Posts filed under ‘The Environment, Weather, Etc.’
I wonder why the
Koch boys brothers — the richest human beings ever on the face of the Earth — are so full of hate instead of being grateful for their extraordinary luck in life:
This Affordable, Efficient Mass Transit Technology Is Now Illegal in Tennessee
Nashville was poised to become the proud owner of a new BRT line, called Amp. The concept has proved an overwhelming success in a number of cities abroad—Curitaba, Brazil, is maybe the most famous, but there are prominent lines in Argentina and South Korea, as well as right here in the states, in Kansas City and New York.
The mayor of Nashville had secured plans to create a $175 million BRT system to increase citizen mobility and help thwart congestion as the city’s population swelled. That might sound like a lot, but for a transit project in a major city, it’s a bargain, especially since BRT has repeatedly shown it stimulates economies and reduces pollution.
But even this relatively elegant city hack attracted the ire of powerful interests that find public transit distasteful. Spurred on by the Koch brothers’ influential political organization, Americans for Prosperity, Tennessee’s state legislature has just succeeded in passing an extraordinary new law that actually bans BRT.
Today, a high of 31º and this,
with a low of 21º tonight (good-bye tulips and daffodils).
Tomorrow: Sunny, clear and 45º. Tuesday: 60º.
It was 71º in Boulder today. I had brunch with a friend (h/t BG); I did some serious yard work (raking and weeding); I wore shorts and a T-shirt and I opened the windows and let the breeze blow through the house. It felt so good.
It’s a wonder anything grows around here anymore. The trees are in bud (this is our ash tree tonight),
but the buds will probably freeze and the tree won’t leaf out until June. That happened last year. Fingers crossed it’ll have the energy to do it again this year.
I remember last year (last May, to be more exact) when there was a huge alarm sounded amongst climate scientists when the carbon dioxide level, “passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported on Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years;” 400 parts per million.
It took millions of years to re-reach 400 parts per million (ppm). Yesterday, less than a year later, we hit 402 ppm:
The concentration of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that drives climate change, hit 402 parts per million this week — the highest level recorded in at least 800,000 years.
The recordings came from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, which marked another ominous milestone last May when the 400 ppm threshold was crossed for the first time in recorded history.
Man, we’re virtually speeding down the road to destruction.
Bad. Really bad:
Despite a few late-season storms this winter, the situation has played out much the same, with areas once again running major precipitation deficits and water levels at reservoirs around the state ranging from about 20 to 50 percent of capacity — troubling numbers at the tail end of the wet season.
“Heavy rain and snow would have to fall throughout California every day for the remainder of April to reach average annual rain and snowfall levels, which is highly unlikely,” the state government’s weekly drought briefing said. “Even with such precipitation, California would remain in drought conditions, due to low water supplies in reservoirs from the two previous dry years.”
Because although those reservoirs were created with drought years in mind, California’s booming population — which rose by 4 million people from 2000 to 2010, when it reached more than 37 million — has eaten into that buffer.
“So it’s just adding up here; every year they have less and less,” said David Miskus, a senior meteorologist with the Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
It’s likely we’ll all suffer because of this drought; I’m seeing articles about food prices going through the roof (as if they aren’t already through the roof).
Geezus Obama, you’re a huge disappointment:
Nine days after announcing new regulations designed to improve oil-by-rail safety, the Department of Transportation quietly weakened the rules for testing rail cars and exempted shippers of bitumen from having to meet the new regulations.
In a Feb. 25 press release, Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said all of the right things:
“Today we are raising the bar for shipping crude oil on behalf of the families and communities along rail lines nationwide —if you intend to move crude oil by rail, then you must test and classify the material appropriately.”
The industry quickly responded with a letter to Foxx letting him know that keeping families and communities safe might require them to shut down oil-by-rail shipping, which would “have an immediate and significant negative economic impact on the nation”.
Apparently this got Foxx’s attention. And the Department of Transportation did the industry’s bidding and relaxed the regulations. This time there was no press release or PR blitz touting the change.
