ApocaDocs
Today is July 19, 2024.
On this day (07/19), we posted 9 stories, over the years 2009-2016.


Converging Emergencies: From 2009 to 2016, 'Doc Jim and 'Doc Michael spent 30 to 90 minutes nearly every day, researching, reading, and joking about more than 8,000 news stories about Climate Chaos, Biology Breach, Resource Depletion, and Recovery. (We also captured stories about Species Collapse and Infectious Disease, but in this "greatest hits of the day" instantiation, we're skipping the last two.)
      We shared those stories and japes daily, at apocadocs.com (see our final homepage, upon the election of Trump).
      The site was our way to learn about what humans were doing to our ecosystem, as well our way to try to help wake up the world.
      You could call this new format the "we knew it all back then, but nobody wanted to know we knew it" version. Enjoy these stories and quips from a more hopeful time, when the two ApocaDocs imagined that humanity would come to its senses in time -- so it was just fine to make fun of the upcoming collapse.

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Biology
Breach


July 19, 2009, from Newsweek

Toxic Tsunami

You had me... at "tsunami"...
...the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant had experienced a catastrophic failure... The largest industrial spill in U.S. history, it has created an environmental and engineering nightmare. The cleanup effort, which the Environmental Protection Agency is overseeing, could cost as much as $1 billion (though estimates continue to climb) and take years to complete. Meanwhile, the released ash -- which is packed with toxins like arsenic, lead, and selenium -- threatens to poison the air and water. Congressional committees are investigating the failure, some lawmakers are calling for greater regulation of utilities, and the EPA is probing about 400 other facilities across the country that store ash in similar ways. Yet the debacle has had another, potentially more far-reaching, impact: it has displayed in the most graphic manner imaginable just how dirty coal is. At a time when seemingly everyone from President Barack Obama on down is talking about "clean coal," the spill showed it's anything but. "Kingston opened people's eyes," says Lisa Evans of Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental-law firm. "Clean coal is an impossibility."

Climate
Chaos


July 19, 2011, from Texas A&M University via ScienceDaily

2011 Gulf of Mexico 'Dead Zone' Could Be Biggest Ever

If I eva have another child I'm gonna name her Hypoxia.
Researchers from Texas A&M University have returned from a trip to examine the scope and size of this year's "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico and have measured it currently to be about 3,300 square miles, or roughly the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, but some researchers anticipate it becoming much larger...During the past five years, the dead zone has averaged about 5,800 square miles and has been predicted to exceed 9,400 square miles this year, which would make it one of the largest ever recorded, according to the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. Hypoxia occurs when oxygen levels in seawater drop to dangerously low levels, and severe hypoxia can potentially result in fish kills and harm marine life, thereby creating a "dead zone" of life in that particular area.


July 19, 2011, from Agence France-Press

Act now on climate, no need to wait: top UN scientist

I don't know how you can have "a round-table discussion" with just two people!
The key facts on global warming are already known and leaders should not wait for the next edition of the UN climate panel's report to step up action, the body's top scientist told AFP. The 4th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released in 2007, "is very clear," Rajendra Pachauri said Monday in Paris, ahead of a five-day meeting of the body in Brest, France. The fifth multi-volume assessment, which summarizes peer-reviewed science to help policy makers make decisions, is due out in 2013-2014. "We have enough evidence, enough scientific findings which should convince people that action has to be taken," he said after a round-table discussion with France's environment minister, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet.


July 19, 2009, from Columbus Dispatch

House-passed global-warming bill proposes barrage of regulations

Appears to me letting business and conservatives run amok didn't work out so hot!
...Because the Senate is nowhere near approving its own version of the [1,428-page global-warming bill approved last month by the U.S. House of Representatives], these regulations might never become law. But as details of the House bill emerge, they have provoked intense criticism from conservative Republicans and business organizations. "That bill is so bad, it's really pathetic," said Bill Kovacs, a chamber lobbyist. "I'm not sure what they thought they were accomplishing by focusing the power of the federal government on the tiniest details of life versus creating a clear path for replacing fossil fuels with cleaner technologies."

