Voracious Carbon Eating Microorganisms


Ponder hungry microorganisms lurking within the Arctic tundra. Vast regions of permafrost – defined as permanently frozen layers of rock, soil and sediment – now thawing at alarming rates due to increased global temperatures. I’m not talking the thin “active” top layer of permafrost covering 24% of Northern Hemisphere land – ponder deep layers of ancient glaciated tundra surrendering to the elements.

Boreholes in northern Canada, Norway and Russia indicate a .4 degree increase in ground temperatures at a depth of 60 meters. It might sound like no big deal – let me assure you otherwise. In the last decade it translates to an increase greater than the last 100 years. So why worry about mushy tundra?

Trapped in that permafrost are enormous amounts of formerly frozen ancient carbon. As the ground warms, billions of voracious microorganisms belly up to the all you can eat buffet. Devouring carbon releases vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere – CO2 that contributes to accelerated global warming.

Robert Spencer from the University of Florida, lead researcher of a paper published April 23, 2015 in Geophysical Research Letters said –

“When you have a huge frozen store of carbon and it‚Äôs thawing, we have some big questions. The primary question is when it thaws, what happens to it? Our research shows this ancient carbon is rapidly utilized by microbes and transferred to the atmosphere, leading to further warming in the region and therefore more thawing. So we get into a runaway effect.”

http://earthsky.org/earth/carbon-from-melting-permafrost-goes-back-to-atmosphere?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=1ac6825dd9-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-1ac6825dd9-393970565

http://icestories.exploratorium.edu/dispatches/big-ideas/tundra-and-permafrost/

While the climate denial camp busily pats itself on the back for convincing the masses we have nothing to worry about – stop and ask yourself why people gobble their self serving propaganda hook, line and sinker.

Survey: WeatherCasters Coming Around on Climate Change


Had to do it ūüôā Be sure to watch the second clip of Pippa the “Weather-girl” going rogue.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week

One of the frustrations for climate communicators over the years has been the unwillingness of TV weathercasters to come to grips with climate change.  That’s a big deal, because for a large majority of citizens, the weather guy or gal is the closest thing they ever see to an actual atmospheric scientist.
Most of them are not meteorologists, but rather communication specialists with (maybe) some met 101 courses in their transcript. Many are employed by extremely conservative media organizations, and are loathe to be seen as promoting a ‚Äúliberal agenda‚ÄĚ (science!).

For several years, there have been ongoing efforts by a number of top flight scientists and communicators to reach out and answer questions for this group.  It may be that these efforts, and the accelerated pounding by Mother Nature, are having an effect.

A new survey offers a glimmer of hope.

Below, Pippa the Weather Girl goes Rogue!

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When in Drought, Find a Beaver


Pondering climate change, dire predictions of continued regional global drought and dwindling wetlands brought me back to the humble Beaver.

notestoponder

I learned something interesting about the Beaver of all things. Once the backbone of  Canadian fur trading, this rather large rodent may adorn our nickel, yet is considered nothing more than a nuisance. Their fur of little value in a world  of synthetic fabric draped political correctness,  the Beaver  inhabit a realm known as pest. In parts of Canada like Porcupine Plains, Saskatchewan they even have a bounty on their seemingly worthless hides.

Not so fast people. According to David Suzuki they could be the most important animal on our planet. It seems their relentless dam building serves a special purpose. By creating ponds, they trap water destined to evaporate from small streams. By building dams they make deep ponds out of trickles the summer sun would have turned to dry creek beds.

Dr Glynnis Hood studied the impact of beavers on water levels in a given landscape. Elk Island…

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Senate Snowball


You’ve gotta love American politics, only in America would the head of the Environment and Public Works Committee saunter onto the Senate floor with snowball in hand. James Inhofe, Republican Senator from Oklahoma, chairman manning the helm of environmental issues, had a point to make. This wasn’t just any snowball, it was proof God existed and climate change was a hoax.

“God is still up there, and He promised to maintain the seasons and that cold and heat would never cease as long as the earth remains.”

“The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous,” he said.

Inhofe isn’t content with jurisdiction over environment – he published a book titled The Greatest Hoax, urging readers to ignore science (dubbed alarmists) because a greater “Authority” has already spoken.

Over the past few days I’ve been called “eco-tard” “nuts to ponder” “ignorant clown” “climate fetishist” “moronic liberal” “parroting lies of liars” – and those are just the nice names. More than one of these people supported venom with links to The Greatest Hoax.

