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Are We In the Midst of a Silent Mass Extinction?

A white deer mouse on sand surrounded by plants
Genetic diversity in deer mice creates differences in coat color. NICOLE BEDFORD

Are We In the Midst of a Silent Mass Extinction?

A new modeling technique aims to help scientists and policymakers detect declines in genetic diversity based on habitat loss.

Nearly one fifth of the genetic diversity of the planet’s most vulnerable species may already be lost, an analysis published today (September 22) in Science finds. If accurate, it would mean that many species are already below a conservation threshold proposed last year by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) a part of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Calculating lost genetic diversity

Moisés Expósito-Alonso was in his back yard in Menlo Park, California, last year reading a monograph on the unified theory of biodiversity—“kind of a nerd thing to do,” he says—when an idea dawned on him. He kept seeing concepts related to biodiversity and realized that those concepts should also relate to the genetic diversity of a given species.

Expósito-Alonso, an evolutionary geneticist and ecologist at Stanford University, says that one equation in particular caught his eye: the species-area relationship (SAR), a function that predicts that species-level biodiversity becomes richer as habitat area expands. Essentially, it says that “when you explore ecosystems, you continuously find more species because you find more little niches to which different species have adapted,” he says. And as humans have increasingly carved up ecosystems for our own purposes, the SAR holds that the reverse is also true—shrinking habitat areas diminish species biodiversity. Researchers have used the SAR to estimate extinction rates, and it has been cited in policy-making decisions, Expósito-Alonso says; so, he began to wonder if a genetic diversity equivalent existed that could analogously predict how habitat loss reduces genetic diversity.

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

Humanity’s Biggest Crisis Since WW2?

Humanity’s Biggest Crisis Since WW2?

Top Scientists: We Face “A Ghastly Future”

Editor’s note: According to the scientists who wrote the following paper, “future environmental conditions will be far more dangerous than currently believed. The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms—including humanity—is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts.”

We agree, and have been working to both inform people about these issues and to resist the destruction of the planet since our organization formed over a decade ago. “Any else [other than telling the truth about our ecological crisis] is misleading at best,” the scientists write, “or negligent and potentially lethal for the human enterprise [and, we must add, much of life on this planet] at worst.”

Modern civilization is a society of the spectacle in which media corporations focus more on who won the football game or how the queen is buried than about the breakdown of planetary ecology. This scientific report is essential reading and should be a headline news story worldwide. However, this information is inherently subversive, and therefore is either ignored or framed in such a way as to support the goals of the wealthy.

For years, our co-founder Derrick Jensen has asked his audiences, “Do you think this culture will undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of life?” No one ever says yes. This is why Deep Green Resistance exists.

Deep Green Resistance starts where the environmental movement leaves off: industrial civilization is incompatible with life. Technology can’t fix it, and shopping—no matter how green—won’t stop it. To save this planet, we need a serious resistance movement that can bring down the industrial economy. Deep Green Resistance is a plan of action for anyone determined to fight for this planet—and win.


Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future

We report three major and confronting environmental issues that have received little attention and require urgent action. First, we review the evidence that future environmental conditions will be far more dangerous than currently believed. The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms—including humanity—is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts. Second, we ask what political or economic system, or leadership, is prepared to handle the predicted disasters, or even capable of such action. Third, this dire situation places an extraordinary responsibility on scientists to speak out candidly and accurately when engaging with government, business, and the public. We especially draw attention to the lack of appreciation of the enormous challenges to creating a sustainable future. The added stresses to human health, wealth, and well-being will perversely diminish our political capacity to mitigate the erosion of ecosystem services on which society depends. The science underlying these issues is strong, but awareness is weak. Without fully appreciating and broadcasting the scale of the problems and the enormity of the solutions required, society will fail to achieve even modest sustainability goals.

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

UCSB Scientists See the End of ‘Normal’ Climate

UCSB Scientists See the End of ‘Normal’ Climate

Researcher Asks: ‘What Happens If You Know the Drought Is Never Going to End?’

