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What A Week It Was: Apocadocuments from
View By Scenario:
Species Collapse:(4)
Plague/Virus:(1)
Climate Chaos:(15)
Resource Depletion: (2)
Biology Breach:(6)
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This Week's Top Ten Very Scary Tags:
carbon emissions  ~ anthropogenic change  ~ contamination  ~ global warming  ~ airborne pollutants  ~ health impacts  ~ smart policy  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ climate impacts  ~ short-term thinking  ~ falling fertility  



ApocaDocuments (31) gathered this week:
Mon, Dec 6, 2010
from FutureStreet:
Wikileaks, the blueprint, and openness
With every day, with every passing hour, the power of the state mobilizes against Wikileaks and Julian Assange, its titular leader. The inner processes of statecraft have never been so completely exposed as they have been in the last week. The nation state has been revealed as some sort of long-running and unintentionally comic soap opera. She doesn't like him; he doesn't like them; they don't like any of us!... Has Earth become a sort of amplified Facebook, where an in-crowd of Heathers, horrified, suddenly finds its bitchy secrets posted on a public forum? Is that what we've been reduced to? Or is that what we've been like all along?... A few months ago I wrote about how confused I was by Julian Assange's actions. Why would anyone taking on the state so directly become such a public figure? It made no sense to me. Now I see the plan. And it's awesome.... Assange gets to be the scapegoat, the pinup boy for a new kind of anarchism. But what he's done can not be undone; this tear in the body politic will never truly heal. Everything is different now. Everything feels more authentic. We can choose to embrace this authenticity, and use it to construct a new system of relations, one which does not rely on secrets and lies. A week ago that would have sounded utopian, now it's just facing facts. ...


Are you implying that sunshine is the best disinfectant?

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Sun, Dec 5, 2010
from Los Angeles Times:
At climate summit, they're feeling like deserted islands
...As the 12-day [Cancun] summit moves into high gear this week, small island nations may be the noisiest critics, but they are hardly alone in their frustration that a legally binding agreement to reduce planet-heating pollutants has no chance to be concluded here. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Wednesday that the Cancun talks "won't result in anything" because no major leaders are attending. Climate negotiations in Copenhagen ended in acrimony last year, with 120 heads of state, including President Obama, in attendance. This year, except for a few leaders of smaller nations, ministers and diplomats are doing the talking. ...


So... leaders showing up doesn't work, and leaders NOT showing up doesn't work. What on earth will work?

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Sun, Dec 5, 2010
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Who will pay for the environmental mess we're in?
Many leaders from the developing world and Western activists are demanding trillion-dollar reparations for the developed world's damage to the Earth's atmosphere at the expense of the poor. Their argument is an extension of the anti-globalization, anti-corporate credo that assigns moral blame for the vast gap in global living standards. Representatives from developing countries arrived at Cancun determined to hold rich nations to account for their role in causing what scientists say is a growing climate crisis, one that will hit poor nations the hardest. However, the United States and the European Union are mired in the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. The heightened level of economic insecurity -- and the perception that China is overtaking Western economies -- will make it increasingly difficult for those governments to win public support for massive climate-related transfers to developing countries that would have been politically problematic even before the global slump. ...


Unfortunately, we're all gonna pay!

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Sun, Dec 5, 2010
from Daily Mail:
Jellyfish are taking over the oceans: Population surge as rising acidity of world's seas kills predators
Britain's beaches could soon be inundated with records numbers of jellyfish, marine experts warned today. Scientists say the number of jellyfish are on the rise thanks to the increasing acidity of the world's oceans. The warning comes in a new report into ocean acidification - an often overlooked side effect of burning fossil fuel.... The report, written by Dr Carol Turley of Plymouth University, said: 'Ocean acidification has also been tentatively linked to increased jellyfish numbers and changes in fish abundance.' Jellyfish are immune to the effects of acidification. As other species decline, jellyfish will move in to fill the ecological niche. Populations have boomed in the Mediterranean in recent years. Some marine scientists say the changing chemistry of the sea is to blame.... The report says acidification may push overstressed oceans into disaster with far reaching consequences the billions of people who rely on fish as their main protein source.... 'The basic chemistry of sea water is being altered on a scale unseen within fossil records over at least 20 million years,' the report said. ...


I hear Ashton Kutcher's mistress has a sex tape, and boy is he pissed!