Resource
Depletion


July 19, 2015, from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The most powerful abstract the Docs have ever read

The planet's resources might actually be finite?
Though recorded just previously, we read the abstract of the article "Human domination of the biosphere: Rapid discharge of the earth-space battery foretells the future of humankind" in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and were astonished:

ABSTRACT: Earth is a chemical battery where, over evolutionary time with a trickle-charge of photosynthesis using solar energy, billions of tons of living biomass were stored in forests and other ecosystems and in vast reserves of fossil fuels. In just the last few hundred years, humans extracted exploitable energy from these living and fossilized biomass fuels to build the modern industrial-technological-informational economy, to grow our population to more than 7 billion, and to transform the biogeochemical cycles and biodiversity of the earth. This rapid discharge of the earth's store of organic energy fuels the human domination of the biosphere, including conversion of natural habitats to agricultural fields and the resulting loss of native species, emission of carbon dioxide, and the resulting climate and sea level change, and use of supplemental nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar energy sources. The laws of thermodynamics governing the trickle-charge and rapid discharge of the earth's battery are universal and absolute; the earth is only temporarily poised a quantifiable distance from the thermodynamic equilibrium of outer space. Although this distance from equilibrium is comprised of all energy types, most critical for humans is the store of living biomass. With the rapid depletion of this chemical energy, the earth is shifting back toward the inhospitable equilibrium of outer space with fundamental ramifications for the biosphere and humanity. Because there is no substitute or replacement energy for living biomass, the remaining distance from equilibrium that will be required to support human life is unknown.



July 19, 2015, from UGA, via DesdemonaDespair

Continued destruction of Earth's plant life places humankind in jeopardy, says UGA research

The iHome battery only lasts how long?
Unless humans slow the destruction of Earth's declining supply of plant life, civilization like it is now may become completely unsustainable, according to a paper published recently by University of Georgia researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "You can think of the Earth like a battery that has been charged very slowly over billions of years," said the study's lead author, John Schramski, an associate professor in UGA's College of Engineering. "The sun's energy is stored in plants and fossil fuels, but humans are draining energy much faster than it can be replenished."... Scientists estimate that the Earth contained approximately 1,000 billion tons of carbon in living biomass 2,000 years ago. Since that time, humans have reduced that amount by almost half. It is estimated that just over 10 percent of that biomass was destroyed in just the last century. "If we don't reverse this trend, we'll eventually reach a point where the biomass battery discharges to a level at which Earth can no longer sustain us," Schramski said.... "I call myself a realistic optimist," Schramski said. "I've gone through these numbers countless times looking for some kind of mitigating factor that suggests we're wrong, but I haven't found it."

Recovery


July 19, 2009, from Boulder Daily Camera

Boulder explores work weeks of four 10-hour days

Three day weekends ROCK!
Working fewer, longer days each week could mean big savings for Boulder's energy bills, and happier workers, according to some city employees advocating for such a change. The city recently took a survey of its workers, asking them what they would change to become more efficient or cost-effective in the face of an expected $5 million budget shortfall next year. A resounding theme in the anonymous responses, according to city documents, is that managers should consider shortening the typical work week from the traditional five 8-hour days to four 10-hour days -- the theory being that shutting down city buildings could save energy.


July 19, 2009, from via ScienceDaily

Reintroduced Chinese Alligators Now Multiplying In The Wild In China

Just so a bunch of Tarzans don't go lookin' to wrastle 'em!
The Wildlife Conservation Society announced today that critically endangered alligators in China have a new chance for survival. The WCS's Bronx Zoo, in partnership with two other North American parks and the Department of Wildlife Conservation and Management of the State Forestry Administration of China, has successfully reintroduced alligators into the wild that are now multiplying on their own. The alligator hatchlings -- 15 in number -- are the offspring of a group of alligators that includes animals from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo. The baby alligators represent a milestone for the 10-year effort to reintroduce the Chinese alligator...