Credit: Courtesy

“We are experiencing extreme, sustained drought conditions in California and across the American West caused by hotter, drier weather,” states the plan. “Our warming climate means that a greater share of the rain and snowfall we receive will be absorbed by dry soils, consumed by thirsty plants, and evaporated into the air.”

The plan says that steadily rising temperatures will overcome even a year or two of better-than-average or average rainfall in Southern California — as in 2018 and 2019 — and will not close what state officials call an “evaporative gap” that threatens California’s water supply.

This new state plan follows the climate science on “aridification.” That’s the scientific term for the “drying trend” that young climate scientist Samantha Stevenson of UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Engineering identified this year in an extensive global study of the 21st-century hydroclimate.

Danielle Touma | Credit: Courtesy

Stevenson said that she wanted to provoke new thinking about what we call drought.

“Drought is already normal in much of the western United States and other parts of the world, such as western Europe,” Stevenson said. “Part of the reason I wrote the paper was to try to say that we need to think about what we mean when we say ‘drought,’ because we’ve been using these definitions based on expectations from 40 years ago. What happens if you know the drought is never going to end?”

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

The latest on Ian’s impact on the supply chain

The latest on Ian’s impact on the supply chain

Ports, airports remain closed in wake of hurricane

Floridians are starting to assess the damage created by Hurricane Ian a day after it slammed into the Gulf Coast as a massive Category 4 storm. By Thursday morning, Ian had been downgraded to a tropical storm, but a threat remains as it continues to bring heavy winds and rain to the state.

As of 11:54 a.m. EDT, more than 2.6 million Floridians were without power, with some counties, including Hardee, almost completely in the dark.

Nearly 20% of Tampa gas stations have reported fuel shortage and access issues.

As previously reported, the logistics impacts could last for weeks — or longer.

Here’s the latest as of 11:30 a.m. EDT:

Roads and bridges

In a news conference Thursday morning in Tallahassee, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is working to make sure roads and interstate highways are open.

Most of Interstate 75 remains open, according to FDOT, with some interruptions.

“Alligator Alley on I-75 across into Collier and Lee County is open and flowing,” DeSantis said. “I-75 south through Charlotte County is open and flowing. Portions of Lee County they are still looking at.”

Additionally, part of the Sanibel Causeway Bridge, a major bridge that connects Fort Myers to Sanibel Island, has been washed out.

Hurricane Ian Strengthens To Powerful Category 4 As Florida Landfall Imminent

Hurricane Ian Strengthens To Powerful Category 4 As Florida Landfall Imminent

Hurricane Ian strengthened into a powerful Category 4 storm expected to make landfall on Florida’s southwest coast today and then traverse central Florida and emerge in the Atlantic by Thursday.

At 0500 ET, the National Hurricane Center said Ian sustained maximum winds of 140 mph and gusts up to 165 mph. The storm’s center was about 75 miles west-southwest of Naples and 105 miles south-southwest of Punta Gorda, moving north-northeast at 10 mph.

“Ian is forecast to approach the west coast of Florida as an extremely dangerous major hurricane, weakening is expected after landfall.

“On the forecast track, the center of Ian is expected to approach the west coast of Florida within the hurricane warning area this morning, and move onshore later today. The center of Ian is forecast to move over central Florida tonight and Thursday morning and emerge over the western Atlantic by late Thursday,” NHC senior hurricane specialist Daniel Brown told Orlando Sentinel

Ian’s path has shifted south of Tampa Bay, and landfall is now expected between Fort Myers and Sarasota on Wednesday morning or early afternoon before moving across the central part of the state.

NHC warned a “life-threatening storm surge is expected along the Florida west coast and the Lower Florida Keys,” with “devastating wind damage” expected near Ian’s center.

“Catastrophic flooding is expected across portions of central Florida with considerable flooding in southern Florida, northern Florida, southeastern Georgia and coastal South Carolina,” the weather agency continued.

“It’s going to be historic,” National Weather Service Melbourne meteorologist Kole Fehling in Melbourne, referring to the storm’s landfall impacts.

Fehling said Central Florida could be swamped with 15 to 20 inches of rainfall, with some areas receiving upwards of 24 inches.