All I can say is “good luck America” and have a nice day.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/06/jim-inhofe-genesis_n_6815270.html

 

Saving Ozone


Today is an environmental landmark – on January 23, 1972 Sweden became the first country to ban aerosol sprays. Reacting to scientific concerns chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) damaged the ozone layer, Sweden’s swift action set the stage for a world-wide ban.

Visionary Swedes abolished CFCs before science discovered the Antarctic ozone hole – ponder decisive environmental action based solely on reputable concern. Spared decades of irreparable damage at the hands of anti-ozone propaganda machines – Sweden stepped up in the interest of us all. America followed in October of 1978.¬† On January 1, 1989 the Montreal Protocol took effect. Officially the “Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer” – a global treaty signed by almost every nation, effectively abolished use of CFCs.

Did it work? The answer is a cautious slowly but surely. Since the mid 90s, Antarctic ozone holes have “stabilized” – that in itself an environmental victory. Optimistic science predicts recovery by 2050-2070.

This is where I get worked up – switching from CFCs to other propellents or pump action dispensers might have been mildly inconvenient, yet hardly broke the bank or put vast numbers of corporate interests in financial jeopardy.¬† The world played nice, behaving responsibly because alternatives didn’t bankrupt the bottom line. We took science at its word – our ozone was in danger, anything less than responsible action became out of the question.

Harmful carbon dioxide levels are an entirely different matter. Look no further than the failed Kyoto Accord – a global treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, systematically dropped by worst offending powerhouse nations. China and the U.S. – awarded dubious distinction of first and second worst offenders, with 27% and 14% of global greenhouse gas production, can’t even be bothered to go through the motions. Neither country participates in 2001 talks to adopt the protocol. A statement released by America’s Environmental Protection Agency states, “the Bush administration has no interest in implementing the Kyoto Protocol”.

Protecting ozone passed with nary a whimper – everyone’s on board when environmental salvation doesn’t rattle big business, irrefutable science was good enough for ozone.¬† Dare¬† apply logic to greenhouse gas and climate change – suddenly science is ruled by nincompoops.

Ponder climate change denial – ask yourself who stands to lose, and who spends exorbitant amounts of money on denying the obvious.

http://earthsky.org/earth/this-date-in-science-sweden-goes-first-to-ban-aerosol-sprays?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=3c6cfe3904-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-3c6cfe3904-393970565

Climate Change and The Taliban


What does climate change mean,  how do people define global warming? Do we think of melting ice caps in terms of rising ocean levels, threatened animal habitats, violent unpredictable weather? Do we think about it at all? Are we confused by anti warming propaganda, suspicious of scientific proof? How many ponder a connection between climate change and the Taliban?

Founded in 1994 by Mohammed Omar, iron fist Taliban fundamentalism seized control of Afghanistan in 1996. Brutal Taliban justice, horrific oppression of women, terrorist agendas, outraged the global community long before 9/11. One of the first Taliban edicts – eradicate all opium poppy fields as an offense to Islam. From 1996 to the American ousting of Taliban rule in 2001, Afghan farmers who once supplied of 60% of world heroin, grew wheat crops.

Unfortunately 2001 coincided with a period of unprecedented drought in Afghanistan. Devastated farmers had families to feed – the Taliban needed money, soldiers and safe havens. Fragmented Taliban forces came up with a solution. In exchange for “taxes”, recruits and absolute indifference to caching weapons or hiding insurgents, they would protect impoverished farmers choice of crops. Opium poppies thrive on 1/6th the water of wheat.¬† Drought resistant poppies sustained a population whose only choice became Taliban loyalty or starvation.

Far from suggesting Afghanistan’s untimely drought was a direct result of climate change – it’s worth considering implications beyond rising sea levels. Religious fundamentalists outlawed opium poppies when rain fell, weaponized poppies by allowing starving farmers to plant them in exchange for loyalty.

Ponder climate change as a weapon. Consider ramifications of weaponizing crops We can ignore mind numbing climate change rhetoric, or wrap our heads around drought and Taliban support.

 

Greenpeace Crosses the Line


Ponder environmental activism – Greenpeace likely comes to mind. Nobody argues Greenpeace took shape during the late 60’s, early 70’s in Vancouver B.C. Nobody argues Greenpeace activism wasn’t warranted or justified. I doubt many people could find fault with the intent or sincerity of Greenpeace. Born in an era of conflict, Greenpeace had the courage to stand for something.

http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/ships/the-rainbow-warrior/20th-anniversary/timeline-of-events/

On December 1, diplomats from 195 nations gathered in Lima Peru for a conference on climate, their intention – draft a new accord to “curb” global warming. Organized by the United Nations, COP 20 (coalition of parties meeting on climate for the 20th time since 1992) Lima hopes to lay foundations for Paris conferences a year from now – Paris 2015 aims to formalize COP 20 recommendations – sewing up a resolution to replace the Kyoto Protocol that expired in 2012. Perhaps with China and America on board (neither country signed the Kyoto Protocol – hardly surprising when you consider they rank first and second in greenhouse gas emissions).

