of Bin Laden and brought the last POW home. He disarmed a middle-eastern madman without firing a shot, and dashed Putin’s hope of a new Soviet empire. Now, if he could just get congress to work instead of pontificate, it really would be a miracle.

There are still pressing world issues, like climate change, extreme weather costs, women’s choices, equal pay, decisions made from an anti-scientific attitude. School textbook companies re-writing history to please the religious beliefs of a minority. Extremists trying to break down the wall between government and religion. But hey,  let’s sue Obama and spend a lot of taxpayer money and take attention away from any real issues.  It disgusts me.

 

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CLIMATE CHANGE.

I actually got through my mail yesterday and have two small grocery bags full of paper to recycle. Opening the mail isn’t the end of it. There is always a number of things from the mail to attend to.

In the late afternoon, I managed to pick the plums left on one tree. The green gage plum tree awaits me today. The little satsumas were not as tasty as usual, maybe because of unseasonal rains. Probably a benefit of climate change to have such a bumper crop of apples, peaches, plums and pears.

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Karen, my house mate,  gave bags and boxes of plums to neighbors, made jam, brought some down to the senior center, and still the tree had plums, high in the top. I picked these three containers full and shook the rest down for the deer.

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Everyone enjoyed the big Elberta peaches, and Bartlett pears, but the wild Indian peaches were prolific. Karen couldn’t find takers for them,  though she made jam and gave to anybody who would have them.  (You have to peel Indian peaches.)

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There are still some peaches left high in the tree. You can see the huge bird peck in one of them. I might be able to pick what’s left here and on the other side of the tree.

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One box of apples remained of those I picked before I left. They are looking spotty but they have kept their firmness stored in newspaper on the cold garage floor.  There are still a few apples on two of my trees.  My job today is to make apple-plum sauce. Maybe a plum-peach sauce batch. Sauce preserves easily and freezes well, too. I have limited time so a bit each day should get it done. All my fruit is organic.

Now that I’m home, I get the news and it is never good news. The longer I am with Jim, the more I understand his philosophy of  “I don’t read the news. It is all bad and I can’t do anything about it anyway.” 

I guess it isn’t in my personality to not have hope, or not to recycle, or not to look to the sun for energy, etc. and I always will do my part to reduce human impact. In fact, I’m writing a book about it.

I took this condensed report directly from Mother Jones Magazine. The report was just published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “Summary for Policymakers” of its Fifth Assessment Report—

Looks like we are in deep doo doo for the next 1,000 years. Humans denied involvement or didn’t know what we were doing to the planet for about 100 years.

Mother Jones calls this the “Cliffs Notes version”, providing the highlights of the text in a  more readable fashion. They admit the report is SCARY:

1. Global warming is just plain unmistakable. At the top of the report, the warming of the climate system that we are seeing (in the form of melting ice, temperature rise, and sea level rise, among other factors) is called “unequivocal” and “unprecedented over decades to millennia.” Not mincing words here, then.

2. Scientists are more sure than ever that humans are driving global warming. The certainty about this central conclusion has now been upped to 95 percent. Let’s allow the scientists to say it in their own words: “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

3. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is higher than it has been in nearly a million years. How much have humans changed the planet? Well, the IPCC says our atmosphere has more carbon dioxide, more methane, and more nitrous oxide than it has had in “at least the last 800,000” years. And how long did it take us to do that? A 40 percent increase in carbon dioxide has occurred since pre-industrial times—or, roughly in the last 200 years.

Item four is hard to understand, but don’t miss reading #6.

4. A clarification on the alleged “slowdown.” The IPCC has added considerable clarification to the most controversial part of the report, where it notes that the rate of surface temperature increase over the last 15 years ago is somewhat less than it had been previously. After an earlier draft of the report leaked in August, this section was widely cited by climate skeptics to cast doubt on global warming. Now, the IPCC clarifies that short-term trends of this kind “are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends.” The report says the recent reduction in the rate of warming is caused, in roughly equal parts, by natural climate variability (possibly including heat going deeper into the oceans) and a temporary decline of solar radiation reaching the planet, thanks to volcanic eruptions and the solar cycle itself. (For more detail, see our live blog.)

5. Projections of sea level rise have increased. Last time around, in 2007, the IPCC was faulted for having projections of future sea level rise that were arguably too conservative, because of the way they dealt with possible contributions from the melting of land-based ice (e.g., Greenland, West Antarctica). This time, the projections are higher for the end of this century. The highest end projection indicates oceans could rise by more than 3 feet (or 0.98 meters).

6. Much of global warming is irreversible and will continue for centuries. In the most somber part of the report, the IPCC provides a truly geological perspective on the changes that we are causing. It notes that much of what we are doing to the planet is “irreversible on a multi-century to millennial time scale” and that temperatures will remain “at elevated levels for many centuries,” even if we completely stop emitting carbon dioxide. Indeed, the report states, much of the carbon dioxide that we’ve emitted “will remain in the atmosphere longer than 1,000 years.”

