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What A Week It Was: Apocadocuments from
View By Scenario:
Species Collapse:(4)
Climate Chaos:(11)
Resource Depletion: (4)
Biology Breach:(4)
This Week's Top Ten Very Scary Tags:
faster than expected  ~ arctic meltdown  ~ climate impacts  ~ weather extremes  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ ocean warming  ~ global warming  ~ economic myopia  ~ feedback loop  ~ holyshit  ~ permafrost meltdown  

ApocaDocuments (27) gathered this week:
Sun, Jul 3, 2011
from New York Times:
Ruptured Pipeline Spills Oil Into Yellowstone River
An ExxonMobil pipeline running under the Yellowstone River in south central Montana ruptured late Friday, spilling crude oil into the river and forcing evacuations. The pipeline burst about 10 miles west of Billings, coating parts of the Yellowstone River that run past Laurel -- a town of about 6,500 people downstream from the rupture -- with shiny patches of oil. Precisely how much oil leaked into the river was still unclear. But throughout the day Saturday, cleanup crews in Laurel worked to lessen the impact of the spill, laying down absorbent sheets along the banks of the river to mop up some of the escaped oil, and measuring fumes to determine the health threat.... While the cause of the rupture was not immediately known, Brent Peters, the fire chief for Laurel, told The A.P. that it may have been caused by high waters eroding parts of the river bed and exposing the pipeline to debris.... ...

Who could have anticipated that a Montana riverbed might change in response to extreme weather?


Sun, Jul 3, 2011
from BBC:
Tanzania 'will mine uranium on Selous Game Reserve' -- World Heritage Site
Tanzania will go ahead with plans to mine uranium in the UN World Heritage site Selous Game Reserve, the natural resources minister has told the BBC. Ezekiel Maige said he told the recent UN World Heritage Centre meeting it would mean the park's size would need to be reduced by less than 1 percent. The UN body said it would approve the plans, as long as environmental assessments were carried out. Money made from the mining would help in the park's upkeep, Mr Maige said. According to the UN cultural organisation Unesco, the 5m hectare-Selous Game Reserve in the south of Tanzania has large numbers of elephants, black rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles - and is relatively undisturbed by humans.... Firms could expect to earn $200m each year from mining uranium from the site, of which $5m would be paid to the government, he said. Some of this would be able to help with the costly business of managing the park, and it would provide employment for about 1,600 Tanzanians.... He said it currently costs the government about $490,000 a year to manage it and the income from mining would help pay for guards to stop poaching.... ...

Two and a half percent seems a fair royalty, at least when amortized over the next seven generations.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011
from Bloomberg:
Amazon Deforestation Rates Double as Farmers Anticipate Pardons
Deforestation rates in the Amazon, the world's biggest rain forest, more than doubled in May as Brazilian farmers become more confident they'll be granted amnesty for illegal logging. Almost 268 square kilometers (66,200 acres) of protected rain forest were cut down in May, up from 110 square kilometers a year ago, the National Institute for Space Research said in an e-mailed statement. Brazil lawmakers are considering a bill that alters its forestry code and would forgive farmers who illegally cleared trees. The possibility that the government may ease these restrictions is encouraging more logging, said Marcio Astrini, coordinator of forest campaigns for Greenpeace International's Brazil unit. That would hamper international efforts to fight global warming by protecting trees that absorb greenhouse gases. "Brazil's been reducing its deforestation for the last five years and this bill comes along and now it shoots up," Astrini said yesterday by phone. "There is only one reason why deforestation is increasing: it's called the forestry code," which may be changing. ...

There's more than one way to skin a rainforest.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011
from MSNBC:
Report: Twenty-five years since global temperatures were below average
It's been more than 300 months since the average global average temperature was below average, scientists and the U.S. government said in the annual State of the Climate report released Tuesday. The experts tracked 41 climate indicators, four more than in the previous year, and "they all show a continued tendency," said Tom Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center. "The indicators show unequivocally that the world continues to warm." "There is a clear and unmistakable signal from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans," added Peter Thorne of the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites at North Carolina State University.... At the NOAA briefing, Karl added that the Greenland ice sheet lost more mass last year than any year in the last decade. Melting of the land-based ice sheets in places like Greenland, Antarctica and other regions has raised concerns about rising sea levels worldwide. "The arctic is changing faster that most of the rest of the world," added Walt Meier, a research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado. "This has long been expected." In addition, he said, the September Arctic sea ice extent was the third smallest in 30 years, older, thicker sea ice is disappearing, there is a shorter duration of snow cover, and the permafrost is melting. ...

