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What A Week It Was: Apocadocuments from
View By Scenario:
Species Collapse:()
Plague/Virus:()
Climate Chaos:(8)
Resource Depletion: (1)
Biology Breach:(5)
Recovery:(1)
This Week's Top Ten Very Scary Tags:
climate impacts  ~ anthropogenic change  ~ health impacts  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ carbon emissions  ~ deniers  ~ global warming  ~ koyaanisqatsi  ~ massive die-off  ~ airborne pollutants  ~ stupid humans  



ApocaDocuments (15) gathered this week:
Sun, May 1, 2011
from Bloomberg:
Disaster Needed for U.S. to Act on Climate Change, Harvard's Stavins Says
The U.S. probably won't take significant steps to curb climate change until an environmental disaster sways public view and prompts political action, Robert Stavins of Harvard University said. "It's unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction," Stavins, director of Harvard's Environmental Economics Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said today in an interview in Bloomberg's Boston office.... Stavins, an economist, is a member of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said in 2007 that scientists are more than 90 percent certain that humans are causing global warming.... "There's a legit reason for the public to be skeptical about climate change because they don't see it," Stavins said. Grabbing the public's attention would require a dramatic development, such as a "well-observed melting of parts of polar ice caps that result in some amount of sea-level rise," Stavins said. ...


Yeah, whaddaya expect from the public, abstract thinking?

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Sun, May 1, 2011
from Yale360:
Outsourced Emissions Dwarf CO2 Cuts in Developed World, Study Says
Carbon emission reductions achieved since 1990 by the world's developed nations were canceled out many times over by the increase of imported goods from nations without binding emissions targets, including China, according to a new report. While climate policies, including the Kyoto Protocol, stabilized carbon emissions in many wealthy nations from 1990 to 2008, most of these nations increased their "consumption-based" emissions significantly during this period because of large imports, according to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, which the authors call the first global assessment of how international trade affected national carbon footprints since Kyoto, says that while developed nations reduced their CO2 emissions by 2 percent from 1990 to 2008, those emissions actually increased by 7 percent when imports were factored in. "This suggests that the current focus on territorial emissions in a subset of countries may be ineffective at reducing global emissions without some mechanisms to monitor and report emissions from the production of imported goods and services," said Glen Peters of the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research and lead author of the study. ...


Environmental default swaps gone wild.

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Sat, Apr 30, 2011
from Mother Jones:
The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science
... an array of new discoveries in psychology and neuroscience has further demonstrated how our preexisting beliefs, far more than any new facts, can skew our thoughts and even color what we consider our most dispassionate and logical conclusions. This tendency toward so-called "motivated reasoning" helps explain why we find groups so polarized over matters where the evidence is so unequivocal: climate change, vaccines, "death panels," the birthplace and religion of the president (PDF), and much else. It would seem that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts...We're not driven only by emotions, of course -- we also reason, deliberate. But reasoning comes later, works slower -- and even then, it doesn't take place in an emotional vacuum. Rather, our quick-fire emotions can set us on a course of thinking that's highly biased, especially on topics we care a great deal about. ...


I refuse to believe I'm in denial.

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Sat, Apr 30, 2011
from Climatewire:
Scientists Probe Genetic Component of Climate-Hardy Species
Douglas firs have more than 38,000 genes, roughly twice the number in the human genome. So any gene that has helped those trees survive extreme drought, heat and disease has been passed down through generations of seedlings... Forest Service researchers are in the midst of teasing out which of those genes help Douglas firs and 39 other species of plants, animals and pathogens found in Western forests adapt to climate change. Armed with that information, managers could select more robust seeds to replant forests destroyed by fire or disease, or propagate those seeds to help conserve a species. ...


What do you wanna bet mountain pine beetles and emerald ash borers have their researchers working on this, too.

