China's air pollution is now so bad it "resembles nuclear winter", say Chinese scientists. The pollution is impeding photosynthesis and potentially wreaking havoc on the country's food supply. [more inside]
Have you ever been in a room with lots of people and not great ventilation. Or even a room with normal ventilation. You may be cognitively impaired due to elevated levels of CO2 once considered safe now thought enough to make you a little dumb. 600ppm is now thought too much, but “there are plenty of buildings where you could easily see 2,500 ppm of CO2 — or close to it — even with ventilation designs that are fully compliant with current standards.. classrooms frequently exceed 1,000ppm." [more inside]
Although the past 12 years have seen the warmest 10 years on record, temperatures have remained fairly steady, even while CO2 emissions grew by nearly a third. Temperatures should have been increasing during this period, rather 1998 was tied with 2010 for hottest on record. Now a study suggests why (pdf): sulfur emissions from Asian coal plants (China mostly) are so high they mimic the effects of a volcano which can cause short term cooling by reflecting light back into space. Insidiously, the long-term warming caused by CO2 (coal) has been masked by short-term cooling of sulfur (coal).
The Warriors of Qiugang: A Chinese Village Fights Back, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). [more inside]
"The world’s oceans have been experiencing enormous blooms of jellyfish, apparently caused by overfishing, declining water quality, and rising sea temperatures. Now, scientists are trying to determine if these outbreaks could represent a “new normal” in which jellyfish increasingly supplant fish.. Total jelly domination would be like turning back the clock to the Precambrian world, more than 550 million years ago."
NASA has some new maps showing air pollution around the world. It shows PM2.5, that is, Particulate Matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size, small enough to get past normal bodily defenses and cause health problems. [more inside]
"I don't see any future for whale species except extinction." A report (pdf) released Thursday by Ocean Alliance noted high levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium in tissue samples taken by dart gun from nearly 1,000 whales over five years. Concentrations of chromium found in some whales was several times higher than the level required to kill healthy cells in a Petri dish. Mercury in some whales was 16 times higher than a typical shark or swordfish, both known for their high mercury levels. Beyond whales, "You could make a fairly tight argument to say that it is the single greatest health threat that has ever faced the human species."
Global Dimming. Records show that over the past 50 years the average amount of sunlight reaching the ground has gone down by almost 3% a decade. "It's an extraordinary thing that for some reason this hasn't penetrated even into the thinking of the people looking at global climate change. It's actually quite a big deal and I think you'll see a lot more people referring to it."