“Does it fart?” is one of most frequent questions zoologists receive from kids, said Dani Rabaiotti of the Zoological Society of London. In fact, the whole #DoesItFart adventure started when her teenage brother asked if snakes ever experience flatulence. Rabaiotti knew from her own work that the wild dogs of Africa definitely fart, as do the extremely gassy seals that reside on the Atlantic island of South Georgia. But she wasn’t sure about snakes, so she consulted snake expert David Steen. [more inside]
Call it the Anthropocene, the MisAnthropocene (PDF), the Capitalcene, a Raven's Trick, a Charismatic Mega-Category, or the Chthulucene: Anthropologists are engaging with the new Epoch. [more inside]
With Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as one of the few people in the incipient Trump Cabinet who even acknowledges climate change, and Trump planning to shut down climate science, and building enemy lists of federal workers, California Governor Jerry Brown stands up at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union to proclaim that "truth will prevail". And promises a California space program if necessary. Video.
Earth warming to climate tipping point, warns study. Writing in the journal Nature, they project that an increase of 1C (1.8F) will release an additional 55 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere by 2050...previous assessments have not taken carbon released by soil into account. This could trigger a "positive feedback" and push the planet's climate system past the point of no-return. [more inside]
As the Arctic settles into polar night, scientists are noticing that something has gone horribly wrong. Sea ice levels in at the North Pole are at a record low—but even more startlingly, air temperatures are 36° F (20° C) higher than normal across the region. At the same time, north-central Asia is experiencing equally abnormal temperatures, but in the opposite direction. There’s a cold spell looming over Siberia.
A week since the post-truth 2016 US elections and Donald is attempting team selection with Reince Priebus becoming the Chief of Staff (Onion), while Steve Bannon is the Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor and Jeff Sessions could be the Attorney General. Election result analysis continues, including Barack's reaction, rural voters and insiders, as does consideration of the approaching 2018 mid-terms. Post-election, hate crimes have increased and a tally is being kept, while Black Lives Matter issues a statement. There are issues with fake news, and with vote counting in Arizona and Supreme Court control in North Carolina. Meanwhile, down ballot election results bring good news for liberals, Twitter does something, and voters swap media bubbles. Relevant events in the near future include the minority House elections, the Trump University litigation trial (maybe), the Louisiana Senate race runoff, the Electoral College vote and probable climate collapse. [more inside]
Recent climate studies predict that global temperatures could raise as much as 7C within our lifetimes, putting Earth on the fast track to a full Venus atmosphere.
Ars Technica: "UN report: climate goals rapidly moving out of reach." Paris Agreement made progress, but 2°C warming limit takes much more. [more inside]
The documentary 'Before the Flood' is free to stream on National Geographic's Youtube channel until November 6. It follows Leonardo DiCaprio as he interviews individuals from every facet of society in both developing and developed nations who provide unique, impassioned and pragmatic views on what must be done today and in the future to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet from climate change.
Frozen Dreams: Russia's Arctic obsession (16 min.) is a Financial Times video feature about Russian Federation preparations to take advantage of the Northern Sea Route opening up along its Arctic coast, which may at some point offer a preferable path for global shipping between the Atlantic region and East Asia, in comparison with the conventional route through the Mediterranean, Suez Canal, and Indian Ocean. [more inside]
With a global mean temperature rise of 1.5℃ (video, direct .mp4 link) the Marshall Islands, site of the US's Bikini Atoll nuclear weapons tests, may disappear completely. With most islands just six feet above sea level and less than a mile wide the ring of atolls is already severely affected by climate change. ⅓ of all Marshall Islanders are believed to live in the US, although they may face deportation. In recent months the residents of the Pacific island nation have been advised to cease eating fish after elevated levels of PCBs were found in the waters around the US missile base on Kwajalein Atoll. Recently, very previously, previously, previously, personal anecdotes.
Should the United States Save Tangier Island From Oblivion? (New York Times) "...she built the house in a place where the bay was steadily advancing on her backyard every year, usually by about a dozen feet."