I think this would commonly be known as blackmail.
Like I said, corporations are the government now.
I expected more of you Mr. Prez. I expected you to stand up to these tyrants who think only in terms of profits at any cost, including the lives of We the People.
Oh, and in looking for a photo to add to this post, I came across these inconvenient facts:
January 25, 2014: Accidents Surge as Oil Industry Takes the Train
But, according to the Obama administration: Oh well!
No, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke:
Proving that China’s fight against pollution has moved decisively into the realm of parody, bags containing mountain air were shipped into one particularly smog-addled city over the weekend.
No, it wasn’t a scene from Spaceballs. According to the organizer, a Henan-based travel company, 20 bright blue bags of air were shipped to Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan province, as a special treat for residents. The air originated from Laojun Mountain, some 120 miles away from the city, and was brought as part of a promotional gimmick to show oxygen-deprived city residents what they’re missing.
In its account of the event, the state-run China News Service said that some of the residents who lined up for the chance to inhale—they were limited to a few minutes each—tried to wring the bags in order to extract every bit of air possible.
“I felt my baby move right when I breathed in,” one pregnant woman who participated in the event told the agency.
China has a verrry serious air pollution problem. Check out this photo of Beijing taken on February 22:
Read more here.
Climate change is happening fast in the United States but state and federal governments are so dysfunctional they’re unable to respond. Chaos reigns. Central California’s San Joaquin Valley is an example. It’s referred to as America’s “bread basket” but it’s literally being sucked dry. And no, I’m not a drama queen blogger high on Cheetos:
When water doesn’t fall from the sky or flow from reservoirs, there’s only one place to find it: underground. So, three years into a devastating drought, thirsty Californians are draining the precious aquifer beneath the nation’s most productive farmland like never before, pitting neighbor against neighbor in a perverse race to the bottom.
The rush to drill is driven not just by historically dry conditions, but by a host of other factors that promote short-term consumption over long-term survival — new, more moisture-demanding crops; improved drilling technologies; and a surge of corporate investors seeking profits for agricultural ventures.
Now those forces are renewing an age-old problem of environmental degradation: Decades ago, overpumping sunk half of the entire San Joaquin Valley, in one area as much as 28 feet. Today new areas are subsiding, some almost a foot each year, damaging bridges and vital canals.
Yet in California, one of the few states that doesn’t regulate how much water can be pumped from underground, even this hasn’t been enough to create a consensus to stop.
“It’s our savings account, and we’re draining it,” said Phil Isenberg of the Public Policy Institute of California, a former Sacramento mayor and assemblyman. “At some point, there will be none left.”
I recommend reading the whole article. Growers are plowing hundreds of thousands of dollars into drilling wells and well drilling companies are booked 12 months out. Well permits have tripled this year over last, and this year is only three months old. What’s happening there is a not-so-slow-motion catastrophe the corporate media will talk about — and people will know about — when it’s too late.
I just saw a man identified as an “expert” interviewed on CNN about missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. (Erin Burnett’s show “OutFront” @ 7:28 p.m. ET) He said there are roughly “20 million tons” of trash in the Indian Ocean and that it — the Indian Ocean — is basically a “plastic soup.”
Way to go humans!
Maybe the disappearance of MH370 will have a silver lining in that the search educates people about how we’ve turned our oceans into trash cans.
(The “expert” wasn’t identified while I was watching. I’ll try to get more info and or/video.)
From Seattle’s King5.com:
The state of Washington is preparing to take the most aggressive action in four years against the U.S. Department of Energy for the federal government’s failure to adhere to waste laws and legally binding cleanup schedules at the Hanford ["nuclear reservation"] Site – a sign of state officials’ growing frustration with lack of progress in the decades-long nuclear waste cleanup.