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Sat, Apr 30, 2011
from USA Today:
Climate change could spawn more tornadoes
As with any major weather disaster these days -- from floods and hurricanes to wildfires and this week's tornado outbreak in the South -- people ask questions about its relation to the huge elephant that's lurking in the corner, global climate change. Two separate studies in 2007 reported that global warming could bring a dramatic increase in the frequency of weather conditions that feed severe thunderstorms and tornadoes by the end of the 21st century. One study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that locations could see as much as a 100 percent increase in the number of days that favor severe thunderstorms. ...


And by "elephant," are we referring to those blood-sucking, climate-denying Republicans??

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Thu, Apr 28, 2011
from Duke University via ScienceDaily:
Record Number of Whales, Krill Found in Antarctic Bays
Scientists have observed a "super-aggregation" of more than 300 humpback whales gorging on the largest swarm of Antarctic krill seen in more than 20 years in bays along the Western Antarctic Peninsula. The sightings, made in waters still largely ice-free deep into austral autumn, suggest the previously little-studied bays are important late-season foraging grounds for the endangered whales. But they also highlight how rapid climate change is affecting the region..."The lack of sea ice is good news for the whales in the short term, providing them with all-you-can-eat feasts as the krill migrate vertically toward the bay's surface each night. But it is bad news in the long term for both species, and for everything else in the Southern Ocean that depends on krill," says Ari S. Friedlaender, co-principal investigator on the project and a research scientist at Duke. ...


A krilling spree by humpback chumps.

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Thu, Apr 28, 2011
from USA Today:
Metro areas with dirtiest air get cleaner
Most U.S. cities with the dirtiest air are getting cleaner, but about half of Americans still live in areas where it's often difficult to breathe, the American Lung Association reports today. The group's 12th annual "State of the Air" report comes amid congressional efforts to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions....EPA's 2009 data, released last week, shows total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions -- primarily carbon dioxide -- fell 6.1 percent from 2008, the largest decline in at least five years. The agency, which began a multiyear plan to regulate these emissions in January, attributed the drop to less polluting fuels and lower energy consumption because of the recession. ...


The United States of Airborne Particulates

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Thu, Apr 28, 2011
from Houston Chronicle:
Congress puts limits on lead in cross hairs
Aiming squarely at guarding the rights of sportsmen and America's ammo, bait and tackle shops, a powerful group of congressmen is pushing back against environmentalists and any federal regulation that would restrict the use of lead in outdoor gear... The bill's sponsors have drawn support from the nearly 300-strong Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, created to serve as "the sportsmen's ally and first line of defense in Washington promoting and protecting the rights of hunters, trappers and anglers." Environmentalists see it differently; they say residual deposits of lead left by hunters and fisherman are being ingested by waterfowl, raptors and mammals, killing eagles, swans, cranes, endangered California condors and countless other wild animals. ...


Animals dying before you have a chance to shoot 'em just kinda takes the sport out of hunting.

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Wed, Apr 27, 2011
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Siberia's boreal forests 'will not survive climate change'
The boreal forests of Siberia are a vast, homogenous ecosystem dominated by larch trees. The trees survive in this semi-arid climate because of a unique symbiotic relationship they have with permafrost - the permafrost provides enough water to support larch domination and the larch in turn block radiation, protecting the permafrost from intensive thawing during the summer season. This relationship has now been successfully modelled for the first time, revealing its sensitivity to climate change. Ningning Zhang and colleagues from Nagoya University, Japan, have predicted that the larch trees will not be able to survive even the most optimistic climate change scenario of a 4 degree C increase in summer temperature in Siberia by the year 2100. "We found that the larch-dominated boreal forest-permafrost coupled system in Siberia would be threatened by future warming of 2 degrees C or more," Zhang told environmentalresearchweb. "However, our simulations also show that, even with 4 degree C warming, some tree species can still survive, but with considerable loss of biomass." ...


Sounds like a great place for a palm oil plantation!