Thirty Million (direct Vimeo link), a U.N.-funded half-hour film about the expected effects of climate change on the country of Bangladesh. Radio interview with one of the directors on Radio New Zealand. Bangladesh will lose 70% of its land area if there is a one-meter sea level rise, displacing thirty million people. [more inside]
Alaska is Having Its Hottest Year Since Records Began - "After a spring that was a full ten degrees hotter than normal, the northern state is on track for the most sweltering year on record." (via) [more inside]
Business of Disaster: Insurance firms profited 400 million after Sandy. An investigative report from Frontline and NPR. [more inside]
Anyone reading pundits and politicians pontificating profusely about climate or environmental science will, at some point, have come across the “volcano gambit”. During the discussion they will make a claim that volcanoes (or even a single volcano) produce many times more pollutant emissions than human activities. Often the factor is extremely precise to help give an illusion of science-iness and, remarkably, almost any pollutant can be referenced. This “volcano gambit” is an infallible sign that indicates the author is clueless about climate science.
Considering the constant fatalities, rampant pollution, and exorbitant costs of ownership, there is no better word to characterize the car’s dominance than insane. "The car is the star. That’s been true for well over a century—unrivaled staying power for an industrial-age, pistons-and-brute-force machine in an era so dominated by silicon and software. Cars conquered the daily culture of American life back when top hats and child labor were in vogue, and well ahead of such other innovations as radio, plastic, refrigerators, the electrical grid, and women’s suffrage. A big part of why they’ve stuck around is that they are the epitome of convenience." [more inside]
You're running out of time to see one of nature's most spectacular sites, writes Tom Philpott in Mother Jones. American Samoa is just one of the locations affected by a massive coral bleaching event. [more inside]
Fyfe, Meehl, England, Mann et al. (2016) Nature climate change article: A lot of ink has been spilt about global warming. A big and recent argument has been on the last 10-15 years and whether (or not) we have had a substantial reduction or change in the warming rate, sometimes called "the pause". A major development: some of the top IPCC authors (including Michael Mann) have just published a commentary suggesting it's real... [more inside]
Warming to an Idea: "The obvious problem was that you weren't asking this guy to change his mind. You were asking him to give up the somewhat lucrative profession on which he had based the last 20+ years of his life and you were asking him to admit he'd been a fool." [more inside]
By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster. - A historic deal has been struck in Paris to reduce carbon emissions and reduce global warming, with a ceiling of 2 degrees centigrade and a goal of 1.5C. 2015 has been the hottest year on record.
Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner is a poet and climate activist from the Marshall Islands. Recently, she performed her poem Tell them at a protest calling for fossil fuel divestment at the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference. Transcript on Democracy Now. [more inside]
Windyty is a very pretty way of visualising current and forecast weather data from around the globe.
25 years of climate talk history in one comic: Richard Monastersky & Nick Sousanis explore the history of climate treaty negotiations in Nature's special Paris Climate Talks issue. The goal of the Paris Talks is to limit emissions so that Earth won't warm by more than 2°C, and there are many reasons to be optimistic about the prospects for an agreement - but what will it really take to limit warming to 2°C??
The Paris-based magazine Télérama have published a conversation between Thom Yorke and author/activist George Monbiot. Yorke is a professed fan of Monbiot's writing, and throughout the interview, the two men discussed climate change.Throughout the conversation, Yorke and Monbiot discuss how they've responded to climate change in their day-to-day lives—becoming vegetarian, Radiohead's carbon neutral touring initiative, and so on. Yorke said that for a time, figuring out how to reduce his carbon footprint became an obsession.
You were taught in school that the rain forest is like the lungs of our planet.
It’s not that simple.
It’s not that simple.
