About once a year he has nightmares of earth becoming a very alien planet. "Part of being a scientist is you don't want to believe there is a problem you can't solve."
In the past few years, science has lurched closer to envisioning habitable Mars, though at the moment estimates for creating breathable oxygen range from hundreds to 100,000 years in the future, the soil is currently toxic to astronauts, and travel is so unwieldy that scientists have proposed "printing" humans on Mars. Meanwhile, I wondered why not make Earth's increasingly inhospitable deserts greener.[more inside]
Grist: Seattle: City Of The Future series includes -
Is Seattle a model for sustainable cities, or just a mess?
Is Seattle a model for sustainable cities, or just a mess?
In reality, of course, change is a complicated and messy thing. With that in mind, the crew at Grist decided a few months back to use our hometown as something of a laboratory. We abandoned our work stations and set off in search of stories that would illustrate how Seattle is changing, for better or worse, and how the city and its residents are coping. It was a chance to get to know the place better, put our theories and prognostications to the test, and see what lessons Seattle holds for other cities.[more inside]
But to a growing cadre of A-list winemakers, there’s actionable intelligence in the data. Many of Fruition’s clients are altering their irrigation techniques, turning laggard vineyards into top performers and using far less water than they ever imagined. Along the way they’re extracting lessons that could extend far beyond this rarified corner of agriculture. By gaining insight into the relationships between water, sunlight, yield, and taste, Fruition Sciences is showing the way for farmers of all stripes to increase productivity and quality in a world of shifting weather patterns and decreasing supplies of freshwater.
Tesla Powerwall Battery Economics: Almost There - "Elon Musk announced Tesla's home / business battery today. [video] tl;dr: It'll get enthusiastic early adopters to buy. The economics are almost there to make it cost effective for a wide market... That said, for large scale grid deployment (outside of the home), it still looks like flow batteries and advanced compressed air are likely to be far cheaper in the long run." [more inside]
The Chinchorro mummies are found in northern Chile and southern Peru; the oldest of them date to thousands of years before the first Egyptian mummies. Some of them mummified naturally, but most were intentionally mummified. The hot, arid conditions of the Atacama desert aided in this process. However, these mummies are now the latest victims of climate change, as increased humidity encourages bacterial growth that is transforming them into black ooze.
Comparing photographs of glaciers from the 1920's to today: Repeat photography is a technique in which a historical photograph and a modern photograph, both having the same field of view, are compared and contrasted to quantitatively and qualitatively determine their similarities and differences. The following sections depict how this technique was used at a number of locations in Alaska... to document and understand changes to glaciers and landscapes as a result of changing climate. [more inside]
Treading Water by Laura Parker [National Geographic]
Phil Stoddard, in his third term as mayor of South Miami, is one of the few politicians willing to talk about when that time might come... He drew a graph with three lines that show population, property values, and sea level all rising. Then abruptly, population growth and property values plummet. “Something is going to upset the applecart,” he says. “A hurricane, a flood, another foot of sea rise, the loss of freshwater. People are going to stop coming here and bail.”[more inside]
In the 21st century, it almost goes without saying the past year was the hottest year on record. But it's worth mentioning 2014 was the hottest ever recorded, according to NASA and NOAA who independently confirmed. Drum roll: it was the 38th consecutive year of above-average temperatures. 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000. Nobody born since 1976 has experienced a colder-than-average year on Earth. The coldest spot on Earth during 2014 (on average) was the eastern half of the United States. The hottest on average was most of Europe. British wine growers rejoice. [more inside]
Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, global warming denier, and (attempted) NASA funding slasher, has been appointed to chair the Senate subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. In other words, he will be overseeing NASA. [more inside]
Three visualizations of CO2 emissions: Here’s a cool way to visualize carbon emissions. New York's carbon emissions - in real time. NASA found a way to visualize the most important process behind global warming.