On Friday, the state Department of Ecology ordered a new, faster timetable for pumping out a massive double-shell waste tank — designated AY-102 — that is slowly leaking highly radioactive waste. Next week, the state will communicate to the Department of Energy and the Department of Justice that the government is in violation of the 2010 consent decree governing the Hanford cleanup…
The order issued Friday deals specifically with AY-102, a massive waste tank that has been at the center of a year-long KING 5 investigation, Hanford’s Dirty Secrets. KING 5 exposed the government’s contractor in charge of the tanks, Washington River Protection Solutions, ignored scientific evidence for nearly a year that the tank was leaking.
The thing I find the most outrageous:
According to a plan released on March 7, the federal government said it would not begin pumping the leaking double-shell tank until 2016 at the earliest. State and federal waste laws require leaking tanks to be emptied within 24 hours or whatever is practical.
I guess we’re supposed to believe that, after ten or so years of this Hanford disaster going nowhere, 2016 is as fast as is “practical” to pump out that leaking tank.
The world is at growing risk of “abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes” because of a warming climate, America’s premier scientific society warned on Tuesday.
In a rare intervention into a policy debate, the American Association for the Advancement of Science [AASA] urged Americans to act swiftly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and lower the risks of leaving a climate catastrophe for future generations.
“As scientists, it is not our role to tell people what they should do,” the AAAS said in a new report, What we know.
“But we consider it our responsibility as professionals to ensure, to the best of our ability, that people understand what we know: human-caused climate change is happening, we face risks of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes, and responding now will lower the risks and costs of taking action.”
The United Nations’ climate science panel, the IPCC, will gather in Yokohama, Japan next week to release the second in a series of blockbuster reports, this time outlining how a changing climate is affecting rainfall and heat waves, sea level and the oceans, fisheries and food security.
But the AAAS scientists said they were releasing their own assessment ahead of time because they were concerned that Americans still failed to appreciate the gravity of climate change.
Here’s a website the AASA scientists set up — What We Know — to highlight the facts, answer questions and to generally talk about climate change.
(I predict a renewed campaign by wingnuts (on behalf of the Kochs, Exxon Mobil, et al.) about scientists being wackos.)
When I think of the words Norway and January I think of short days, a blanket of snow across the whole country and day after day of cold temperatures.
Not so this year:
Arctic Wildfires In Winter: Norway Experiences Freakish Historic Wildfires In January
[January 30, 2014] On Monday, a major wildfire erupted along the western coast of Norway near the city of Flatanger. The fire, fanned by winds ranging from 30-50 miles per hour and by a drought in which almost no precipitation has fallen since Christmas spread rapidly, rushing over the mountainous terrain to put both life and livelihood at risk.
As of Wednesday, the fire had exploded to the largest wildfire recorded in Norway since World War II. It had also consumed 139 homes as it raced down the rocky mountain sides of western Norway.
By late Wednesday, as firefighers struggled to bring the Flatanger fire under control, a second massive fire erupted on the island of Froya about 80 miles to the south and west. The fire exploded with such ferocity that 430 residents were forced to evacuate as flames and smoke rushed down along the hillsides. As of Thursday, the Froya fire still burned out of control, threatening to spur evacuations from other settlements in the path of the blaze.
Needless to say, it is not at all normal for Norway to experience wildfires of record intensity during winter time. A clear sign that climate change together with a mangled jet stream and extreme polar amplification are well in play to create dangerous and freakish conditions.
I guess we’d better get used to it.
You won’t hear about this in the corporate media because the corporate media has unilaterally decided to ignore We the People but an estimated 4,000 We the People demonstrated in Sacramento and surrounded the capitol building today urging Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking in the state:
My favorite sign? Keep the oil in the soil. Love it.
Here’s the article,
and here’s one of the astonishing photos. Amazing:
C A N C E R
Cancer Soon to Become #1 Killer in America
Here’s a depressing stat: Within the next 16 years, cancer will be the number one cause of death among Americans, according to a new report from the American Society for Clinical Oncologists (ASCO).