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Sat, Dec 4, 2010
from New York Times:
Shrugging Off Criticism, Europe Will Keep Trawling
European nations will keep trawling the deep sea bottom, officials said this week, confounding hopes that they would honor commitments made to the United Nations General Assembly to stop the destructive practice. The Council of Fisheries Ministers, made up of officials from the 27 member nations of the European Union, said on Monday that there would be little change in deep-sea quotas for the next two years, despite strong objections from the conservationist camp.... A British study published in September found that bottom trawling commercial fishing fleets have a more negative impact on the seafloor than all other major human activities combined. ...


Scraping the very bottom of the barrel of earth.

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Sat, Dec 4, 2010
from Associated Press:
As climate talks drag on, more ponder techno-fixes
Like the warming atmosphere above, a once-taboo idea hangs over the slow, frustrating U.N. talks to curb climate change: the idea to tinker with the atmosphere or the planet itself, pollute the skies to ward off the sun, fill the oceans with gas-eating plankton, do whatever it takes. As climate negotiators grew more discouraged in recent months, U.S. and British government bodies urged stepped-up studies of such "geoengineering."... Schemes were floated for using aircraft, balloons or big guns to spread sulfate particles in the lower stratosphere to reflect sunlight, easing the warming scientists say is being caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted by industry, vehicles and agriculture. Others suggested assembling gargantuan mirrors in orbit to fend off the solar radiation. Still others propose -- and a German experiment tried -- seeding the ocean with iron, a nutrient that would spur the spread of plankton, which absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide. ...


Hey, if we can't get real work done, we might as well fire up the bong!

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Sat, Dec 4, 2010
from Associated Press:
Ft. Wayne billboard to herald Jesus' return in May
A Christian group is proclaiming Jesus' impending return in billboards going up Fort Wayne and other U.S. cities for the holiday season. Allison Warden, one of the founders of Raleigh, N.C.-based We Can Know, said Wednesday that an analysis of Scripture, particularly the genealogies, shows Jesus will come in May. "God actually provides a calendar that points to May 21, 2011, as the day for Christ to return," she said. ...


As an ApocaDoc, I gotta say May can't come soon enough!

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Sat, Dec 4, 2010
from Nature, via SciDev:
Loss of biodiversity increases spread of disease
A review of several dozen studies that examined 12 different diseases in various ecosystems found that biodiversity seems to protect ecosystems against the transmission of diseases. "A pattern is emerging," said Felicia Keesing, a biologist at Bard College, United States. Researchers still do not know why this is the case but they have suggested that, in more diverse environments, disease-causing organisms, or pathogens, more often end up in a 'dead end' host that does not transmit it as efficiently. But the study also found that, in areas with higher biodiversity, diseases might be more prone to jumping from animals to humans. Keesing thinks that it could be greater interaction between humans and wildlife, such as hunting for bush meat, that fosters the jump into humans -- not biodiversity itself. "Biodiversity could be a source of new diseases but, once a disease emerges, greater biodiversity is protective," she said. ...


With more critters to pick on, maybe they won't need to pick on us humans!

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Fri, Dec 3, 2010
from Haaretz, via Perry:
Never-ending summer sends rabbis, imams, priests to pray for rain
Chief rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar have decreed special days of fasting and prayer in response to the drought. The first of the fasts was yesterday, and the second will be on Monday. The rabbis also wrote a special prayer for rain and urged worshipers to insert it into the daily prayer service on every day when the Torah is read (Monday, Thursday and Saturday ).... "The summer is over, but we still haven't been saved by a blessed rainfall," the rabbis began the letter they sent this week to municipal and neighborhood rabbis both in Israel and abroad. "The water situation in the Land of Israel is one of great need and distress, especially because this is not the first year in which there has been a drought and the land has dried up, due to our multitude of sins. This requires us to seek out the reason. Our obligation in this situation is to examine and scrutinize our actions, to draw nearer to God with all our hearts and to pour out our supplication to him with a broken and downcast heart."... Two weeks ago, Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders conducted a joint prayer for rain in the Muslim village of Wallaja. The drought has also brought a rare moment of unity among the various Orthodox Jewish sects - all of whom issued a joint call to their followers to add "Ve'anenu," a special prayer for rain and for God's mercy in general, to the Amida, the central prayer of the thrice-daily service. There has been no rain at all this month, and most forecasters expect this dearth to continue through at least the beginning of December, and possibly even all of it. The drought covers the entire eastern Mediterranean region. Western Europe, in contrast, is suffering a plethora of precipitation. ...


