November 18th 2019

North Carolina: Rajesh Kaplieshwari - Local Action can impact our climate

image6

The recently restructured Office of Sustainability now oversees recycling and Keep W-S Beautiful programs. This allows the city to track recycling efforts and to support education campaigns to reduce high contamination of recycling by our overenthusiastic community. Local landfills continue to capture methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, and use it to generate power. Although burning methane for power is not ideal, it does reduce its release into our atmosphere.


City-sponsored, volunteer-driven events such as tree planting and cleanup of creeks and streets have made a difference. With more than 12,000 trees planted over two decades, Winston-Salem is now recognized as “Tree City, USA” for its excellent urban forestry management. Not only do trees reduce urban blight, provide shade to reduce heat-island effect and improve aesthetics, they also act as natural carbon sinks by absorbing CO2 from the air.

Venice flooding reveals a real hoax about climate change - Framing it as "Either /Or"

image7

 The mayor blamed climate change as did many other people around the world. That is when the hyperventilation started. 


As I listened to the mayor’s comments, two things came to mind. First, mayor Luigi Brugnaro  knows more about his city and its flooding tendencies than any of us sitting thousands of miles away. 

Second, I wasn’t listening with a bias so understood the point he was making

Climate Changes future of pain and disease isn't imminent, it's here already

image8

Changing weather patterns may also favor infectious pathogens, and affect their risk and distribution. A disheartening finding is that 2018 was the most  suitable year (in terms of the climate) for the spread of dengue,  malaria, and Vibrio bacterial species (which cause cholera, among other diseases). 


The changing climate means that there is an increased likelihood of outbreaks of diseases, like cholera, even in countries where the disease is not generally found. 


Here, children will once again be the most susceptible to a rise in infectious diseases.

Artificial Intelligence can help fight climate change

image9

Artificial intelligence could also assess damage after disasters. It could accelerate the process of scientific discovery by helping suggest new materials to use for batteries or carbon capture technology. It could also help improve efficiency in systems, such as consolidating freight, helping design carbon markets, or reducing food waste, he said.


Rolnick, who is a National Science Foundation Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, said artificial intelligence could also help with “precision agriculture.”

Climate Change is challenging Massachusetts oyster industry

image10

Ocean temperatures off New England have risen by an average 3 degrees since 1901, according to Climate Central, an organization of scientists and journalists documenting the effects of climate change. The coastal waters of New England have experienced the most significant warming around the nation, according to Climate Central.


“[These effects] act as stressors on our ocean and coastal environments resulting in dead zones, altered food webs and poor water quality,” said Claudia Mazur, a Ph.D. student at Fulweiler Lab.


“Warmer waters reduce the ability for our oceans to absorb CO2, increasing CO2 emissions which can further warm our atmosphere.” 

One of the main focuses of the Fulweiler Lab team’s research is how climate change affects ecosystems at both a local and global level.

Italy's white truffle hunters worry about climate change

image11

“I told him, ‘The day you take all the oaks, only you will drink your wine,’” Olivero said. “Because the truffle and the Barolo are two formidable components. It is a system that works on the table, but needs to go together first in nature.”


Unlike the more common black truffle, delicate white truffles cannot so far be cultivated, which makes preservation of their environment critical.


Incentives include a program paying 24 euros ($26) a year to property owners to maintain host trees they might otherwise remove. Truffle associations also strike agreements with absentee landowners to keep their wooded property cleared in a way that promotes truffle growth.

November 8th 2019

US to consider a genetically altered tree

image12

The researchers want the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assess an American chestnut tree with a gene from wheat that helps it tolerate cryphonectria parasitica, a fungus unwittingly imported to the United States over 100 years ago.

The blight decimated a towering tree species once dominant in forests from Maine to Georgia. Nuts from up to 4 billion trees fattened hogs, and its sturdy wood was used to build cabins. Yet by the time Nat King Cole crooned about “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” after World War II, trees were doomed by the blight. Surviving trees today are typically shrubs sprouting from old roots, yet to be infected.


Long-running efforts to breed American chestnut trees with the blight tolerance of Chinese chestnut trees are more complicated than once appreciated. That’s because the Chinese tree’s tolerance comes from a suite of genes, instead of one or two.