The Yamal Crater (previously) mysteriously appeared on the Yamal Peninsula in northern Siberia sometime in early 2014. Thought to be the result of methane accumulation in thawing permafrost, when first discovered the giant hole was too dangerous for people to enter. Now that the ground has frozen, scientists have explored the hole and released a a set of otherworldly photographs documenting their expedition.
All these grown-up monsters for my grown-up mind, they are there in the nights I wake up terrified and taunted by death. When I feel so small and broken, when despair and terror take me, I have a secret tool, a talisman against the night. I don’t use it too often so that it doesn’t lose its power.[more inside]
Disruption is a 52-minute film by 350.0rg as a promotion for the upcoming People's Climate March billed as the largest climate protest march in history, on September 21. Major cities include New York, Paris, Berlin, and Rio de Janeiro though there are over 1000 others. The march is calling for immediate action on the climate and is directed at the U.N. Climate Summit in New York City on September 23.(via)
All of California remains in drought with over 80% in worst categories of 'extreme' or 'exceptional' drought. Reservoir levels are 50% below average. (previously) [more inside]
"Novels are no use at all in days like these, for they deal with people and their relationships, with fathers and mothers and daughters or sons and lovers, etc., with souls, usually unhappy ones, and with society etc., as if the place for all these things were assured, the earth for all time earth, the sea level fixed for all time." [more inside]
The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States (PDF); prospectus (PDF); press coverage (YT) - "The signature effects of human-induced climate change—rising seas, increased damage from storm surge, more frequent bouts of extreme heat—all have specific, measurable impacts on our nation's current assets and ongoing economic activity. [The report] uses a standard risk-assessment approach to determine the range of potential consequences for each region of the U.S.—as well as for selected sectors of the economy—if we continue on our current path..." [more inside]
Warm water is eating away at the bases of West Antarctic glaciers in an irreversible runaway process: West Antarctic Glacier Loss Appears Unstoppable [the damn paper (paywalled)] [more inside]
This morning the U.S. government released the newest National Climate Assessment, which "concludes that the evidence of human-induced climate change continues to strengthen and that impacts are increasing across the country." You can explore the assessment here. Previously.
UN Climate Report: We Must Focus On 'Decarbonization', and It Won't Wreck the Economy - "The basic message is simple: We share a planet. Let's start acting like it." [more inside]
Years of Living Dangerously is a star-studded 9-part investigative documentary on the real impacts of global warming around the world. The first episode will air on April 13, but it is now freely available online (first link, 1-hour). Series backers and producers include James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Globe says it's "a lavish, gripping production focused on the real effect of climate change in real people’s lives around the world."
In the end, the only thing that could create the necessary traction in our minds was the intimate loss of the things we loved. Zadie Smith on climate change at a personal level.
Tiny Tim's stunning prophesy of global warming. You know, for the kiddies.
Joshua - a time-lapse tribute to the beauty of Joshua trees, native to southwestern U.S. Photographer Sungjin Ahn embarked on his project after learning that climate change could "eliminate Joshua trees from 90 percent of their current range in 60 to 90 years." via PetaPixel
Climatologist Michael E. Mann, known for introducing the famous "hockey stick" graph, has filed a defamation suit against the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. [more inside]
"In October 2013, Drs. Tim Perkins and Abby van Den Berg of the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center, revealed the findings of a study at a maple syrup conference in New Brunswick, Canada that sent waves through the industry. In 2010, they were studying vacuum systems in sap collection operations. Based on the observation that one of the mature trees in the study that was missing most of its top was still yielding high volumes of sap, they hypothesized that the maples were possibly drawing moisture from the soil and not the crown. Previously, they had presumed that the sap dripping from tap holes was coming from the upper portion of the tree. But, if the tree was missing most of its crown then, they surmised, it must be drawing moisture from the roots. ... They realized that their discovery meant sugarmakers could use saplings, densely planted in open fields, to harvest sap. In other words, it is possible that maple syrup could now be produced as a row crop like every other commercial crop in North America." [more inside]
Stuck in the Antarctic ice we set out to study - Erik van Sebille of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013 describes his fieldwork in Antarctica. The Guardian has extensive coverage of the expedition, including visiting the remains of a previous expedition, how they became icebound, and their rescue.