Is that a new average reality hitting our head or are you just mad to see us?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Ocean currents speed melting of Antarctic ice
Stronger ocean currents beneath West Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf are eroding the ice from below, speeding the melting of the glacier as a whole, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience. A growing cavity beneath the ice shelf has allowed more warm water to melt the ice, the researchers say - a process that feeds back into the ongoing rise in global sea levels.... "More warm water from the deep ocean is entering the cavity beneath the ice shelf, and it is warmest where the ice is thickest," said study's lead author.... One goal was to study oceanic changes near the Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf, which they had visited in an earlier expedition, in 1994. The researchers found that in 15 years, melting beneath the ice shelf had risen by about 50 percent. ...

Is it melting half-faster, or not-melting half-slower?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011
from PhysOrg:
'Goat plague' threat to global food security and economy must be tackled, experts warn
"Goat plague," or peste des petits ruminants (PPR), is threatening global food security and poverty alleviation in the developing world, say leading veterinarians and animal health experts in this week's Veterinary Record.... It's important to control the infection because it spreads quickly through goat herds and sheep flocks, decimating their numbers, and taking a terrible financial toll on the farmers and families who depend on these animals for their livelihoods, say the authors. And it has also spread to wildlife species, many of which are endangered or threatened.... They go on to say that there has been a reluctance to tackle the issue because sheep and goats are considered to be of lesser economic value than cattle, and their shorter working lives mean that it would cost more to eradicate PPR. But they warn: "The ever advancing spread of PPR has made the economic impact of the disease, and consequently the benefits of its eradication, much greater. The imperative for coordinated action is therefore much stronger." ...

Goats? Who cares about goats?


Thu, Jun 30, 2011
from National Post:
Pacific species migrating through warmer Northwest Passage
Set loose by an ice-free Northwest Passage, an invasion force of Pacific sea creatures are moving east to Atlantic waters. Researchers at the U.K.-based Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science have called the discovery of a microscopic west coast plant on the east coast a "harbinger of an inundation of the North Atlantic with foreign organisms."... "The Arctic is getting easier to navigate ... organisms that don't even swim are getting through," says Eric Solomon, director of conservation strategy at the Vancouver Aquarium.... "There's going to be some reshuffling of the ecosystems," says Mr. O'Dor. "Whether that's good for humans or bad for humans is yet to be determined." The invasion is already bad news for Newfoundland's ravaged Atlantic cod. While the decimated cod stock may no longer be threatened by fishing nets, they are "facing a potentially mutating ecosystem with the arrival of these different species," says Julian Dodson, a marine biologist at the University of Laval. He notes Arctic char are already facing tough competition for food by schools of east-moving capelin, a small forage fish.... Pacific salmon have begun cropping up off the Arctic coast of Alaska, and Atlantic salmon are appearing near Iqaluit. It is "inevitable" the two species will eventually collide, says Mr. O'Dor. ...

We've run out of immigration forms!!


Thu, Jun 30, 2011
from Grist:
In the worst drought in Texas history, 13.5 billion gallons of water used for fracking
Texas is experiencing the driest eight-month period in its recorded history. But in 2010, natural gas companies used 13.5 billion gallons of fresh water for hydraulic fracturing, and that could more than double by 2020. Where's all this water coming from? Oh, it was just lying around, in these aquifers! You guys weren't using it to drink or irrigate or anything, right? Guys? Crockett County, Tx., near San Angelo (which you probably also haven't heard of, but it's not near much else), has gotten less than two inches of rain since October. But water for fracking could soon make up 25 percent of the county's water usage, according to its groundwater conservation manager. Fracking takes between 50,000 and 4 million gallons for a single well, on average, and could take as many as 13 million gallons. And most of that water is gone for good -- 75 percent of it can't be recovered. ...