In their first report of its kind, ASCO dug into the prevalence of cancer in the U.S. and its projected rise, as well a number of pitfalls in our current medical system that will make treating all those cancer cases increasingly difficult. In fact, the report notes, the field of oncology is under such strain from skyrocketing medical costs and doctor shortages that the Institute of Medicine has called it “a system in crisis” in need of “urgent intervention.”
Why do we have “skyrocketing medical costs” and “doctor shortages?” I’m definitely not an expert on that but I would suggest unrestrained corporate greed might have something to do with “skyrocketing medical costs” and low wages and the high cost of a college education (not to mention medical school for crying out loud) might have something to do with it.
That said, due to the corporatocracy buying off the folks who are supposed to represent and protect We the Little People, we know there are chemicals in our soil, chemicals in our air, chemicals in our water, chemicals in our clothes, chemicals in our food, chemicals in our building materials and chemicals in our baby bottles. There’s no end to the list.
I’m 61 and I’ve been lucky. No cancer (other than some basal cell carcinoma on my nose from spending my teen years roasting in the sun). Living 61 years — factoring in climate change — might be a thing of the past for today’s little ones.
Oh, and remember when Dick Nixon (R) declared a “War on Cancer?“
We lost. Our tax dollars went to “defense spending.” Never mind that cancer has, and will, kill more of us than the boogeyman out there.
Wow, Brad Wieners, the Executive Editor of Bloomberg / BusinessWeek is out with an editorial urging President Obama not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
The first two paragraphs cut to the quick (though I could do without the part about Justin Beiber):
Give Me One Good Reason Obama Should Approve Keystone XL
Really, there could be two:
1. President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and economic growth-focused Washington want China as America’s new BFF and plan to let Beijing know by offering up an energy supply from our friends to the North.
2. Obama, Kerry, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper have worked out a quid pro quo. The Yanks will accept a pipe carrying toxic sludge through America’s bread basket so long as Canada takes over counterterrorism in Afghanistan, sends peacekeepers to Ukraine, and Harper himself places Justin Bieber under house arrest so he can’t tour in the lower 48.
Those are such short-term, short-sighted reasons to approve the pipeline. Just sad.
I think of viruses, individually anyway, as fairly delicate things. Not this guy (and there may be more where he came from):
Scientists in France have awoken a gigantic, ancient virus from its 30,000-year-long slumber in Siberian permafrost — and found that it’s ready to infect again.
“The revival of such an ancestral amoeba-infecting virus … suggests that the thawing of permafrost either from global warming or industrial exploitation of circumpolar regions might not be exempt from future threats to human or animal health,” scientists wrote in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Evolutionary biologists Jean-Michel Claverie and Chantal Abergel discovered Pithovirus sibericum under 100 feet of coastal tundra in the far northeast of Russia.
Pithovirus is the oldest virus to ever awaken from dormancy and remain infectious. It measures 1.5 micrometers long, about the size of a bacterium, making it the largest in a class of giant viruses that was discovered 10 years ago.
If a 30,000-year-old virus can maintain its infectious abilities, Clevarie wonders if other microbes are capable of revisiting humanity in devastating fashion.
Ten, 20, 30 years from now, when today’s little kids are entering the prime of their lives and climate change is out of control, life’s going to be a thrill a minute.
China’s air pollution problem is ah, an out of control problem. Here’s the view from the 72nd floor of a hotel in Beijing today via Joseph Weisenthal, Executive Editor of the Business Insider:
Don’t blow this off because it’s in China. There are no political or geographical boundaries when it comes to the atmosphere.
We’re expecting snow tonight here in the Boulder/Denver area so I’ve been checking the National Weather Service’s Boulder site for updates as to how much.
I saw this a few minutes ago:
And then I saw this stunning shot of of the storm moving over downtown Denver that the NWSBoulder retweeted at 4:23 p.m. MDT this afternoon.