Powell and his research partner Charles Maynard began working on a complementary track decades ago at the request of the New York chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation. The added wheat gene enables trees to produce an enzyme that breaks down harmful acid released by the fungus.

the "ghost" genes of a nearly extinct wolf live on

image13

The results were even stranger than half-dog. The animals were hybrids all right, but they were part coyote and part red wolf—one of the most endangered and protected species in the world. “Our mouths dropped,” says a biologist at Michigan Tech who studies the species and collaborated with vonHoldt on the DNA study. 


Officially, there are as few as 14 red wolfs in the wild, all of which live on a refuge in North Carolina. 

Unofficially, it seems, their “ghost” genes live on in coyote-like hybrids that enjoy no formal protection. Brzeski and vonHoldt published their  study about the Galveston animals last year. Around the same time, a second-study found substantial red-wolf ancestry in animals in Louisiana, too.

Interior Proposes coveted deal to an ex-head

image14

Responding to questions, Interior spokeswoman Carol Danko said the handling of the Westlands’ contract was delegated entirely to California staffers of the Bureau of Reclamation, which is under the Department of Interior. 


The agency will make a final decision after the legally mandated public comment period, she said.

Conservation groups say Interior is moving forward on the deal without fully disclosing the financial terms and without new environmental reviews.


Doug Obegi, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Interior “is trying to give Westlands a sweetheart deal.”


Bernhardt’s past lobbying work — much of it for industries with business before Interior — has led environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers to accuse him of lack of transparency and the appearance of conflict of interest in his work at the agency.

Beaches: Trump administration makes it easier to Dredge protected areas for beach front homes

image15

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department, Melissa Brown, said in a statement that “There is absolutely no connection whatsoever” between the vote and the letter from Mr. Bernhardt. 

The communications director for Representative Van Drew, Mackenzie Lucas, wrote in an email, “These things have nothing to do with one another.” 


Noting that Representative Van Drew has long opposed impeachment, the spokesperson wrote, “it is absurd to think that the Congressman would trade his vote for some sand.”


In his news release this week, Representative Van Drew said Mr. Bernhardt’s decision “proves that we can still come together in a bipartisan fashion and seek common-sense solutions to improve the lives of Americans.”


Beyond the threat posed to protected coastal zones, critics said the policy shift would also encourage more property development in beach towns at risk of flooding, or even becoming uninhabitable in the long term, because of climate change. 

Why is Australia trying to shut down climate activism?

image16

The mingling of mining interests with national interests is perpetuated through a revolving door: lawmakers frequently work for the coal industry after leaving office. And for some, defending coal has come to be equated with defending the country. 


Even the opposition center-left Labor Party is hooked, pushing for emissions cuts while continuing to support more coal mining.


“They’re trying to play both sides,” said David Ritter, the chief executive of Greenpeace Australia. “They’re avoiding the work that’s necessary to create a clean energy economy.”

New Zealand commits to carbon neutrality by 2050

image17

New Zealand lawmakers approved a bill Thursday that commits the country to being carbon neutral by the year 2050. The measure, which  passed 119 votes to 1, demonstrates the cross-party support that climate protection has in the Pacific island nation.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern thanked lawmakers for supporting the bill and said she was grateful that in the past 10 years, Parliament had progressed from debating whether global warming is real to discussing what to do about it.


"We have to start moving beyond targets. We have to start moving beyond aspiration. We have to start moving beyond statements of hope and deliver signs of action. That is what this government is doing and proudly so," Ardern said Thursday. 


"We have made a choice that I am proud of, that will leave a legacy, and that I hope means the next generation will see that we in New Zealand were on the right side of history."

Site Content

Dairy Expansion Plan Nixed

image18

Daley Farms of Lewiston had been granted a permit to expand its milking operation from 1,500 to 3,000 cows, which would be considered a large operation in Minnesota.

Environmentalists argued the expansion would create more than 46 million gallons of manure each year, generating so much methane that it would become the 43rd-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the state.

Mideast Climate emisiones : Project Based in Cyprus

image19

The project will bring together top scientists from France, Germany, the Netherlands and three other countries to monitor greenhouse gas emissions with satellites and other technology.

Another goal is to raise public awareness about climate change in the Middle East, where opinion polls show the issue isn’t high on the public’s list of concerns. Experts predict the Middle East, a global climate change “hot spot,” will in three years produce more greenhouse gases than the 28-nation EU.

pumping oxygen to save fish

image20

Fish breathe oxygen out of the water, and the oxygen levels here can drop extremely low, especially in late summer. That coincides with the time juvenile suckers appear to just vanish from the lake.

When Terry learned that low oxygen levels were one of the suspected reasons the endangered suckers aren't surviving into adulthood, he had an idea.