I often pray that prayer might be enough.

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Fri, Dec 3, 2010
from CBC:
2010 set to be Canada's warmest year
The year 2010 is expected to be one of the three warmest years worldwide since the collection of reliable climate data began -- and Canada's on track to record its hottest year yet. The data released Thursday by the UN's weather agency, the World Meteorological Organization, provides further evidence of a warming trend that has been seen for many years. Scientists blame a steady rise in man-made greenhouse gases, which have been building up in the atmosphere, trapping heat in. During the first 10 months of 2010, the global combined sea surface and land surface air temperature was 0.55 degrees C above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14 degrees C.... The final ranking of 2010 won't be known until data from November and December are examined early next year. But measurements from the first 25 days of November suggest global temperatures continue to track record levels. "Canada had its warmest winter on record, with national temperatures 4 degrees C above the long-term average," said the WMO. "Winter temperatures were 6 degrees C or more above normal in parts of [Canada's] North." ...


Why, that's practically winter in Cancun!

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Fri, Dec 3, 2010
from TalkingPointsMemo:
US House Republicans kill climate change committee
US President Barack Obama's Republican foes in the House of Representatives said Wednesday they were disbanding the chamber's committee on battling global warming, calling it a waste of money. Democrats immediately assailed what they branded the "very disappointing" decision to dismantle the Select Committee on Global Warming, which did not have the power to approve legislation. "We have pledged to save taxpayers' money by reducing waste and duplication in Congress," said a spokesman for Republican House speaker-designate John Boehner, Michael Steel. The committee "was a clear example, and it will not continue in the 112th Congress," he told AFP by email. A spokesman for outgoing Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, set to hand Boehner her gavel when a new US Congress convenes in January, said the panel had played an important role in the debate on climate change and energy. ...


Is it true we elect the politicians we deserve?

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Fri, Dec 3, 2010
from PhysOrg:
Superantigens could be behind several illnesses
Superantigens, the toxins produced by staphylococcus bacteria, are more complex than previously believed, reveals a team of researchers from the University of Gothenburg in an article published today in the scientific journal Nature Communications. Their discovery shows that the body's immune system can cause more illnesses than realised. "Superantigens have a real talent for disrupting the body's immune system," says Karin Lindkvist from the University of Gothenburg's Department of Cell- and Molecular Biology, one of the authors of the article. "If you're infected with bacteria that secrete superantigens, your immune system will respond so strongly that it'll make you ill. Our study shows that superantigens activate the immune system in more ways than previously thought."... The toxins produced by staphylococci are also known as superantigens. A normal viral infection will trigger the activation of around 0.0001 percent of the body's natural killer cells (T cells), which is enough to destroy the virus. However, contracting bacteria that secrete superantigens leads to the activation of 5-20 percent of the body's T cells. Such a strong immune response will often result in illness, which generally involves fever and extreme nausea. Superantigens are also well-known for causing toxic symptoms, as in toxic shock syndrome. There is also some speculation as to whether superantigens can cause autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. ...


Can't we just develop a kryptonite serum for these superantigens?

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Fri, Dec 3, 2010
from New Scientist:
Toxic heavy metals reach top of the world
Dangerous levels of arsenic and cadmium have been found in snow samples from mount Everest. Both heavy metals were found at levels higher than those the US Environmental Protection Agency considers acceptable, says Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh of the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.... Mountaineers rely on melted snow for drinking water, so the toxic metals "could be a concern", says Langley-Turnbaugh. It is not clear how much of the pollution makes its way into rivers further down the mountain, where it might enter the local drinking water.... Air pollution from Asian industry is probably to blame. Concentrations of both arsenic and cadmium were higher in the soil further up the mountain, as would be expected if high-altitude winds were depositing them. ...


Would "Into Heavy Air" have made the bestseller list?