Think we slow down business just because of drought? You don't know Texas!


Thu, Jun 30, 2011
from NOAA:
State of the Climate for 2010 (PDF of slideshow)
Global average surface temperature among the two warmest of the instrumental record ~~ Greenland's ice sheet lost more mass in 2010 than at any time in the past ten years ~~ Consistent and unmistakable signal from the top of the atmosphere to the bottom of the oceans ~~ Many extreme events at regional and local levels ~~ Trends in snow cover duration, permafrost, and vegetation continued or accelerated ~~ Record-setting temperatures along entire western Greenland, both near the ground and higher in the atmosphere ~~ 2010 report tracks 41 climate indicators. Long-term trends continue to show the world is warming. ...

All that, in twelve slides?!?


Thu, Jun 30, 2011
from National Geographic:
Hold the Champagne: Highway to Split Serengeti After All?
But after a closer look at the official Tanzanian statement behind the reports, it's questions, not toasts, that are being raised, and conservationists are divided as to whether it means the highway is truly canceled.... Officially, the road was supposed to boost Tanzania's economy by linking isolated, impoverished Serengeti villages outside the park with the Tanzanian city of Arusha, to the east, and the shores of Lake Victoria and other central African nations, to the west. Some conservationists, though, have speculated that the real motive for the road is to accommodate mining interests or to lay the groundwork for a railway.... Duke's Pimm agreed. "Many in the conservation community are not popping the champagne cork just yet," he said. "This is not enough." Gravel or paved, an expanded road that bisects the park will be devastating to Serengeti wildlife, he added. "A road by any other name is still going to be a disaster," Pimm said. "I think this is sophistry. ... They're still going to build a road." ...

We just want to migrate the minerals to where they belong -- what's wrong with that?


Thu, Jun 30, 2011
from KPCD:
Drought, wildfires lead to natural disaster declaration by USDA
In all, 213 counties in Texas have lost at least 30 percent of their crops or pasture due to the drought and wildfires, according to the USDA. By declaring a natural disaster, farmers and ranchers will be able to qualify for emergency loans at lower interest rates. Every county in the South Plains is eligible. Tuesday we talked to South Plains farmers about the declaration. "This is a disaster," Scott Harmon continued. "This is a train wreck." Harmon's family has been farming land just south of Idalou since the 1920's. "We've never seen anything like this before," Harmon told us. "People are scared, they don't know what to do and what's going to happen to them next." ...

And we can't even sue the folks that got us here.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011
from EcoHearth:
Eerily Silent Summer Nights: Dead Crickets and Poisoned California Water
I remembered recently reading an article about the top pesticide source that is disrupting aquatic life in the Sacramento San Joaquim Delta, which supplies water to 23 million Californians. The culprits are Pyrethroids, a common synthetic pesticide that researchers first suspected entered the water cycle with agricultural runoff. But the largest quantities actually flow from urban Sacramento and cities in surrounding counties, either from an excessive use of shampoos to eliminate lice and fleas, or from people pouring leftover household pesticides down their drains. Pyrethroids are linked to neurological and thyroid damage as well as hormonal disruption, and they're extremely harmful to beneficial insects, including bees.... ... Borneo where, in the 1950s, the World Health Organization had sprayed roofs with DDT to eradicate malaria. This eliminated mosquitoes as well as the wasps that kept the thatch-eating caterpillars in check, which then thrived and ate the thatched roofs. So the government replaced the roofs with sheet metal, but the pounding rains kept people awake at night. The DDT-killed bugs were eaten by geckos, which were eaten by cats that also eventually died. Then the rats multiplied. Finally, the government had to commission Singapore's Royal Air Force to parachute cats into the country.... Lovins told this story to illustrate how everything is connected. Or as John Muir said, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." ...