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

The Fourth Great Humiliation of Humanity is Upon Us.

The Fourth Great Humiliation of Humanity is Upon Us.

If we don’t pull our heads in, we’re doomed. If we do, the future is bright.

“Galileo Sees the Earth” by sjrankin is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0._c

WHEN I WAS TEACHING in Japan 20 years ago, one of my students introduced me to The Three Great Humiliations of Man [sic] in an essay I’d assigned. I was so impressed by her powerful choice of plagiarism, that I passed it with flying colours.

Incidentally, I stopped using the term ‘man’ (and ‘mankind’) 35 years ago. I’m amazed to find people still using it today – alongside some who claim we’re not a biologically sexual species. So much for social cohesion. Forgive the rant.

Just now I searched online for The Three Great Humiliations of Humanity. There were many references to the Century of Humiliation in China, but it turns out Sigmund Freud coined the term. They are: 1/ The discovery by Copernicus and Galileo that we are not the centre of the universe. 2/ Darwin’s discovery that we are descended from apes. 3/ Freud’s discovery that we are not in control of our minds. I don’t think we can accuse Freud of humility!

The Fourth Great Humiliation – or Humbling – of our species is upon us. We’re stuck on this beautiful blue gem in space and we’d better learn to live within it’s limits. If we do, we have a chance at peace, harmony and happiness. We also have a chance to reach a similarly livable planet in the galaxy in the distant future. If we don’t, our prospects are very grim indeed.

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

The Global Water Crisis Could Crush The Energy Industry

The Global Water Crisis Could Crush The Energy Industry

  • Water is growing more scarce due to climate change.
  • Water scarcity could derail the green energy boom, and even hinder fossil fuel production.
  • With rising concerns over water scarcity, mainly due to climate change, there are fears that the big transition to renewable energy will be hindered even further.

For years, the energy sector, and almost every other sector, has taken water for granted, viewing it as an abundant resource. But as we move into a new era of renewable energy, the vast amounts of water required to power green energy operations may not be so easy to find. And it’s not just renewables that are under threat from water scarcity, as it also hinders fossil fuel production and threatens food security.

In recent months, we have seen extreme droughts across Europe and the U.S., which are finally making people realise the significance of water security. Stefano Venier, CEO of the Italian energy infrastructure company Snam, highlights the huge impact recent droughts have had on both food security and energy production. Labelled as ‘Europe’s worst drought in 500 years’, the low water levels have restricted shipping capabilities, as well as drying up soil and reducing summer crop yields.

Venier explains, “For a long time, water was considered [as being] for free, as something that is fully available in any quantity.” He went on to say, “Now, we are discovering that with climate change … water can become scarce.” And so, “we have to regain the perception of importance, and the value [that] … the water has, also, with respect to … energy production… we have discovered that without water, enough water, we cannot produce the energy we need, or we can’t ship the fuels for filling the power plants,” he added.

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

UCSB Scientists See the End of ‘Normal’ Climate

UCSB Scientists See the End of ‘Normal’ Climate

Researcher Asks: ‘What Happens If You Know the Drought Is Never Going to End?’

Credit: Courtesy

In August, Governor Gavin Newsom and officials from the Department of Water Resources released a new Water Supply Strategy, saying that because of California’s “hotter, drier climate,” the state needed to find at least 10 percent more water to supply its farms, cities, and industry by 2040.

“We are experiencing extreme, sustained drought conditions in California and across the American West caused by hotter, drier weather,” states the plan. “Our warming climate means that a greater share of the rain and snowfall we receive will be absorbed by dry soils, consumed by thirsty plants, and evaporated into the air.”

The plan says that steadily rising temperatures will overcome even a year or two of better-than-average or average rainfall in Southern California — as in 2018 and 2019 — and will not close what state officials call an “evaporative gap” that threatens California’s water supply.

This new state plan follows the climate science on “aridification.” That’s the scientific term for the “drying trend” that young climate scientist Samantha Stevenson of UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Engineering identified this year in an extensive global study of the 21st-century hydroclimate.