Climate Models: A calendar of "renowned climate scientists, their research, their favorite datasets, and memorable dates in weather and climate history."
"From a street-parked GhostFood truck, Simun and Songster and their team of trained staff will be serving a menu of three items, each of which conjures up a future dining experience for a food whose supply is currently threatened by climate change. " // "Its menu offers a curious collection of substitutes for potentially endangered foods: artificial recreations of chocolate, cod, and peanut butter." // "Pop one of the placebos--or “edible textural substitutes”--in your mouth and enjoy."
Tom Yulsman on the ignorant, misrepresentative and fictitious claims promulgated by some conservative journalists.
A new meta-analysis finds that extreme changes in temperature increase the likelihood of inter-group conflict. (SLA)
The iconic monarch of the North Woods is dying at an alarming rate. Is it climate change, a brain-piercing parasite, or is something else to blame?
"University of Minnesota undergrad Daniel Crawford did something very clever: He took surface air temperature data and converted them into musical notes, one for each year from 1880 to 2012, and played them on his cello." Direct Vimeo link.
The last decade (2001-2010) was the warmest on record. According to The UN World Metereological Organisation's report, the average land and ocean-surface temperature for 2001-2010 was estimated to be 14.47°C, or 0.47°C above the 1961-1990 global average and +0.21°C above the 1991-2000 global average (with a factor of uncertainty of ± 0.1°C).
The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees as many global leaders have hoped. [more inside]
Scripps Institute of Oceanography projects that next month its monitoring station will for the first time measure CO2 at 400 parts per million. Atmospheric CO2 has risen from 280 parts per million before the Industrial Revolution. 400 ppm is an arbitrary milestone that we'll blow right past on our way to 450 ppm within a few decades. This is an unprecedentedly fast rate of increase and it's getting faster. Not all measuring stations are exactly the same: A NOAA station in the Arctic measured CO2 at 400 ppm last year. [more inside]
When conservative pundits write about climate change, they're more likely to mention Al Gore than science.
The prospects of keeping climate change below that (2-degree goal) are fading away. Scientists track carbon pollution both by monitoring what comes out of factories and what winds up in the atmosphere. Both are rising at rates faster than worst-case scenarios that climate scientists used in their most recent international projections.
"A theory quickly emerged: that believers in climate science had been the main people taking Dr. Lewandowsky’s survey, but instead of answering honestly, had decided en masse to impersonate climate contrarians, giving the craziest possible answers so as to make the contrarians look like whack jobs. So, a paper about a tendency among this group to believe in conspiracy theories was met by … a conspiracy theory." - Unlocking the Conspiracy Mind-Set [more inside]
Melting Point Greenland has some sublime hi-def video of, well, Greenland melting. The summer 2012 melt was unprecedented, it alone rose global sea-levels by 1mm. The scientist-run blog Greenland Melting is following. Why Greenland's melting could be the biggest climate disaster of all.
How can we get CO2 out of the atmosphere? Get it out of the sea first. Making jet fuel from seawater is a pretty cool -- albeit energy intensive -- trick. But applying the same science to scrub CO2 out of seawater, where it is more densely concentrated than in the atmosphere -- and, by doing so, to reduce atmospheric levels of CO2 back to acceptable levels -- that's a game saver.
"what would it take to draw atmospheric carbon down to 350 ppm with just this technology? . . . we would require the power of about 700 AP-1000 nuclear reactors. At the Chinese cost of $1.3b apiece and an 80 year lifetime this would cost a bit over $1 trillion dollars. That sounds like a lot of money. But its only about the cost of America’s 2003 Iraq War spread over the century, so I guess it’s a question of priorities."