I'm loathe to accept that everything's connected, if that means that I'm responsible for what I do.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011
from ScienceDaily:
Farm Animal Disease to Increase With Climate Change, Scientists Say
Researchers looked at changes in the behaviour of bluetongue -- a viral disease of cattle and sheep -- from the 1960s to the present day, as well as what could happen to the transmission of the virus 40 years into the future. They found, for the first time, that an outbreak of a disease could be explained by changes to the climate.... The team examined the effect of past climate on the risk of the virus over the past 50 years to understand the specific triggers for disease outbreak over time and throughout geographical regions. This model was then driven forwards in time, using predictive climate models, to the year 2050, to show how the disease may react to future climate change. Using these future projections, researchers found that in northern Europe there could be a 17 percent increase in incidence of the bluetongue virus, compared to 7 percent in southern regions, where it is already much warmer. ...

Y'know, there are worse things than going vegetarian.


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Wed, Jun 29, 2011
from Oregon State University, via EurekAlert:
Inkjet printing could change the face of solar energy industry
Engineers at Oregon State University have discovered a way for the first time to create successful "CIGS" solar devices with inkjet printing, in work that reduces raw material waste by 90 percent and will significantly lower the cost of producing solar energy cells with some very promising compounds. High performing, rapidly produced, ultra-low cost, thin film solar electronics should be possible, scientists said.... Part of the advantage of this approach, Chang said, is a dramatic reduction in wasted material. Instead of depositing chemical compounds on a substrate with a more expensive vapor phase deposition - wasting most of the material in the process - inkjet technology could be used to create precise patterning with very low waste. "Some of the materials we want to work with for the most advanced solar cells, such as indium, are relatively expensive," Chang said. "If that's what you're using you can't really afford to waste it, and the inkjet approach almost eliminates the waste." ...

Guess I'll stop investing in traditional solar, since a revolution is just around the corner.


Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from Reuters:
American climate skeptic Soon funded by oil, coal firms
Willie Soon, a U.S. climate change skeptic who has also discounted the health risks of mercury emissions from coal, has received more than $1 million in funding in recent years from large energy companies and an oil industry group, according to Greenpeace. Soon, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has also gotten funding from scientific sources including NASA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But starting early in the last decade, Soon began receiving more funding from the energy companies, Greenpeace reported. Last year, the foundation of Charles Koch, chairman and CEO of privately held Koch Industries, gave Soon $65,000 to study how variations in the Sun are related to climate change. Koch is co-owned by David Koch, founder of Americans for Prosperity, a group aligned with the Tea Party movement, which opposes new air pollution regulations.... Southern gave Soon $120,000 starting in 2008 to study the Sun's relation to climate change, according to the FOIA documents. Spokeswoman Stephanie Kirijan said Southern has spent about $500 million on environmental research and development and funding and did not fund Soon last year.... Soon also got $131,000 from oil major Exxon Mobil Corp in 2007 and 2008 received grants to study the Sun's role in climate change and global warming in the Arctic, Greenpeace said. ...

There's probably a joke about prostitutes and Koch, but it's eluding me....


Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from Huffington Post:
Mountaintop Removal Mining Birth Defects: New Study Suggests Controversial Coal Operations Linked To Adverse Health Effects
Researchers found "significantly higher" rates of birth defects in babies born near mountaintop removal mining sites than those in non-mining areas, according to a new study released last week. Mountaintop removal mining is a particularly environmentally destructive type of resource extraction that involves using explosives to blow the tops off of mountains to expose coal underneath the soil and rock. The unusable dirt and gravel are then disposed of in adjacent valleys and streams. MTR is used prominently in the Appalachian region of the eastern United States.... It found that rates for six out of seven types of birth defects -- circulatory/respiratory, central nervous system, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, urogenital and "other" -- were increased near MTR sites. The research suggests that contaminants are released into nearby environments from MTR, and that many of the contaminants are known to impair fetal development. "Rates for any anomaly were approximately 235 per 100,000 live births in the mountaintop mining area versus 144 per 100,000 live births in the non-mining area," the study says. Although not as high as near MTR sites, it also found increased incidences of birth defects in communities near underground mines.... "For those who actually pay attention to science, it's irrefutable," Kincaid said. "Would it be more obvious if the coal industry were using machine guns or gas chambers?"... Vice President of the West Virginia Coal Association Jason Bostic ... contends that there is "no connection" between coal mining and birth defects, and brushes off the study as "a fairy tale." "If anything, the involvement of the coal industry helps offset what would otherwise be worse health defects from poverty, isolation and lack of access to preventative medicine," Bostic said. "We're the ones providing health benefits and wellness plans to our employees and their dependents. Take us away and see how well it goes." ...