I read where we’ve had the biggest chinook salmon run in 20 years and no one knows why?  Did it ever occur to anyone that salmon predators are in trouble?  Or that beef raising countries fished 40 billion pounds of anchovies out of the ocean to use for fertilizer. Shouldn’t there be an ocean ecological guard that says you don’t rob the oceans for beef? Capitalism gone amok! Greed the driving force.

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SUPERIOR, WISCONSIN

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Leaving Ashland, we stopped at the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center. They were celebrating the grand opening of a new exhibit about Aldo Leopold and the docent teasingly said this fall basket of mums matched my clothes and I should have my picture taken with it. The building is quite impressive but I found the displays rather plastic. A voices about Native Americans film was poorly done. The see-through lighted-from-behind screen was shadowed by the exit sign lights and other invasive light made it difficult to see.  The exhibits are designed to play with and press buttons and the story and pictures, except for a 75 foot tall mural, just didn’t give me a satisfied feel, or peak my curiosity, except for this sign:

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Just the sign, then very little about people settling here and struggling to make it. Duluth is in Minnesota, maybe that is why. But, Highway 2 is on a direct line to Duluth. I guess I’m jaded. I’ve seen so many wonderful visitors centers that give you a strong feel for where you are.

The Leopold exhibit was sparse. Aldo Leopold was one of America’s foremost conservationists.  He is renowned for starting the national wilderness system, founding the field of wildlife management and ecology, and writing the conservation classic A Sand County Almanac. He devoted his life to the question, “How do we live on the land without spoiling it?”  A question we are still asking today.  But, no counterpart of what Wisconsin has done to fulfill that goal. I asked the docent where I could see some big sugar maples, some huge hemlocks and pines and birches. She said there are a few stands here and there, on an island, or a park. Except for a nice garden in front of the center, it is surrounded by grass. A beautiful viewing tower to look at twigs for trees and grass. It makes me wonder, is this state way behind in recognizing the very lessons that Leopold brought to American consciousness? I was truly disappointed.

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This map is suggesting that climate change is a reality and this is what could happen. While we travel around the country we hear people everywhere, say:  “This is unusual weather. It isn’t usually like this.” At Ashland, a storm blew up like a veritable tornado. Campers commented at how unusual it is to get so many violent storms. In Michigan, the humidity and weeks on end of higher than normal temps? people were shaking their heads, “don’t know, this weather. My barley heads are bigger this year, but my corn is destroyed,” etc. etc.

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The center had an artists rendering  of the extinct American Carrier Pigeons that were so important during WW1. I was amazed at how beautiful they were and wonder how our society let them die out. It bothers me still that these things happened. In fact, one poster of a former Wisconsin governor claimed, “We have enough great forests to last our population forever.”  If only they knew what greed could do.

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When we reached Superior, we spent the night at the Richard Bong Veterans Historical Center. Richard Ira Bong above was a WWII fighter pilot who surpassed Eddie Rickenbacker’s record for downing 27 enemy planes. Just a young kid of 18, his  first battle netted 6 kills. They stopped him at 22 kills thinking their new, young hero would make a better emissary for selling war bonds.  He got bored with that and asked to go back to battle. Then they stopped him at 40, for fear they’d lose their hero as the war just about over. This center is unusual in that it is mostly devoted to this one man’s exploits with a lot of war statistics and memorabilia to fill a huge three-story building. It is located here because Richard Bong was born and raised in Poplar, WI, just  a few miles away from this center. His control of the Japanese air attacks made a huge difference in the outcome of the war. Many battle plans rested on his ability to perform and he is fittingly a great American Hero. Well worth a visit. This visit came as a positive, in one way because I’d just finished reading In Harms Way, by Doug Stanton, about the horrible shafting the Navy dealt Major McVay, the commanding officer of the Indianapolis when it was sunk by a Japanese sub. It took until 2001, 56 years after the sinking, to exonerate McVay.

And, a negative because I am so anti-war. Not that WWII wasn’t necessary, it was. But most wars are over American expansionism, our corporate interests in foreign countries, intervention in foreign countries leadership, ideology, religion, lack of tolerance for other nations culture, oil, business.  Look at these statistics of World War II:

Of a global population at the time of 2.3 billion people, 85 million served as soldiers. Sixty million died, 38 million of them civilians.

2/3 rds of the Jewish Population was annihilated.  The Soviet Union lost 27.5 % of their population. 17% of Poles died. 19.4% of Germans died. 3.67 % of Japanese lost their lives.  All countries lost some.

I read here General MacArthur’s  statement after the war:

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We do have a better world. But we don’t have freedom, tolerance or justice. We give our freedoms away, piece by piece. We are at war on our city streets. Tolerance and justice are still unmet goals as a nation.

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Protesters then were women and had I been old enough, I’d have been there with them.  I do appreciate that I had the right to protest, a freedom much diminished, narrowing and threatened as I write.

Amen!

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