Danielle Touma | Credit: Courtesy

Stevenson said that she wanted to provoke new thinking about what we call drought.

“Drought is already normal in much of the western United States and other parts of the world, such as western Europe,” Stevenson said. “Part of the reason I wrote the paper was to try to say that we need to think about what we mean when we say ‘drought,’ because we’ve been using these definitions based on expectations from 40 years ago. What happens if you know the drought is never going to end?”

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

Managing plant surplus carbon to generate soil organic matter in regenerative agriculture

Soil degradation is a global problem. A third of the planet’s land is already severely degraded, and soil is being degraded at a speed that threatens the health of the planet and the civilizations that depend on it (Whitmee et al. 2015). Depletion of soil organic carbon (SOC) resulting from extractive agriculture is a key driver of soil degradation (Lal et al. 2015). Much of this SOC has been released to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2), a potent greenhouse gas contributing to ongoing climate change, including extreme weather events. Soil degradation also diminishes water infiltration and retention, biodiversity, watershed functions, and the nutritional value of food. Reversing soil degradation is a top global priority (UNCCD 2017).

Yields of major crops have increased substantially in the last century, primarily through intensive chemical fertilization. However, the greater aboveground plant biomass production resulting from chemical fertilization has usually not led to proportional gains in plant inputs to soil and soil organic matter (SOM) accrual (Khan et al. 2007Man et al. 2021). Instead, these practices, in concert with other intensive agricultural practices such as intensive tillage, monoculture, application of pesticides, and bare fallows, have caused declines in SOM, increases in greenhouse gas emissions, and pollution of waterways (Loisel et al. 2019). However, adopting regenerative agricultural practices, such as substituting chemical with organic fertilizers like compost or manure, reducing tillage, intensifying and diversifying crop rotations, and cover cropping, often increase SOM (McClelland et al. 2021). The mechanisms underlying the positive effects of regenerative agricultural practices on SOM, however, are not well understood. Elucidating these mechanisms would advance our capacity to design agricultural strategies to reliably enhance agroecosystem SOM content, which would assist in reversing soil degradation and enhancing soil quality, food security, and climate change mitigation globally (Amelung et al. 2020).

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

“Ferocious Fiona” Makes Landfall In Canada, Leaving Hundreds Of Thousands Without Power

“Ferocious Fiona” Makes Landfall In Canada, Leaving Hundreds Of Thousands Without Power

Powerful storm Fiona battered eastern Canada on Saturday with hurricane-force winds and torrential rains, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power.

The National Hurricane Center said Post-Tropical Cyclone Fiona made landfall early Saturday morning on the northeast corner of mainland Nova Scotia. It added Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 81 mph, peaking at times of over 100 mph.

Canadian Hurricane Center said Fiona was one of the lowest pressured land falling storms ever to hit Canada. For some context, lower the pressure means stronger the storm.

As of 0800 ET, the storm was 160 miles northeast of Halifax, packing winds of 85 mph and barreling north at around 23 mph.

According to Nova Scotia Power, over 400,000 people across the province of about one million were without power as of 0800 ET.

… and there goes the internet.

Social media users tweeted footage of the damage left behind by Fiona.

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

Poland Begins Handing Out Iodine Pills On Fears Of Ukraine Nuclear Plant Meltdown

Poland Begins Handing Out Iodine Pills On Fears Of Ukraine Nuclear Plant Meltdown

Poland has begun a program of distributing iodine tablets to emergency workers and first responders, starting with regional fire departments – who can in turn hand them out to the general population – in the event of a possible radioactive disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

A Polish deputy minister first announced the plan on Thursday, warning of the possibility of dangerous radioactive exposure amid continued fighting in neighboring Ukraine, where technicians at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant continue to struggle to maintain safeguards.

“After the media reports about battles near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, we decided… ahead of time to take protective action to distribute iodine,” the Polish official, Blazej Pobozy, said in a national radio broadcast.

“I would like to reassure all citizens that these are routine, preemptive actions that are to protect us in the event of a situation which… I hope will not happen.” Iodine tablets can help protect against conditions associated with radioactive exposure such as thyroid cancer.