You can't make an omelet without flattening mountains and causing birth defects!


Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from CBC:
Rapid melting of Arctic sea ice possibly explained
Scientists have long puzzled over why Arctic sea ice is retreating at up to three times the rate that climate models say it should. In an effort to answer that question, a group of U.K-based explorers walked more than 500 kilometres of sea ice in the High Arctic, taking temperature readings of the ocean below them. They found a layer of cold, salty water about 200 metres down that they suspect has come from the melting of first-year ice. That meltwater has forced the relatively warmer water to the surface, where it's speeding up the decay of more ice.... The report concluded that sea ice retreat is 30 years ahead of where scientists thought it would be.... Year-old ice, however, remains fairly salty. And when it melts, it produces meltwater that's denser than the relatively fresh water from older ice. As multi-year ice declines throughout the Arctic, more of the saltier meltwater from younger ice is mixing into the ocean. That colder, denser water sinks more quickly and forces less dense water from deeper in the ocean up to the surface. Because fresh meltwater is colder than seawater, that means relatively warm water is being forced upwards. And that, said Boxall, may be part of the reason that sea ice is melting so much faster than anyone thought it would. ...

I'm so glad to understand the physics of the freight train bearing down on me.


Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from New Scientist:
Tasmanian devils were sitting ducks for deadly cancer
Despite its ferocious nature, the Tasmanian devil is a creature faced with extinction, the victim of a gruesome facial tumour disease. Now the first genetic sequencing of these carnivorous marsupials has revealed that we had a hand in their decline: centuries of human interference left the devils stripped of genetic diversity and vulnerable to disease. This meant that when the parasitic face cancer dubbed "Devil facial tumour disease" appeared in 1996 it rapidly spread through the entire population. As a result, the Tasmanian devil, or Sarcophilus harrisii, population has fallen over 60 per cent since 1996. The disease is transmitted by physical contact, mostly biting during sex. It is almost always fatal and has spread across most of Tasmania.... Some studies estimate the marsupials could be wiped out within decades.... Humans had a heavy hand in this. First the devils were wiped out in mainland Australia by dingoes brought in by settlers, then those that remained in Tasmania were hunted as pests, causing several population crashes. As their genetic diversity was slashed, the devils were left vulnerable to disease. ...

We didn't give the devil his due.


Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from Guardian:
China told to reduce food production or face 'dire' water levels
China needs to reduce food production on its dry northern plains or aquifers will diminish to a "dire" level in 30 years, one the country's leading groundwater experts has warned. Zheng Chunmiao, director of the Water Research Centre at Peking University, said the world's most populous country will have to focus more on demand-side restraint because it is becoming more expensive and difficult to tap finite supplies below the surface.... Over the past 10 years, Zheng estimates the annual water deficit in northern China at 4bn cubic metres. This is increasingly made up from underground sources, which account for 70 percent of water supplies. Although some aquifers remain 500 metres thick, others are emptying at an alarming rate. This has created depletion cones, the deepest of which is at Hengshui near Xizhuajiang.... Zheng said much more needs to be done, including demand reduction, water transfers and greater use of desalination plants. "We will get there because we have to," he said. "If nothing changes, then in 30 years, we will face a dire situation." ...

Surely we'll then find some other million-year-storehouse of something else that we can deplete.


Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from New York Times:
Greatest Threat to Caribou Herd in Canada Isn't From Wolves
Humans are a much bigger problem than wolves for a caribou herd in the oil sands area of Alberta, Canada, scientists reported last week in Frontiers in Ecology. Studies of scat of moose, caribou and wolves in the area showed that caribou accounted for only 10 percent of the animals consumed by wolves. Eighty percent of the wolves' diet was deer, with moose making up the remainder. Wolves' preference for deer, the researchers conclude, draws them away from the areas where caribou thrive. But the oil sands contain the second largest reserve of petroleum in the world, and so they face a heavy human presence as they are developed. And by looking at hormone levels in caribou scat, the scientists found that when humans were most active in an area, caribou nutrition was poorest and psychological stress highest. When oil crews left, the animals relaxed and nutrition improved.... The scientists reported that removing wolves, favored by government and industry, could do serious damage to the ecosystem, and fails to help preserve the caribou. (The study was paid for by Statoil Canada, an energy company with oil leases in the area.) The scientists said if development trends continue, within 30 years the caribou herd on the east side of the Athabasca River will be no more. ...