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Wed, Apr 27, 2011
from Massachusetts Institute of Technology via ScienceDaily:
Solar Power Goes Viral: Researchers Use Virus to Improve Solar-Cell Efficiency
Researchers at MIT have found a way to make significant improvements to the power-conversion efficiency of solar cells by enlisting the services of tiny viruses to perform detailed assembly work at the microscopic level...that's where viruses come to the rescue. Graduate students Xiangnan Dang and Hyunjung Yi -- working with Angela Belcher, the W. M. Keck Professor of Energy, and several other researchers -- found that a genetically engineered version of a virus called M13, which normally infects bacteria, can be used to control the arrangement of the nanotubes on a surface, keeping the tubes separate so they can't short out the circuits, and keeping the tubes apart so they don't clump. ...


What could go wrong?

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Wed, Apr 27, 2011
from Alaska Dispatch:
Playing politics with climate change
What Americans believe about climate change depends almost entirely on their political affiliation and not their scientific understanding, according to a new national study that found the same dynamic in two regions of Southeast Alaska. Democrats who claim knowledge of the issue appear to be in firm agreement with the nation's leading scientific organizations -- that human activity and greenhouse gas emissions have become the main drivers behind an accelerating global climate shift. But Republicans don't buy it. While most do agree that the climate has begun to change, they mostly blame the phenomenon on natural forces that lie beyond human control. ...


Are you a Smartocrat or a Stupidlican?

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Wed, Apr 27, 2011
from London Guardian:
Forest fires around Chernobyl could release radiation, scientists warn
A consortium of Ukrainian and international scientists is making an urgent call for a $13.5m (£8.28m) programme to prevent potentially catastrophic wildfires inside the exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl's ruined nuclear power plant. The fear is that fires in the zone could release clouds of radioactive particles that are, at the moment, locked up in trees, held mainly in the needles and bark of Scots pines....If there is a catastrophic or "crown" fire (a high-intensity wildfire affecting a large part of the CEZ) radionuclides could be dispersed over a wide area; a big fire could send radioactivity as far as Britain. ...


Smokey the Russian Bear says Only YOU can prevent nuclear radiation.

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Tue, Apr 26, 2011
from Indiana University:
IU study finds flame retardants at high levels in pet dogs
Indiana University scientists have found chemical flame retardants in the blood of pet dogs at concentrations five to 10 times higher than in humans, but lower than levels found in a previous study of cats. Their study, "Flame Retardants in the Serum of Pet Dogs and in their Food," appears this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Authors are Marta Venier, an assistant research scientist in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and Ronald Hites, a Distinguished Professor in SPEA. Venier and Hites explore whether pets could serve as "biosentinels" for monitoring human exposure to compounds present in the households that they share. Dogs may be better proxies than cats, they say, because a dog's metabolism is better equipped to break down the chemicals. ...


It always comes down to cats vs. dogs, doesn't it?

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Tue, Apr 26, 2011
from London Guardian:
London Olympics pollution on course to land Britain hefty fine from IOC
Britain could be fined up to £175m by the International Olympic Committee if it continues to break air pollution laws by the time the Games begin next August. The prospect of the air pollution penalty is becoming a major source of embarrassment to the government and Olympic organisers who set a goal of making the Games "the greenest ever" but have already watered down green measures planned for the event. To meet the legally binding agreement, London may have to reduce traffic levels by more than 30 percent over a period of nearly a month, raising the possibility of draconian measures such as banning cars with number plates ending in odd and even numbers on alternate days. ...


Then I'll just buy an additional car.

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Tue, Apr 26, 2011
from Columbia University via ScienceDaily:
Ozone Hole Linked to Climate Change All the Way to the Equator
In a study to be published in the April 21st issue of Science, researchers at Columbia University's School of Engineering and Applied Science report their findings that the ozone hole, which is located over the South Pole, has affected the entire circulation of the Southern Hemisphere all the way to the equator. While previous work has shown that the ozone hole is changing the atmospheric flow in the high latitudes, the new Columbia Engineering paper demonstrates that the ozone hole is able to influence the tropical circulation and increase rainfall at low latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere. This is the first time that ozone depletion, an upper atmospheric phenomenon confined to the polar regions, has been linked to climate change from the Pole to the equator. ...


The ozone... knows all!

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