The Leap Manifesto was recently launched by a range of Canadian intellectuals, celebrities, and organizations as an attempt to combat catastrophic climate change by convincing Canadians that business as usual is not the only way. [more inside]
"Every County in America Ranked by Natural Beauty" -- Christopher Ingram of the Washington Post presents an interactive map comparing the "natural amenities" of every county in the continental US, from a USDA study of "six measures of climate, topography, and water area that reflect environmental qualities most people prefer." [more inside]
The Weight of the World: Can Christiana Figueres persuade humanity to save itself? by Elizabeth Kolbert [New Yorker]
Of all the jobs in the world, Figueres’s may possess the very highest ratio of responsibility (preventing global collapse) to authority (practically none). The role entails convincing a hundred and ninety-five countries—many of which rely on selling fossil fuels for their national income and almost all of which depend on burning them for the bulk of their energy—that giving up such fuels is a good idea. When Figueres took over the Secretariat, in 2010, there were lots of people who thought the job so thankless that it ought to be abolished. This was in the aftermath of the fifteenth COP, held in Copenhagen, which had been expected to yield a historic agreement but ended in anger and recrimination.
The war on coal is not just political rhetoric, or a paranoid fantasy concocted by rapacious polluters. It’s real and it’s relentless. Over the past five years, it has killed a coal-fired power plant every 10 days. It has quietly transformed the U.S. electric grid and the global climate debate.
At the very top of oceans and inland waters lies a distinct micrometer-thick microbial habitat. It influences climate change, fosters unusual and deadly bacteria, and is made of jelly. It is the surface microlayer.
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.
If enough of us decide that climate change is a crisis worth of Marshall Plan levels of response, it will be. [more inside]
On the day before Danielle Smalley was to leave for college, she and her friend Jason Stone were hanging out in her family's mobile home. Seventeen years old, with long chestnut hair, Danielle began to feel nauseated. "Dad," she said, "we smell gas." It was 3:45 in the afternoon on August 24th, 1996, near Lively, Texas, some 50 miles southeast of Dallas. The Smalleys were too poor to own a telephone. So the teens jumped into her dad's 1964 Chevy pickup to alert the authorities. As they drove away, the truck stalled where the driveway crossed a dry creek bed. Danielle cranked the ignition, and a fireball engulfed the truck. "You see two children burned to death in front of you – you never forget that," Danielle's father, Danny, would later tell reporters. [more inside]
Australian comic artist Sam Wallman (previously) has released a scary/optimistic new piece that looks at Climate Change.
Neither Thucydides, Gibbon, von Ranke, nor Braudel ever cited a paper appearing in Geophysical Research Letters. They did not worry themselves about fluctuations in the Siberian High or the Southern Oscillation. The vast majority of more recent historians also remained untroubled by such concerns. However, in the past five years, a handful of highly distinguished historians have come out with new books that put climate at the center of historical explanation. What on Earth is going on? [more inside]
Vyacheslav Korotki is a man of extreme solitude. He is a trained polyarnik, a specialist in the polar north, a meteorologist.
Halfway through my three-week, 417-mile journey down the “most endangered” river in America, the water began flowing backward and the mud started talking. It spoke in baritone gurgles, like Barry White trapped in a bong. You know what this is, John? No, Barry White mud. This is QUICKSAND.
Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles. The decline of birds might have something to do with this recent news that half the insects (and spiders, crustaceans, slugs, worms) are gone.
It's Science Week in Australia and the crowdsourcing call has gone out for Weather Detectives to look through old ships' log books and track weather observations from the 1890s and 1900s. It's a good project for older kids, and aims to improve weather forecasting and track climate change. Do try this at home, kids.
"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]
Word association time: I say "peat", you say… "Scotland", right? Not necessarily! Peat is found around the world, including in many African countries. Earlier this year, scientists trekked through a Congo swamp, braving gorillas, elephants, crocodiles, and more. Their reward? Discovery of a peat bog the size of England. The team estimates that the bog covers between 100,000 and 200,000 square kilometers (40,000 to 80,000 sq miles), with the peat-layer reaching up to 7m (23ft) beneath the ground.
Building a plausible world: a step-by-step tutorial, from plate tectonics to trade winds. [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]
Harrison Harrison Ford, correspondent for Showtime's Years of Living Dangerously (previously), answered questions on Ask Me Anything (slreddit). You may also recognize Mr. Ford as Dr. Indiana Jones.