Government and industry have such a herd mentality.


Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from SolveClimate:
U.S. Climate Protests Shift to Blocking Keystone XL Pipeline Approval
Climate activists don't have much to rally around now that Congress is shunning global warming legislation. Energy legislation is stalled and stymied in a Senate where a Democratic caucus has a slim 53-47 advantage. And a GOP majority in the House is unveiling any and every tactic to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to deploy the Clean Air Act. McKibben and his allies figure the $7 billion Keystone XL -- which was barely on their environmental radar screen a year ago -- could be a galvanizer because the 1,702-mile underground pipeline would be a "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet." "If the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over," Hansen, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration climatologist, explained about reclaiming a stable climate. "The principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground."... "We don't expect or demand miracles out of politicians. That's not part of the contract," he continued. "But once in a while they get to make a straight-up decision and Keystone XL is one of those. This one is more like tee ball. It's sitting on the stand and Obama can choose to hit it or not."... "Twenty years of patiently explaining the climate crisis to our leaders hasn't worked," states the letter he co-authored. "Maybe moral witness will help." One prerequisite is that the demonstrators ditch Birkenstocks, torn jeans and tie-dyed T-shirts for button-down, business attire. "We need to be able to get across to people who the conservatives are and who the radicals are," McKibben said. "People need to understand how radical it is to change the composition of the atmosphere."... "It's incumbent on those who have spent our whole lives spewing carbon into the atmosphere to do something about it," McKibben concluded. "Most had interesting first acts in their lives that involved the civil rights and anti-war movements. That was before becoming preoccupied with other activities, mainly consuming things. ...

You're asking me to confirm that a ten-year or twenty-year time horizon is more important than a next-quarter horizon. How crazy is that?


Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from The Telegraph:
Warming oceans cause largest movement of marine species in two million years
Warming ocean waters are causing the largest movement of marine species seen on Earth in more than two million years, according to scientists. In the Arctic, melting sea ice during recent summers has allowed a passage to open up from the Pacific ocean into the North Atlantic, allowing plankton, fish and even whales to into the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific. The discovery has sparked fears delicate marine food webs could be unbalanced and lead to some species becoming extinct as competition for food between the native species and the invaders stretches resources.... The highly venomous Portuguese Man-of-War, which is normally found in subtropical waters, is also regularly been found in the northern Atlantic waters.... "In 1999 we discovered a species in the north west Atlantic that we hadn't seen before, but we know from surveys in the north Pacific that it is very abundant there. "This species died out in the Atlantic around 800,000 years ago due to glaciation that changed the conditions it needed to survive. "The implications are huge. The last time there was an incursion of species from the Pacific into the Atlantic was around two to three million years ago.... "Large numbers of species were introduced from the Pacific and made large numbers of local Atlantic species extinct. ...

I like to think of it as species homogenization.


Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from TomDispatch:
Michael Klare, The Energy Landscape of 2041
Let's see: today, it's a story about rising sea levels. Now, close your eyes, take a few seconds, and try to imagine what word or words could possibly go with such a story. Time's up, and if "faster," "far faster," "fastest," or "unprecedented" didn't come to mind, then the odds are that you're not actually living on planet Earth in the year 2011. Yes, a new study came out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that measures sea-level rise over the last 2,000 years and -- don't be shocked -- it's never risen faster than now. Earlier in the week, there was that report on the state of the oceans produced by a panel of leading marine scientists. Now, close your eyes and try again. Really, this should be easy. Just look at the previous paragraph and choose "unprecedented," and this time pair it with "loss of species comparable to the great mass extinctions of prehistory," or pick "far faster" (as in "the seas are degenerating far faster than anyone has predicted"), or for a change of pace, how about "more quickly" as in "more quickly than had been predicted" as the "world's oceans move into 'extinction' phase."... This will be a war because the future profitability, or even survival, of many of the world's most powerful and wealthy corporations will be at risk, and because every nation has a potentially life-or-death stake in the contest. For giant oil companies like BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell, an eventual shift away from petroleum will have massive economic consequences.... In the meantime, the struggle for energy resources is guaranteed to grow ever more intense for a simple reason: there is no way the existing energy system can satisfy the world's future requirements. It must be replaced or supplemented in a major way by a renewable alternative system or, forget Westphalia, the planet will be subject to environmental disaster of a sort hard to imagine today. ...