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Want more context?
Try reading our book FREE online:
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
More fun than a barrel of jellyfish!
Thu, Dec 2, 2010
from Discovery News:
BPA May Inhibit Pregnancy
Even as women choose to have babies later in life, more are having trouble conceiving, and the chemical BPA might be partly to blame, suggests a new study. Mice that were exposed to tiny amounts of the common chemical in the womb and shortly after birth had no problems getting pregnant early in their reproductive lives, the study found. But the animals were less likely to get pregnant as they aged compared to animals that had not been exposed to BPA, and they gave birth to smaller litters as time wore on. People come in contact with BPA, also known as bisphenol A, through cash register receipts, canned foods and beverages, hard plastic bottles, kitchenware, DVDs and many other sources. Just about all of us have BPA in our bodies, where it can interfere with the action of estrogen and other hormones. ...


Actually smaller litters of humans might not be such a bad thing.

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Thu, Dec 2, 2010
from Agence France-Press:
Quarter of HK people 'want to move over bad air'
About 25 percent of Hong Kong's population wants to leave the city to escape its notoriously polluted air, which has been described as a health crisis, said a survey released Monday. The report by public policy think tank Civic Exchange found that one in four people living in the teeming financial hub are considering emigrating over fears that its bad air could affect their health. That was an increase from the one in five people who wanted to leave Hong Kong in a similar survey two years ago, the study said. ...


Only problem is: where to go?

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Thu, Dec 2, 2010
from Politico:
GOP plans strategy to stymie EPA
...GOP lawmakers say they want to upend a host of Environmental Protection Agency rules by whatever means possible, including the Congressional Review Act, a rarely used legislative tool that allows Congress to essentially veto recently completed agency regulations. The law lets sponsors skip Senate filibusters, meaning Republicans don't have to negotiate with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for a floor vote or secure the tricky 60 votes typically needed to do anything in the Senate...A spate of contentious EPA rules that are soon to be finalized could be prime targets, including the national air quality standard for ozone, toxic emission limits for industrial boilers and a pending decision about whether to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste. ...


The GOP must be suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder.

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Wed, Dec 1, 2010
from Associated Press:
Citing BP, Obama rejects East Coast oil drilling
Pointing to the BP blowout and risks of a new environmental disaster, the Obama administration reversed itself Wednesday and promised not to pursue offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or anywhere else along the nation's East Coast. The decision was hailed in Florida, which depends on tourists drawn by the state's white beaches, but criticized by the oil industry, which said the administration was stifling crucial U.S. energy production and costing recession-battered jobseekers golden opportunities for new work. ...


Chill, baby, chill!

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Wed, Dec 1, 2010
from ScienceDaily:
Transgenic Crops: How Genes Jump from Crop to Crop
A new data-driven statistical model that incorporates the surrounding landscape in unprecedented detail describes the transfer of an inserted bacterial gene via pollen and seed dispersal in cotton plants more accurately than previously available methods.... The transfer of genes from genetically modified crop plants is a hotly debated issue. Many consumers are concerned about the possibility of genetic material from transgenic plants mixing with non-transgenic plants on nearby fields. Producers, on the other side, have a strong interest in knowing whether the varieties they are growing are free from unwanted genetic traits.... Genes can be transferred in several ways, for example by pollinators such as bees, or through accidental seed mixing during farming operations. Surprisingly, the team found that pollinating insects, widely believed to be the key factor in moving transgenic pollen into neighboring crop fields, had a small impact on gene flow compared to human farming activity, with less than one percent of seeds collected around the edges of non-Bt cotton fields resulting from bee pollination between Bt and non-Bt cotton. ...


You trying to blame humans again?

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Wed, Dec 1, 2010
from BBC:
Mercury 'turns' wetland birds such as ibises homosexual
Mercury affects the behaviour of white ibises by "turning them homosexual", with higher doses resulting in males being more likely to pair with males. Scientists in Florida and Sri Lanka studied the effect of mercury in the birds' diet. Their aim was to find out why it reduced the ibises' breeding. Mercury pollution can come from burning coal and waste, and run-off from mines. The report, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that wetland birds are particularly badly affected by it. Although the researchers already knew that eating mercury-contaminated food could affect an animal's development, they were surprised by the "strange" results of this experiment. "We knew mercury could depress their testosterone (male sex hormone) levels," explained Dr Peter Frederick from the University of Florida, who led the study. "But we didn't expect this." The team fed white ibises on food pellets that contained concentrations of mercury equivalent to those measured in the shrimp and crayfish that make up the birds' wetland diet. The higher the dose of mercury in their food pellets, the more likely a male bird was to pair with another male. Dr Frederick and his colleagues say the study shows that mercury could dramatically reduce the breeding rates of birds and possibly of other wildlife. ...