"I thought, Why don't we do what they do in fish ponds or in your aquarium? Why don't we just try and bubble some air down in there and see what happens?" he says. "See if there's just a little boost to affect this one factor that might be a cause of their mortality."

“Silent storm” in phoenix

image21

More than 155 people died from heat-related causes in the Phoenix area last year, a new record in a place where the number of such deaths has been on the rise. Former Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton deemed it a public health crisis, and the city has launched an overhaul of how it prepares for and deals with extreme heat.

Trump administration

image22

Joel Jackson is President of the Organized Village of Kake, a remote village that depends on the wild food the Tongass provides. Historically, large-scale industrial logging damaged salmon streams.

"You know it's sad that we have to continue to fight our own government to protect our forests and streams," Jackson tells Alaska's Energy Desk.

He says the Organized Village of Kake is considering filing a lawsuit against the Forest Service. "We don't throw our hands up in the air," he says. "We just buckle down and start talking [about] what's the next step."

Haitians depend on the kindness of others

image23

"If these people didn't help, I didn't know what we were going to do," says LaFrance. "I just thank God for these people."

LaFrance is one of thousands of Haitians who lived in Abaco but were displaced to Nassau after the storm. The government's policy is to keep evacuees off Abaco until power, water and housing is restored.

Climate change

Extinction Rebellion: Are Doing Something!

image24

The group says its key demands for this protest are for the government to declare a climate and ecological emergency, halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2025 and to "create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens' Assembly on climate and ecological justice."

Climate Activates blocks roads...

image25

In Berlin on Monday, around 1,000 people blocked the Grosser Stern, a traffic circle in the middle of the German capital’s Tiergarten park dominated by the landmark Victory Column. That protest began before dawn. Another 300 people blocked Berlin’s central Potsdamer Platz, placing couches, tables, chairs and flowerpots on the road.

Minnesota legislature considers "Clean Energy Act"

image26

Sen. David Senjem, a Rochester Republican who sponsored a Senate version of Clean Energy First, said his bill would help make Minnesota a “national leader” in driving clean energy production and innovation. “We know it’s the future,” Senjem said of clean power. “We know it’s literally the cheapest option and we know politically and attitudinally, people prefer clean energy over dirty energy.”

Soaring eagle films crumbling Alpine glaciers as Earth warms

image27

“Humanity has two dreams: to swim with dolphins and fly with eagles,” French falconer and Freedom Conservation founder Jacques-Olivier Travers said. “This is the first time that we’ll really ride on an eagle’s back over such distances and such vistas, and see how he flies.”


“How can you convince people to protect the birds and their environment if you never show them what the birds see?” he added.

Hawaii Study...

image28

The study is intended to prioritize areas in need of protection from coastal erosion. The modeling and analysis assist the transportation department with a strategy to maintain connectivity of current roadways, said Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen.


The university report recommends actions such as relocating, elevating or hardening that will be analyzed by the department and presented to community members. Transportation officials anticipate a timeline for analysis of about two years, Sniffen said.

Air Quality App in Vietnam

image29

Air pollution in Hanoi and other major cities in Vietnam has hit its worst-ever levels, with the government’s Environment Administration last week warning people to limit outdoor activities. 


Pollution could become a key political issue in the Southeast Asian country, where protests have been held against the degradation of the environment. 

Climate Change: Powerful Speech

image30

Jason Momoa said “The oceans are in a state of emergency”, he warned. “Entire marine ecosystems are vanishing with the warming of the seas, and as the waste of our world empties into our waters, we face the devastating crisis of plastic pollution.

“We are a disease that is infecting our planet.”

Pilot Whales

image31

Whales are highly social and travel in pods.


"They are highly cohesive animals, and when one is sick or ill, others may stay close by, even if it means coming to shore and becoming sick, debilitated or stranded themselves," the state DNR says.

Earths Oceans and Ice

image32

The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) presents the latest evidence of climate change that is already underway and is an urgent wake-up call "telling us that we're on thin ice and running out of time to act," said Bruce Stein, chief scientist for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Climate: The State of ...

image33

The northern New England states are home to thousands of moose, but the herd has dwindled in the last decade, in part because of the winter ticks.

The State of the Earth

image34

A great source of articles by ScienceDaily.

Environment

image35

Public opinion on these critical, complex and controversial issues? As is often the case with Americans' views on important and highly visible topics, the picture is quite complex, although I think the data show strong public agreement on several environmental specifics.