Surely we would have woken up to what we were doing by then and changed our entire way of doing things... wouldn't we?


Mon, Jun 27, 2011
from Washington Post:
Arctic sea ice headed for another major melt
According to one measure of sea ice coverage - average ice extent - the decline in ice cover appears to be occurring slightly faster so far this year than in June 2007, but it's not clear that it will wind up below the extent measured in September 2007.... "It is important to note for context that all 2011 estimates are well below the 1979-2007 September climatological mean of 6.7 million square kilometers."... "We do not know if Arctic change is responsible for record cold outbreaks in Europe the past two years or the heavy snowstorms along the U.S. East Coast. All we know right now is that the behavior fits the current theory." ...

Wasn't 2007's melt a once-in-a-century event?


Mon, Jun 27, 2011
from New Zealand Herald, thru DesdemonaDespair:
Insurance industry facing a climate of fear
For an industry whose survival means managing risk, these are challenging times. Nations which are focused on their economic problems have barely begun to contemplate how they will deal with the scientists' scenario of a warming planet. Yet insurers must calculate their exposure as our assumptions - that homes will be safe, food will be secure and infrastructure will work - are tested by ever more common "Hundred Year" weather disasters, a change that reinsurer Swiss Re calls the "new normal".... Trying to get a handle on this new normal means taking climate science very seriously. And the news is not good. Last month the International Energy Agency said carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose by a record 31 billion tonnes last year, making it more likely that the temperature rise this century would exceed 2C, unleashing runaway global warming and apocalyptic changes, including famine.... "Many of the risks posed by climate change will become uninsurable," predicts Mills. Insurance survives by identifying risks in advance. But climate change is a new ballgame, both in scale and weather volatility. Insurers could also risk losses from liability suits brought against customers who are blamed for fuelling climate change - a fossil fuel company, for example. ...

There are actuarial tables for an apocalypse?


Mon, Jun 27, 2011
from The Telegraph:
RSPB to destroy rats on Henderson Island
The RSPB will be destroying rodents introduced by humans on to Henderson Island, an uninhabited part of the UK's Pitcairn overseas territory, in a bid to save the endangered Henderson petrel which nests only on the island. Rats are eating 25,000 newly hatched Henderson petrel chicks each year on the World Heritage-listed island, driving the species towards extinction. The Henderson petrel is the most threatened of the four petrel species which nest on the island, as it is found nowhere else in the world, but all four have seen populations plummet as a result of the rats. The rodents, which were introduced by Polynesian settlers, eat 95 percent of chicks alive within the first week of hatching and the number of petrels has dropped from millions of pairs 800 years ago to an estimated 40,000 now, the RSPB said.... "People introduced the rats which are threatening the survival of the Henderson petrel and now we're trying to make amends before it's too late." ...

If we make all the amends that are due, who knows what may happen?


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Mon, Jun 27, 2011
from The ApocaDocs:
Pre-Apocalypse News & Info Quiz (PANIQuiz) for week ending June 26, 2011
From the PANIQuiz: 6. What government policy was announced that sacrificed short-term profits for long-term stability? (a.) Canada cast the final vote to finally ban international trade in asbestos. (b.) China announced the "Grandfather's Path" plan to stop supplying "cheap consumer crap" to the world, and only export "cheap solar panels" by 2013. (c.) The Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas was rejected as too much a threat to the Oglala aquifer. (d.) Tanzania scrapped plans to build an asphalt road through migration country. (e.) Implementation of the Toobin Tax, a microtax on financial transactions, to create a climate mitigation fund. ...

I'm liking that "Grandfather's Path" plan a lot!


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