The plant has suffered frequently cut power cables, having been removed from the nation’s power grid multiple times and reverting to back-up measures, amid shelling in the area as some 500 Russian troops have occupied the complex since March.

Both sides have continued to blame the other for the deteriorating operating conditions, which earlier in the month caused plant operators to take a sixth reactor off the grid out of an abundance of caution while a power line was being restored after fire.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, “Due to Russian provocation, the Zaporizhzhya plant is one step away from a radiation disaster.”

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

In America, Clean Water Is Becoming a Luxury

In America, Clean Water Is Becoming a Luxury

Our water system’s collapsing—and I found out the hard way.

Getty

I can’t forget to turn the kettle on before bed. In the morning, I’ll need that water to wash my hands and brush my teeth. The rest I’ll carefully store in the fridge, away from light and bacteria. It’s a routine I shared with at least 1,500 neighbors—for the better part of a week—when E. coli bacteria tainted West Baltimore’s water, bringing risks from stomach bugs to lethal kidney disease. Welcome to life without clean, running water.

Across the country, extreme weather is accelerating breakdowns decades in the making. Storms are battering old water and wastewater networks, many with parts built a century ago or more for vastly different climate conditions. Floods are overwhelming existing facilities, sometimes contaminating water at the source.

Baltimore officials still can’t pinpoint a cause, but storms caused dire flooding here in August, and that’s contaminated the water before. Such storms are getting more common and less predictable, with climate change the likely reason. Rising sea levels make coastal floods even more dangerous, despite mitigation plans. A 2019 storm even flooded our harbor with more than a million gallons of sewage. And Baltimore is far from the only example.

Running water is everything, which you don’t realize fully until you’re without. Your morning coffee? Bottled or pre-boiled water. Pets? They need theirs bottled or boiled, too. Showers? Fine, if you keep your mouth closed throughout. But that’s harder for kids, and the CDC recommends using bottled or boiled water (cooled first!) to bathe them. Are you one of the lucky few who found powdered infant formula? Don’t forget to use bottled water, too. But city officials, after telling us to do just that, set up exactly three bottled-water pickup spots for everybody at risk.

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

Global Food Supply Crises May Worsen Due to Poor US Harvest

Global Food Supply Crises May Worsen Due to Poor US Harvest

U.S. agriculture has been facing a poor harvest this year, aggravating the global food supply crisis, industry executives have said.

The supply of food worldwide has been tight, since Russia’s war in Ukraine cut off vital shipments of resources needed to make fertilizer and grain products from the region.

Several high-level executives from big agricultural firms such as Bayer, Corteva, Archer Daniels Midland, and Bunge, told The Wall Street Journal that it will take at least two more years of good harvests in North and South America to ease the supply pressures.

“The current market expectation is that global grain and oilseeds markets need two consecutive normal crop years to stabilize global supplies,” said Chuck Magro, chief executive of Corteva, at an investor presentation this week.

This year’s grain harvest has fallen below normal yields in the West, hindering efforts to restock global crop supplies he explained.

The United States and South America, two of the world’s major crop exporters,  faced persistent drought conditions this summer.

The hot summer worsened drought conditions in states throughout the U.S. Grain Belt, which saw a major reduction in the harvest due to lack of water and a wet spring planting season earlier in the year.

The Agriculture Department announced on Sept. 12, that it had lowered its nationwide corn production estimates to 13.9 billion bushels.

This is 3 percent lower than its projections in August, about 8 percent lower than the total amount harvested last year.

Projections for soybean production estimates in September were down 3 percent from August, down slightly from 2021.

Maintaining a Food Truce

Global recession fears have also weighed on food commodity markets and the prolonged conflict in Ukraine has not helped matters.

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

IEO Virutal Seminar: The Market for Rare Minerals and Implications for Phasing Out Fossil Fuels: Where Do We Stand?

IEO Virutal Seminar: The Market for Rare Minerals and Implications for Phasing Out Fossil Fuels: Where Do We Stand?

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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