Society, I'm afraid, is still working under the "don't ask, don't tell" regime.

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Wed, Dec 1, 2010
from Sydney Morning Herald:
Australian Great Barrier Reef not looking so great
They began the world-first experiment on a two-square-metre patch of the reef off Heron Island in May and found damage to the reef more serious than expected. They will soon remove the four experimental chambers - two simulating future carbon dioxide levels and two with control conditions. They are using more than 20 precision instruments to monitor the changing water chemistry. The experiment simulates the predicted levels of carbon emissions in 2050. Team member David Kline said the group had noted that in only eight months the part of the reef with the higher CO2 levels already looked quite different. ''What is growing there has changed, the types of algae are different and, based on our research, we would expect that the growth rate of the coral would have slowed,'' he said. ''If people's CO2 emissions continue as they have, the future of the reef is very grim. I would suggest that coral reefs will be highly altered and perturbed ecosystems by 2050 if we do not make a massive effort to curb our emissions. The findings back up much of the previous research that finds ocean acidification will have serious impacts on reefs.''... Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said scientists could use the data to predict at what point the reef would fade away. ''The corals are disappearing at a rate of 1 or 2 per cent a year ... If you multiply that by 20 years, that's 40 per cent.'' ...


A percent here, a percent there, pretty soon it adds up to real damage. Oh, hey, that might have implications elsewhere!

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Wed, Dec 1, 2010
from Earth Institute:
California's Water Rights Controversy: Should Farmers Be Allowed to Transfer Water to Developers?
Two farmers in San Joaquin Valley, California have recently come under scrutiny for proposing to sell their water rights to developers. As a part of the Dudley Ridge Water District they have the right to draw up to 57,343 acre-feet of water per year from the California State Water Project. (An acre-foot is the amount it takes to cover an acre of land in a foot of water - about twice as much as an average household uses in a year.) The California Department of Water Resources defines its State Water Project as "a water storage and delivery system of reservoirs, aqueducts, powerplants and pumping plants," 30 percent of which is set aside for agriculture and from which farmers are allotted their yearly supply. Under this potential sale, the farmers would be paid a total of $11.7 million dollars, as they sell the water at a price of $5,850 per acre-foot to the Tejon Ranch who will have access to 2,000 acre-feet per year. This kind of arrangement is not limited to these two farmers, and is an increasingly common occurrence as the water a farm has access to becomes more valuable than the returns from actually growing crops. Last year, the Dudley Ridge Water District sold 14,000 acre feet of water to the Mojave Water District for a total gain of $73 million. While the idea of transferring water is not new, the main difference is that while up until this point the majority of water transfers have been temporary agreements between districts, this is a permanent transfer of water.... Another commonly echoed argument against permanent and long-term water transfers is that it gives farmers an unfair advantage since they pay a mere $500 per acre-foot compared with the districtís selling price of $5,850 per acre-foot. ...


"Farming water" seems a little bit of a stretch, but not at those profit margins.

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Tue, Nov 30, 2010
from Mongabay.com:
Consumer goods industry announces goal of zero deforestation in Cancun
While governments continue to stall on action to cut greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, global corporations are promising big changes to tackle their responsibilities. The Board of Consumer Goods Forum (BCGF) has approved a resolution to achieve net zero deforestation by 2020 in products such as palm oil, soy, beef, and paper. Announced yesterday at the UN Climate Summit in Cancun, the BCGF has stated the goal will be met both by individual actions within companies and collective action, including partnerships with NGOs, development banks, and governments. With such giants as Walmart, Unilever, Carrefour, and General Mills, BCGF is made up of four hundred global consumer goods manufacturers and retailers totaling over $2.8 trillion in revenue. ...


And in the meantime, maybe we can do our part by not consuming so much crap!

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Tue, Nov 30, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Feminized male fish less likely to be fathers
Male fish feminized by exposure to environmental estrogens do not father as many offspring as their normal counterparts, suggesting the changes may alter wild fish populations. Male fish with a high degree of intersex produce fewer offspring when competing with normal males, according to a laboratory study that examined reproduction in intersex male fish - those with both male and female attributes. Although much is known about intersex fish, little is understood about how the condition affects the number of fish in the wild. This is an important question because the consequences of intersex become even greater if it leads to declines in fish population size. ...


You'd think these more sensitive male fish would get the girl MORE often.

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Tue, Nov 30, 2010
from The Washington Post:
Greenpeace accuses Dow Chemical, Sasol and P.R. allies of corporate spying
A federal lawsuit filed Monday alleges that Dow Chemical, Sasol North America and their contractors waged a two-year campaign of illegal corporate espionage against the environmental group Greenpeace and its allies. The 56-page suit, filed by Greenpeace in U.S. District Court in the District, said the chemical companies and public relations firms Dezenhall Resources and Ketchum hired former executives at a private security firm to spy on Greenpeace from 1998 to 2000 and to perform a range of "clandestine and unlawful" actions to undermine its anti-pollution efforts against the chemical industry.... the lawsuit alleges, among other things, that agents trolled through Greenpeace's privately secured garbage and recycling dumpsters at least 120 times, including 55 times using an off-duty District police officer. ...


That 56-page suit better be printed on recycled paper.

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Tue, Nov 30, 2010
from NUVO Newsweekly:
A ringside seat at the end of the world: 127 Hours
...Once I worked through the trauma of having watched this film, I began to think of its larger, metaphoric aspects. For those of you who thought there'd be some respite from the theme of this column, sorry! Ralston is somewhat of a Peter Pan loner, afraid of commitment, doing whatever the heck he wants, whenever he wants, never telling anyone where he's going (a key theme of the film). Meanwhile, there's a comeuppance to his arrogance in the form of the accident, and Ralston has to do something inconceivable to survive. Now consider the USA in terms of our hero's predicament: four percent of the world population, burning 25 percent of its energy, going it alone in its nascent, Peter Pan stages as a nation, and there's the ongoing accident called climate change. The country is going about its business (business, first!) and even under a we-can-change Obama administration, climate change policy has been put on the back, increasingly hot burner as we turn our attention to more immediate needs. ...


In the 11th hour of his 127 hours, Aron Ralston did the unimaginable!

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Tue, Nov 30, 2010
from TreeHugger:
How Climate Change Threatens the American Farmer
Called An Almanac of Extreme Weather, it's an op-ed for the New York Times written by Jack Hedin, a Minnesotan farmer whose family has been in the business since his great-grandfather homesteaded the land in the late 1800s. He describes the increasingly extreme weather that fits the projections made by climate models, and details the hardship he, his family, and his peers will face as heavy floods become more powerful and more frequent. Hedin notes that even his great grandfather, who recorded in his memoirs the damage dealt by the tornadoes and droughts of the Dust Bowl in the 30s, would be taken aback by the weather his great-grandson's family is coping with today. He mentions that the state's climatologist has said that there have already been three "thousand-year rains" in the past seven years in his part of the state -- and that the trend is expected to continue.... "Climate change, I believe, may eventually pose an existential threat to my way of life. A family farm like ours may simply not be able to adjust quickly enough to such unendingly volatile weather. We can't charge enough for our crops in good years to cover losses in the ever-more-frequent bad ones. We can't continue to move to better, drier ground. No new field drainage scheme will help us as atmospheric carbon concentrations edge up to 400 parts per million; hardware and technology alone can't solve problems of this magnitude." ...


Dear God: is there somebody we can bribe to get out of this mess?

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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Mon, Nov 29, 2010
from PhysOrg:
Research highlights the 'human face' of climate change
Barry Smit is the Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change, and since 2005 he's studied how Arctic communities have tried to adapt to the rising temperatures caused by major shifts in global weather patterns. The human dimension of climate change has long been understudied, says Smit, who is taking part this week in a panel discussion on the environment and economy at the first ever Canada Research Chairs conference in Toronto. Over the course of two research projects - one with ArcticNet and another with the International Polar Year project - Smit has seen first-hand how Canada's Inuit have dealt with changing ice levels, wind speed, migration routes, and so on.... Some communities are seeing their dietary patterns evolve because the animals they've traditionally hunted have shifted their migratory patterns, says Smit. That shift has caused those communities to rely on grocery stores for their food - and since the groceries found in Canada's arctic are often no better than "what we in the south would generally characterize as junk food," that's led to teeth problems and higher rates of diabetes, says Smit.... "The ice is their highway. And one of the thing they've noticed is that their highway is collapsing in places it's never collapsed before," he says. ...


Accidental microcosmic phrases can make me weep.

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Mon, Nov 29, 2010
from Chicago Tribune, via Portland Press-Herald:
Great Lakes bird die-off still a mystery
The hunt is on in the upper reaches of Lake Michigan to count what's believed to be thousands of bird carcasses that have washed ashore this fall -- a staggering toll blamed on the disruptive powers of invasive species that have taken root in the Great Lakes. All invasive species bring consequences that few can predict, leading scientists to ponder the thousands of gulls, loons, mergansers and other migratory birds whose remains wash ashore along the beaches in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's upper peninsula each fall. There is a somewhat controversial theory for this annual die-off, which by some estimates has claimed more than 100,000 birds in the past 15 years, involving a type of naturally occurring but deadly botulism linked to the spread of invasive zebra and quagga mussels, which entered the Great Lakes decades ago aboard ocean vessels. "There's still a lot about this we don't know," said Joe Kaplan, of the Michigan-based nonprofit Common Coast Research & Conservation. "The one thing we do know is that it's killing a lot of birds that are important to us."... The first sizable bird die-off count came in 1999, when researchers recorded 311 birds off the shores of Lake Erie. The following year, they found 8,000 around the Great Lakes and the death counts have remained in the thousands every year since. ...


Those are naturally occurring invasive species, y'know.

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Mon, Nov 29, 2010
from Center for Public Integrity:
Big Polluters Freed from Environmental Oversight by Stimulus
In the name of job creation and clean energy, the Obama administration has doled out billions of dollars in stimulus money to some of the nation's biggest polluters and granted them sweeping exemptions from the most basic form of environmental oversight, a Center for Public Integrity investigation has found. The administration has awarded more than 179,000 "categorical exclusions" to stimulus projects funded by federal agencies, freeing those projects from review under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. Coal-burning utilities like Westar Energy and Duke Energy, chemical manufacturer DuPont, and ethanol maker Didion Milling are among the firms with histories of serious environmental violations that have won blanket NEPA exemptions...Agency officials who granted the exemptions told the Center that they do not have time in most cases to review the environmental compliance records of stimulus recipients, and do not believe past violations should affect polluters' chances of winning stimulus money or the NEPA exclusions. ...


Unfortunately, we DO have time to breathe... drink... eat...

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Mon, Nov 29, 2010
from Boston Globe:
Sudden-drought scenario
But according to recent research on the historical ecology of the Andes Mountains, conducted in part by an assistant professor at Westfield State University, those steady changes could reach a tipping point that would, in some cases, flip local ecosystems on their heads. The scientists examined fossilized pollen in Lake Titicaca on the border of Peru and Bolivia, the world's highest-elevation great lake. That, they said, allowed them to look about 370,000 years back in time. They found that in two periods of past warming, the lake shrank by as much as 85 percent, and the surrounding grassland ecosystem was turned into a desert. Based on their work, the group then projected that if temperatures were to rise between 3 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit, parts of high-elevation Bolivia and Peru would become desert-like as early as 2040. Such a change could be disastrous for the water supply for Bolivia's capital city, La Paz, and for farming.... Scientists have assumed such tipping points would take place, but the study allowed researchers to do something new: project the future.... "The implications would be profound for some 2 million people," said Paul Filmer, a foundation program director. ...


I'll see your two million and raise you six billion.

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Mon, Nov 29, 2010
from Scientific American:
Worst case study: global temp up 7.2F degrees by 2060s
World temperatures could soar by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the 2060s in the worst case of global climate change and require an annual investment of $270 billion just to contain rising sea levels, studies suggested on Sunday. Such a rapid rise, within the lifetimes of many young people today, is double the 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) ceiling set by 140 governments at a U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen last year and would disrupt food and water supplies in many parts of the globe. Rising greenhouse gas emissions this decade meant the 2 degree goal was "extremely difficult, arguably impossible, raising the likelihood of global temperature rises of 3 or 4 degrees C within this century," an international team wrote.... One of the papers gave what it called a "pragmatic estimate" that sea levels might rise by between 0.5 and 2 meters (1.64 to 6.56 feet) by 2100 if temperatures rose 4 degrees Celsius. Containing a sea level rise of 2 meters, mostly building Dutch-style sea walls, would require annual investments of up to $270 billion a year by 2100. ...


Good news, since our worst case scenarios are much worser.

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