Ah, yes, We the Little People who live near fracking wells and drink water contaminated by them should be so lucky as to have pockets lined with $1000 bills so we can afford to fight against having our environment trashed by, wait for it, Exxon!
For an example of hyper-elitism, NIMBYism, and the arrogance of the corporatocracy and the 1%ers, you’ve gotta read this:
This is one impressive storm front and one gorgeous satellite image:
From the Space, Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Real-Time U.S. Composite Satellite Image page. Larger version here.
I was born in 1952. I would love to see a video documenting Arctic ice loss starting then. I bet it would be even more shocking than this:
It isn’t about energy, it’s about money:
If you thought shale gas was a nightmare, you ain’t seen nothing yet. A subterranean world of previously ignored reserves is about to be opened up. These are the vast coal deposits that have proved unreachable by conventional mining, along with gas deposits around them. To the horror of anyone concerned about climate change, modern miners want to set fire to these deep coal seams and capture the gases this creates for industry and power generation. Some say this will provide energy security for generations to come. Others warn that it is a whole new way to fry the planet.
Some 300 metres beneath the plains east of Tashkent, Stalin’s engineers and their successors have been burning a seam of brown coal that can’t be mined conventionally. There are two well heads on the surface: one pumps air down to fan the flames while the other retrieves a million cubic metres of combustion gases a day. Scrubbed of coal dust, cooled and compressed on site, the gases are then sent down a pipeline that snakes across the countryside to a sprawling power station on the outskirts of the industrial town of Angren, where they are burned to generate electricity.
Without a way to capture all the carbon and store it out of harm’s way, it could raise the world’s temperature by 10 degrees or more. Is this burning desire for fossil fuel pushing us towards disaster?
The Folha de S Paulo newspaper reports water is being rationed for close to six million people living in 142 cities in 11 states.
The newspaper quoted water supply companies saying reservoirs, rivers and streams are the driest they’ve been in 20 years.
Some districts in the city of Itu in Sao Paulo state only receive water for 13 hours, once every three days.
Water consumption normally grows by up to 20% during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer. But this year, consumption has risen to 30% due to a prolonged heat wave affecting several states.
These are daffodils pushing up out of the ground in my yard — in February. Yes, in February. In Colorado.
While I was on my walk this morning a snow plow came by and pushed the snow into the street. Counter-intuitive I know but it works because the sun (we’re at 5,430 feet) will melt it in a matter of hours. Oh, and it’s supposed to be something like 61º today. (Sorry eastcoasters.)
I just got this tweet from “AtmosNews” on Twitter. “AtmosNews” is the combined Twitter feed of the National Center of Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), both located here in Boulder, Colorado.
If they’re tweeting out warnings — with warnings — from the National Weather Service/Atlanta that are this dire, the storm hitting the southeast as we speak is going to be very bad:
Be careful everyone!
The NCAR building was designed by I.M. Pei, an internationally renowned architect. It is very, very cool. As a matter of fact, I can see it from my desk where I’m typing. It’s the reddish building nestled at the base of the mountains just to the left of the peak of the white roof (my neighbors across the street) below:
Sheesh. You can hardly see it.
Here are some much better shots:
NCAR and UCAR were established by the National Science Foundation. They are the U.S. hub for the study of the atmosphere. If you’re ever in Boulder, I suggest a visit if you have any interest in, yes, science.
I’m loving this forecast for Boulder. It’s been cloudy, snowy and cold for weeks.
Great. Hang in there planet:
Firefighters battled a giant blaze fueled by 5,600 tons of rubber Saturday at the Port of Savannah, where a towering column of black smoke could be seen from miles away and prompted police to urge nearby hotels and college buildings to evacuate or keep people inside.
Firefighters were trying to contain and extinguish a fire raging inside a warehouse covering 226,000 square feet at the port’s Ocean Terminal just west of downtown Savannah. The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately known, but all port workers were accounted for and unharmed.
This is from NASA via NOAA. NASA! It goes back 650,000 years. Are they full of BS too?
This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution.