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US Cities Face “Moment Of Reckoning” As China Halts Trash Imports

US Cities Face “Moment Of Reckoning” As China Halts Trash Imports

In the Trump era, the American garbage business is changing in ways that Tony Soprano never could have anticipated. And it’s creating serious problems for American cities, who might soon find themselves with nowhere to turn to export their trash and recyclables (most of which have almost no value above rubbish due to contamination, and are typically disposed of in the same fashion).

And while an unrelenting river of garbage with nowhere to go might be a mafioso’s dream, small towns like Chester City, PA., a small town in Delaware County that is best known as Philly’s waste pit, is demanding that something be done since China’s sleeper ban on recycling imports – which arose from Beijing’s desire “not to be the world’s landfill” – has led to a host of new deadly contaminants polluting the impoverished town’s air as its incinerators now burn more of the plastics that China will no longer accept.

As we explained last year, since 1992, China and Hong Kong have taken in approximately 72% of global plastic waste according to a study in the journal Science Advances. However, since January 2018, Beijing stopped accepting most paper and plastic waste in accordance with new environmental policies.

Garbage

What they do still accept: cardboard and metal, now has an extremely low contamination threshold of just 0.5% – a level far too low for current US recycling technology to handle. Where China used to take 40% of the US’s paper plastics and other trash, that trade has now ground to a halt.

It is “virtually impossible to meet the stringent contamination standards established in China”, according to a spokeswoman for the Philly city government. Because of this, the city’s garbage problem has become a “major impact on the city’s budget”, at around $78 a ton. Now, half of the city’s recycling is going to the Covanta plant.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Climate change stokes mayhem in several ways

Climate change stokes mayhem in several ways

Syria: Glimpse of the future as rapid climate change continues? Image: By Ahmed Abu Hameeda on Unsplash

Three outcomes could follow if climate change stokes mayhem, conflict and violence. It might be helpful to think about the strains to come.

LONDON, 22 February, 2019 − Stand by for long hot summers marked by riot and racial tension. As climate change stokes mayhem, global warming is likely to see a direct rise in human irritability.

Climate change accompanied by natural disaster such as flood or drought could lead to harvest failure and food and water shortages for which people must compete.

And the same natural disasters could lead to a generation of babies, children and adolescents more likely, because of disadvantage and deprivation, to become more prone to violence in adulthood.

Researchers in the US have been thinking carefully about the links between climate change and conflict. This, they write in Current Climate Change Reports, has a long history, and a huge range of studies have addressed the hazard.

And they see more civic strife and conflict on the way. Some of it is likely to involve climate refugees, or ecological migrants: persons driven from their homes by climate change. The steady rise in global temperatures could also help incubate the conditions for global terrorism.

“Syria offers us a glimpse of what the future might look like as the climate continues to change rapidly”

“This is a global issue with very serious consequences. We need to plan for ways to reduce the negative consequences,” said Craig Anderson, a psychologist at Iowa State University in the US.

“An inadequate food supply and economic disparity make it difficult to raise healthy and productive citizens, which is one way to reduce long-term violence. We also need to plan for and devote resources to aid eco-migrants in their relocation to new lands and countries.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Seneca Cliff According to H.P. Lovecraft

The Seneca Cliff According to H.P. Lovecraft

It is strange how sometimes fiction manages to catch human feelings and ideas in ways that are not easy to articulate in terms of facts and models. H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) has been one of the world masters of the horror genre, managing to flesh out some of our deep fears.

We can read Lovecraft’s story “The Doom that Came to Sarnath” as an allegory of our times. The prosperous and shiny city of Sarnath had a dark origin, the violence against the previous inhabitants of the region. And the whole drama unfolds with all the characters mentioned in the story aware that they’ll have to face some kind of retribution for what they did and, yet, refusing to admit it. And the retribution came to Sarnath in a form not unlike what the Roman philosopher Lucius Seneca had noted when he said that “growth is sluggish, but the way to ruin is rapid,” the Seneca Cliff.

In our case, we know what we did to the Earth’s ecosystem. We know about the greenhouse gases, we know about the slaughter of other species, we know about the pillaging of the Earth’s resources. We know all that but, like the inhabitants of Sarnath, we refuse to admit it. What kind of retribution can we expect in the future?

It is curious how the knowledge of the horror we did to our planet takes the shape of the tales of the horror genre. It is something modern, the ancient just didn’t have it. Think of Dante Alighieri: his Comedy is all about ghosts, but there is no horror anywhere in modern terms. Think of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, there is a ghost, a skeleton, a dark castle, but no horror elements. Why?

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Yellowstone Supervolcano Eruption Fears SPIKE As Geysers Become More Active

Yellowstone Supervolcano Eruption Fears SPIKE As Geysers Become More Active

Some of Yellowstone’s geysers have been more active lately reigniting fears that the massive supervolcano will erupt. The sudden bursts of steaming hot water highlight the dramatic nature of Yellowstone while reminding us we are all at the caldera’s mercy.

While average people seemed concerned, geologists seemed excited and thrilled when Yellowstone’s steamboat geyser began erupting again in 2018. It has been erupting as often as once a week since last March, according to National Geographic, and scientists continue to say the volatile activity is not a sign of an imminent eruption.  The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory reported that Steamboat has now set a record by erupting a whopping 32 times in 2018, a personal best for the geyser for a single calendar year.  It’s the world’s tallest active geyser, and at the best of times, it can shoot hot water 300 feet into the air. However, it isn’t just the Steamboat Geyser that has been concerning people.

Ear Spring Geyser, for example, has been almost since 1957, but it erupted spectacularly a few months back and sprayed human garbage from the 1930s all over the national park. But scientists insist this doesn’t mean an eruption is pending. “It’s a good lesson in how geysers actually work,” said Michael Poland, the scientist-in-charge at Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. “As soon as you start to recognize a pattern [in a geyser’s eruption], it changes.”

“As [far as] geysers go, Steamboat is sort of typical in terms of having these sporadic, unpredictable eruptions,” Poland notes. “But because it’s this really tall geyser and it has this name recognition, it makes it that much more interesting.” But again, it’s not just Steamboat Geyser that has people concerned.  “But back in 2007 to 2008, Giant [geyser] went bananas,” Poland says. “It erupted many, many more times than it had in the past year—and Steamboat didn’t do anything of the sort.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Our Food Is Killing the Planet — But It Doesn’t Have To

Our Food Is Killing the Planet — But It Doesn’t Have To

A new book asks, “Can we feed the world without destroying it?” The answers might surprise you.

The world needs to change the way it eats, not just as individuals but as a society.

That’s the message from a groundbreaking report issued last month by the EAT-Lancet Commission, which made a series of societal recommendations to help the world’s ever-increasing human population ensure its food security in the face of global warming.

The recommendations are all designed to accommodate a planet that is projected to contain 10 billion people by the year 2050. They include switching to a diet that’s low in meat and sugar but higher in whole grains, fruits and vegetables; cutting food waste; reducing fossil fuel use and emissions; and incentivizing small and medium farming.

The changes, the report said, would lead to a healthier planet and healthier people, while also helping the more than 820 million people currently suffering from chronic hunger.

Coincidentally, the report came out the same week as a challenging new book that makes many of the same recommendations, while also presenting some contrasting and complementary ideas.

According to Can We Feed the World Without Destroying It?, written by food activist Eric Holt-Giménez and published by Polity Press, we already produce more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet, and we’re gearing up to grow even more to accommodate the projected increase in human population.

All that food comes with multiple costs, including climate change, drought, water contamination, habitat loss and species extinctions — which themselves put the very future of food at risk. Holt- Giménez writes, “our greenhouse-gas-spewing industrial food system has entered a dangerous negative feedback loop. The way we produce and consume food is undermining our ability to produce food at all.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Which species are we sure we can survive without?” Revisited

“Which species are we sure we can survive without?” Revisited

Two years ago I asked the question in the title of this piece. Now comes a wide-ranging study that suggests we are about to test that question in a major way.

The study predicts that at the current rate of loss of insect species, 40 percent could be gone “in the next few decades.” What is particularly alarming is that this “could trigger wide-ranging cascading effects within several of the world’s ecosystems.” That means that many other life-forms including other animals and plants could find themselves without what they need to survive in this dangerous game of musical chairs orchestrated by humans. Might we be one of those species?

Insects do much of the crop pollination necessary for food production. A list of crops pollinated by bees is quite long. Humans could survive without these foods, but the nutrition and variety in our diets would be severely limited. And yet there is a greater problem. Outside of agriculture 80 to 95 percent of plant species require animal pollination. Since those plants are the base of every food chain, catastrophic declines in insect populations could lead to a collapse of existing ecosystems. The exact scope and effects of such a collapse cannot be fully anticipated. But it is doubtful humans would be unharmed.

Human civilization uses an enormous amount of free ecoservices, that is, services provided by nature including the purification of water, the formation of soil, the regulation of climate, and energy resources such as hydropower and biomass. However one values these services, the value is enormous. If humans had to pay for these services, that is, if we had to set up mechanical and chemical substitutes, we would never able to afford it. But, we probably wouldn’t be able to set up substitute systems that work as precisely and effectively as nature’s.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The world-changing potential of hot composting

The world-changing potential of hot composting

As long as there have been humans, we have taken the parts of plants we don’t eat and thrown them back onto the soil again, knowing it would turn back into soil to create more plants. Until we modern people came along, that is. 

Now we take our food and seal it away in plastic, so that the only bacteria that can work on them are anoxic bacteria that generate methane – a greenhouse gas about 35 times worse than carbon dioxide. The least we can do, obviously, is to throw compostables into the compost, let the proper critters munch away, and let it alchemically turn into soil again.
Ordinary composting, however, has some disadvantages that every gardener knows well. One can’t simply add bones or meat – and some gardeners even avoid eggshells – for fear of attracting vermin. Also, plants that have gone to seed cannot be added, or the resulting soil will be peppered with the beginning of next year’s weeds. You can’t add diseased plants, or the diseases might remain in the resulting soil, ready to infect next year’s crops. Also, it takes a long time, and one loses much of the kitchen waste volume in the process of rotting down.

Imagine, then, a new kind of composting, one that avoids all these problems at once – no more weed seeds, no more disease, no more vermin. Imagine being able to compost almost everything, and keep the majority of the biomass. Imagine, finally, that it only takes a few weeks.

What makes hot composting work is bacteria; instead of the usual variety of bacteria that breaks down over several months, hot composters find the right balance of materials – more on this in a moment — to attract aerobic, heat-generating bacteria. Then, they oxygenate the soil by turning the compost regularly, and making sure the compost has enough mass – at least 1.5 metres on each side — to retain the heat it generates.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Early rain as Arctic warms means more methane

Early rain as Arctic warms means more methane

Methane bubbles trapped in ice in a Canadian lake. Image: By John Bakator on Unsplash

As spring advances, so does the rain to warm the permafrost. It means more methane can get into the atmosphere to accelerate global warming.

LONDON, 18 February, 2019 − As the global temperature steadily rises, it ensures that levels of one of the most potent greenhouse gases are increasing in a way new to science: the planet will have to reckon with more methane than expected.

Researchers who monitored one bog for three years in the Alaskan permafrost have identified yet another instance of what engineers call positive feedback. They found that global warming meant earlier springs and with that, earlier spring rains.

And as a consequence, the influx of warm water on what had previously been frozen ground triggered a biological frenzy that sent methane emissions soaring.

One stretch of wetland in a forest of black spruce in the Alaskan interior stepped up its emissions of natural gas (another name for methane) by 30%. Methane is a greenhouse gas at least 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

“The microbes in this bog on some level are like ‘Oh man, we’re stuck making methane because that’s all this bog is allowing us to do’”

As a consequence, climate scientists may have to return yet again to the vexed question of the carbon budget, in their calculations of how fast the world will warm as humans burn more fossil fuels, to set up ever more rapid global warming and climate change, which will in turn accelerate the thawing of the permafrost.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

More Than 200 Million In Path Of Major Winter Storm Sweeping Across The US

More Than 200 Million In Path Of Major Winter Storm Sweeping Across The US

A monster storm that started Sunday in California will quickly transverse across the country over the next 72 hours, spreading snow, rain, ice and a wintery mix to more than 200 million Americans.

This is approximately 60% of the entire American population, AccuWeather reported.

“Parts of 39 of the 48 contiguous United States will be impacted by the massive storm, including every state east of the Mississippi River. The storm will have such a large impact on so many because it will reach parts of 26 of the 30 most populous states,” AccuWeather meteorologist Faith Eherts said.

As the storm gains momentum up the Tennessee and Ohio valleys by Wednseday, it will unleash snow and ice over the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast.

“Since this storm will have a great deal of moisture available to it from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, a substantial amount of precipitation is likely,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys.

While the Deep South deals with heavy rainfall, temperatures will drop enough for wintry precipitation from northern Texas to Minnesota and Maine.

“As the moisture reaches the mid-Atlantic on Wednesday, it will be cold enough for snow from Washington, D.C. to New York City.”

Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia metro areas can expect a quick burst of 3 to 6 inches of snow starting late Tuesday night into Wednesday, before the precipitation changes into ice then rain.

“Near the time of the change from snow to ice, it may be snowing at the rate of 1-2 inches per hour,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Accuweather warns that commuters in parts of the central Appalachians and the mid-Atlantic region could leave their homes in dry conditions on Wednseday morning but have a hellacious commute back.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

18 Organic Farms Changing the World

organic farms changing the world

18 Organic Farms Changing the World

Organic farms work daily to solve the puzzle of sustainable agriculture while providing their local communities and markets with fresh nutritional foods. 

Organic foods have no chemical additives or pesticides. They are also free from flavor enhancers, sweeteners, and preservatives. In most cases, organic and minimally processed foods are more nutritious than their mainstream process alternatives. They generally have more beta-carotene, polyphenols, antioxidants (to fight cancer), flavonoids (to fight heart disease), fatty acids, and minerals.

When it comes to sustainability, organic farms have many questions to answer:

  • How do they reduce their carbon emissions?
  • How do they conserve water and slow the rapid depletion of groundwater?
  • How do they save plants from pests and vermin on a large scale without using pesticides and chemicals?
  • How do they farm while nourishing the land and not eroding topsoil?
  • How do they provide economic sustainability and social sustainability, such as fair wages and healthy working environments, to employees?

Each of the farms listed below have found a way to answer these questions as they take control of their food production.

How Farms Prioritize Education

Many organic farms prioritize outreach, community engagement, and education. Farms host community events or hold classes for adults as well as children to learn anything from gardening to cooking. Many farms seek to empower individuals to grow their own food and plant their own gardens. Organic farms also offer free resources such as their favorite recipes for cooking with natural ingredients.

Farmsharing and Community-Supported Agriculture

Many local farms use community supported agriculture (CSA) programs or farmshares to connect with local community members. Members support the farm upfront and are rewarded with the best fresh produce or meat cuts. This allows farmers to plan ahead with their seasonal demand and minimize potential risk and waste. If you’re interested in a CSA or farmshare, you can use LocalHarvest to find one local to you.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The U.S. Military on Peak Oil and Climate Change

The U.S. Military on Peak Oil and Climate Change

Preface. I find that of all the government branches, the military is the most realistic about the implications of Peak Oil and Climate Change.  The Department of Defense is also the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, spending about $20 billion on energy in 2011, and within the military, the air force consumes the most energy, $10 billion (84% liquid fuel, 12% electricity).  DuPont consumes as much energy as the Department of defense, so they’re not the only mega-consumer of petroleum (NRC 2013).

***

CNA. May 2009. Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security. Center for Naval Analyses. 74 pages. 

[ Excerpts from this document follow ]

The destabilizing nature of increasingly scarce energy resources, the impacts of rising energy demand, and the impacts of climate change all are likely to increasingly drive military missions in this century.

GENERAL CHARLES F. “CHUCK” WALD, USAF (RET.) Former Deputy Commander, Headquarters U.S. European Command (USEUCOM); Chairman, CNA MAB

Retired Air Force General Chuck Wald wants to see major changes in how America produces and uses energy. He wants carbon emissions reduced to help stave off the destabilizing effects of climate change.

“We’ve always had to deal with unpredictable and diverse threats,” Gen. Wald said. “They’ve always been hard to judge, hard to gauge. Things that may seem innocuous become important. Things that seem small become big. Things that are far away can be felt close to home. Take the pirates off the African coast. To me, it’s surprising that pirates, today, would cause so much havoc. It’s a threat that comes out of nowhere, and it becomes a dangerous situation.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Melting polar ice sheets will alter weather

Melting polar ice sheets will alter weather

Melting ice off the coast of Greenland. Image: By Frank Busch on Unsplash

Sea level rise and melting polar ice sheets may not cause a climate catastrophe, but they will certainly change weather patterns unpredictably.

LONDON, 15 February, 2019 – The global weather is about to get worse. The melting polar ice sheets will mean rainfall and windstorms could become more violent, and hot spells and ice storms could become more extreme.

This is because the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are melting, to affect what were once stable ocean currents and airflow patterns around the globe.

Planetary surface temperatures could rise by 3°C or even 4°C by the end of the century. Global sea levels will rise in ways that would “enhance global temperature variability”, but this might not be as high as earlier studies have predicted. That is because the ice cliffs of Antarctica might not be so much at risk of disastrous collapse that would set the glaciers accelerating to the sea.

The latest revision of evidence from the melting ice sheets in two hemispheres – and there is plenty of evidence that melting is happening at ever greater rates – is based on two studies of what could happen to the world’s greatest reservoirs of frozen freshwater if nations pursue current policies, fossil fuel combustion continues to increase, and global average temperatures creep up to unprecedented levels.

“Even if we do include ice-cliff instability … the most likely contribution to sea level rise would be less than half a metre by 2100”

“Under current global government policies, we are heading towards 3 or 4 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels, causing a significant amount of melt water from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to enter Earth’s oceans.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New Study Finds 41% Increase In Cancer Risk From Roundup’s Glyphosate

New Study Finds 41% Increase In Cancer Risk From Roundup’s Glyphosate

A comprehensive analysis of glyphosate – the most widely used weed-killing chemical in the world – reveals that those with the highest exposures to the popular herbicide have a 41% increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) cancer

The meta-analysis of six studies containing nearly 65,000 participants also looked at links between glyphosate-based herbicides and immunosuppression, endocrine disruption and genetic alterations

The study authors said their new meta-analysis evaluated all published human studies, including a 2018 updated government-funded study known as the Agricultural Health Study (AHS). Monsanto has cited the updated AHS study as proving that there is no tie between glyphosate and NHL. In conducting the new meta-analysis, the researchers said they focused on the highest exposed group in each study because those individuals would be most likely to have an elevated risk if in fact glyphosate herbicides cause NHL. –The Guardian

“Together, all of the meta-analyses conducted to date, including our own, consistently report the same key finding: exposure to GBHs are associated with an increased risk of NHL,” concludes the report. 

The study, which looks at both human and animal studies also suggests that glyphosate “alters the gut microbiome,” which could “impact the immune system, promote chronic inflammation, and contribute to the susceptibility of invading pathogens.

Furthermore, glyphosate “may act as an endocrine disrupting chemical because it has been found recently to alter sex hormone production” in both male and female rats. 

Lastly, the study looks at genetic alterations caused by glyphosates, noting that several studies show glyphosates inducing “single- and double-strand DNA breaks,” oxidation, and other “genotoxicity” factors – though the researchers caution that this remains a controversial subject. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Al Gore’s Global Warming Deliberate Fraud to Increase Governmental Power

Al Gore’s Global Warming Deliberate Fraud to Increase Governmental Power 

There is a serious question that no one wants to address. How did Al Gore create the global warming scare and earn hundreds of millions of dollars in the process? Before Al Gore, science was worried deeply about what we are experiencing today — global cooling. On April 28, 1975, Newsweek magazine published an article in which they sounded the alarm bell and proposed solutions to deliberately melt the ice caps:

“Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting thearcticc ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing variables of climate uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies.”

This sounds very similar to today’s proposed solution of putting particles in the atmosphere to deflect the sunlight to reduce global warming.  Indeed, TIME magazine’s January 31, 1977, cover featured the cover story, “The Big Freeze.” They reported that scientists were predicting that Earth’s average temperature could drop by 20 degrees fahrenheit. Their cited cause was, of course, that humans created global cooling. Then suddenly the climate cycles shifted and it began to warm up.

There was this core group of people who seemed to enjoy all the attention they were gathering by predicting the end of civilization caused by humans. As the temperatures began to warm, suddenly they had to switch the dire forecasts from global cooling caused by humans to global warming caused by humans.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

World is halfway through its hottest decade

World is halfway through its hottest decade

Chile’s wall-to-wall solar panels will help as 1.5°C approaches. Image: By Antonio Garcia on Unsplash

Things are warming up: already the world is halfway through its hottest decade on record, if predictions prove correct.

LONDON, 13 February, 2019 – Here is a climate forecast that climate scientists, meteorologists, politicians, voters and even climate sceptics can check: the next five years will be warm, and will probably help to complete the hottest decade ever.

They will on a global average be at least 1°C higher than the average temperature of the planet 200 years ago, before the accelerating combustion of fossil fuels.

That is because the planet is already midway through what may well prove to be its warmest 10 years since records began on a planetary scale in 1850. There is even a possibility that within the next five years, the global temperature rise could tip 1.5°C above the long-term average for human history.

This is the ambitious limit to global warming that the world set itself at an historic meeting in Paris in 2015, for the year 2100.

And the forecasters can make such predictions with some confidence because tomorrow’s temperature chart is already inscribed in the air we breathe: the pattern of warming over the last century is consistent with the steady rise in greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, and these are still increasing because fossil fuel use is still going up.

“Predictions now suggest around a 10% chance of at least one year between 2019 and 2023 temporarily exceeding 1.5°C”

Adam Scaife, who heads long-range prediction research at the UK Met Office, said: “2015 was the first year that global annual average surface temperatures reached 1.0°C above pre-industrial levels and the following three years have all remained close to this level.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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