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/11/141130-lima-climate-change-conference-un-cop-20-science/

Enter Greenpeace. Never shy, rarely at a loss when it comes to making a statement – Greenpeace decided to desecrate a World Heritage Site. Oh man, I would have loved to be at that strategy session. “Lets sneak onto a high desert plateau in Peru and place a message about renewable energy in giant plastic letters next to the Nazca Lines”. Never mind the importance or delicate nature of Nazca’s historical treasure – our message will be seen from space. Holy crap Greenpeace, you crossed a line.

Greenpeace needs a reality check, at the very least a little soul searching. When you find yourself trashing world heritage sites, traipsing your way across precious remnants of ancient pasts to erect PLASTIC signage about renewable energy – get a grip, you crossed the line.

Far from impressed, the Peruvian government stated “It’s a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred”. From the Huffington Post….

The Greenpeace activists entered a “strictly prohibited” area near the famed figure of a hummingbird, according to the Associated Press. Entrance to this area is permitted only with authorization, and those who get approval must wear special footwear.

“They are absolutely fragile,” the minister said of the geoglyphs. “They are black rocks on a white background. You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years. And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognized of all.”

Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International issued a public apology, in part…

“The action took place on the occasion of the climate conference in Lima, where government leaders have a historic opportunity to tackle the effects of climate change. Unfortunately, this important message has been overshadowed by our rude and inconsiderate action.”

Full Greenpeace statement linked below..

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/Nazca-Timeline/

 

 

Picture of Greenpeace activists next to massive letters near to the hummingbird geoglyph in Nazca in Peru

Greenpeace activists arrange the letters delivering the message "Time for Change: The Future is Renewable" next to the hummingbird geoglyph in Nazca, Peru, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.

Canadian Hydrogen Fuel Cell First


Climate change, global warming, environmental devastation, fracking, burst tailing ponds, tar sands, pipelines, oil tankers, liquified natural gas, carbon credits, renewable energy sources – hot topics plagued by fervently distributed information, misinformation, propaganda, protest, and uncertainty.

For days now, local Vancouver news broadcasts have opened with updates on environmental protests against Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion – a project committed to tripling crude oil moving from Alberta’s tar sands to tankers in Burnaby – a suburb of Vancouver. Despite a court injunction obtained last Thursday allowing surveyors to drill bore holes deep beneath a conservation area on Burnaby Mountain – every day scores of concerned citizens peacefully cross police tape, knowing they’ll be “carried” to waiting paddy wagons. Tonight’s news highlight reported the arrest of a 87 year old woman – it’s been several days since accurate numbers of arrested individuals was reported as anything other than “well over 100″.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/kinder-morgan-s-survey-shows-burnaby-mountain-stable-enough-for-pipeline-1.2851321

Immediately following KM protest coverage, a story broke warming corners of my tired oil sands heart. Hyundai made Vancouver the first Canadian city privy to their Tuscon Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle.

Not to be confused with Electric Vehicles that run on electrically charged  batteries, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles generate their own electricity. Hydrogen fuel cells basically separate hydrogen atoms into positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons. Electricity happens when uninterrupted electrons are free to flow continuously Рvoila, your motor is running. Meanwhile the positively charged protons bonds with oxygen atoms, creating heat which escapes as steamy water vapor.

Critics are quick to trot out energy cancelling arguments such as ” energy needed to manufacture hydrogen fuel cells negate benefits of zero carbon omissions” – I don’t care. Scores of these very same dullards claimed a few years ago hydrogen fuel cells wouldn’t work in extreme hot or cold climates – absolutely not true.

Undaunted by the fact only one “refueling” station exists in Canada (Surrey B.C.) I prefer to be buoyed by the effort of marketing renewable energy vehicles. Hyundai is taking applications from people interested in a 3 year lease at $599 a month including free “charging” (required every 400 Km. or so, and taking about 5 minutes). The first computers, cell phones, flat screen televisions – how long did it take before demand made them affordable? Take that big oil.

http://globalnews.ca/news/1693727/first-hydrogen-fuel-cell-vehicles-in-canada-to-be-offered-in-vancouver/