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Science Snippets: “If We Start Right Now …”

Science Snippets: “If We Start Right Now …”

Every day, I receive an email message from at least one person with this line, or something like it: “If we start right now …” The message then goes on to say that, if we start right now, we can fix the climate emergency. We can preserve habitat for human animals if we start taking action, collectively, right now.

The latest message came from Bill, of course. Bill knows the message from the corporate media is nonsense. In fact, the content of Bill’s message was one line, followed by a link to an article in Axios. The line written by Bill was, “More hopium soaked BS.” Sure enough, the article in Axios was, and is, hopium-soaked BS. Here’s the title of the paper published 13 June 2023, and then I’ll describe and quote from the article: “Climate extremes raise questions, concerns about faster warming.”

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The article begins with a figure of daily global average sea surface temperatures plotted over time. Included in the graph is the 1982-2011 average, as if that’s a reasonable baseline. It includes the average for this period and it highlights sea surface temperature for all of 2022 and the first half of 2023.

Early on, the article includes a section called The big picture. Here’s the big picture, which includes embedded links to four additional stories: “Global surface air and ocean temperatures have spiked sharply in recent months, along with record low Antarctic sea ice, extreme heat events around the world, as Canada’s heat and wildfire crisis grips North America. Along with other developments, the combination of these factors have raised alarms regarding whether climate change is accelerating.”

…click on the above link to read the rest…

State Farm Halts Home Insurance Sales In California

State Farm Halts Home Insurance Sales In California

Faltering California took another economic hit on Friday, as America’s largest personal lines insurer said it would immediately stop selling new home insurance policies in the state. California is the largest property and casualty insurance market in the country.

State Farm attributed the decision to three factors: “historic increases in construction costs outpacing inflation, rapidly growing catastrophe exposure, and a challenging reinsurance market.” Reinsurance is a method of transferring some of an insurer’s risk to other insurers.

Existing policies will stay in effect — for now. There’s always the possibility that, if things keep deteriorating, State Farm could decide to “non-renew” current policy-holders. That’s what AIG did last year, sending thousands of high-end homeowners scrambling to find new coverage.

The announcement’s timing — on a Friday afternoon heading into a long holiday weekend — seemed intended to minimize publicity. In statement, State Farm said it “will cease accepting new applications including all business and personal lines property and casualty insurance, effective May 27, 2023. This decision does not impact personal auto insurance.” The halt seems to include renters insurance, though the announcement wasn’t explicit on that count.

Inflation has been taking a harsh toll on insurers, who are pressing regulators to approve rate hikes to compensate for rising claim costs. Earlier this month, for example, San Antonio-based USAA posted the first ever annual loss in its 100-year history — a $1.3 billion setback.

In California, insurers have also been contending with high wildfire risks, and many have curtailed coverage in wildfire-prone regions, or clamped down on homes that lack certain fire-thwarting characteristics, which range from building materials to clearing space between the structure and surrounding trees.

State Farm diplomatically acknowledged the California government’s efforts to make the state a viable place for property insurers to operate in, but implied their efforts to date have been insufficient:

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Study Bolsters Case That Climate Change Is Driving Many California Wildfires

Study Bolsters Case That Climate Change Is Driving Many California Wildfires

Link Seen to Fivefold Jump in Area Burned

Against a backdrop of long-term rises in temperature in recent decades, California has seen ever higher spikes in seasonal wildfires, and, in the last two years, a string of disastrous, record-setting blazes. This has led scientists, politicians and media to ponder: what role might warming climate be playing here? A new study combs through the many factors that can promote wildfire, and concludes that in many, though not all, cases, warming climate is the decisive driver. The study finds in particular that the huge summer forest fires that have raked the North Coast and Sierra Nevada regions recently have a strong connection to arid ground conditions brought on by increasing heat. It suggests that wildfires could grow exponentially in the next 40 years, as temperatures continue to rise.

Area burned by California wildfires in thousands of square kilometers, 1972-2018. Specific regions studied are at upper left. (Adapted from Williams et al., 2019)

The study notes that average summer temperatures in the state have risen 3.25 degrees Fahrenheit since 1896, with three-quarters of that increase occurring since the early 1970s. From 1972 to 2018, the area burned annually has shot up fivefold, fueled mainly by a more than eightfold spike in summer forest fires. The researchers say the summer forest-fire increases are driven by a simple mechanism: when air heats up even modestly, it causes more moisture to evaporate from soils and vegetation. The result: fires start more easily, and can spread faster and farther. During the fall, and in non-forested areas, different dynamics may be at work and the results are less clear; but the researchers project that climate-driven aridity is likely to play a growing role there as well.

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

Cognitive Dissonance and Outright Lies at the Edge of Extinction

Cognitive Dissonance and Outright Lies at the Edge of Extinction

In recent weeks and months I have been amazed at the general public and most scientists ability to ignore the blatant evidence that we are in early stage, non-linear runaway warming. From individual activists, to the donation soaked and addicted corporate NGO’s, who are literally dependent on “Business as Usual” to maintain their cash flows, they ignore the elephant in the room, squandering vital time to prepare for the already unfolding collapse.
On an individual basis the decision to deny the severity of the situation is up to each persons conscience and/or courage to accept the predicament we find ourselves in but when it comes to research universities and their tenured scientists, governments and the large NGO’s it’s a ‘Dereliction of Duty’ for them not to be ‘completely frank’. That for me is abject dishonesty, especially toward the youth. I’ve previously singled out Dr Michael E Mann, the corporate media’s ‘Go To Mann’, for this dishonesty.
Below I will lay out just a few examples showing that we are in the runaway phase of this extinction event.
This fire season alone, “Australia’s wildfires have destroyed more than a fifth of the country’s forests, making the blazes “globally unprecedented” following a years-long drought linked to climate change, researchers said Monday.” Bushfires burned a fifth of Australia’s forest: Bushfires burned a fifth of Australia’s forest: study   Remember this is not an El Nino year, the next El Nino, if we have one, will be brutal and will put this event on steroids. The double feedback from these fires is that the forests were formerly carbon sinks so that has been lost and all the carbon that has ben released will accentuate the predicament.

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

California Utility Cutting Power to 51,000 Customers Amid Dangerous Wildfire Conditions

California Utility Cutting Power to 51,000 Customers Amid Dangerous Wildfire Conditions

The nation’s largest utility announced on Tuesday evening that it has begun shutting off power to some 51,000 customers as a large wildfire, fueled by winds, raged through a small Northern California forest town.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in a press release said it made the decision to prevent winds from knocking down or fouling power lines and sparking new blazes, citing “dry offshore winds, extreme to exceptional drought conditions and extremely dry vegetation.”

Power will be shut off in small portions of 18 northern California counties, including the Sierra Nevada foothills, the North Coast, the North Valley and the North Bay mountains, the company said.

“With these high winds and extremely dry climate conditions, we are focused on customer and community safety. It’s never an easy decision to turn off the power for safety, but it is the right thing to do to keep everyone safe,” PG&E Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Marlene Santos said in a statement.

The release notes that the company expects “all clears” will occur around Wednesday afternoon.

“We understand how disruptive and inconvenient it is to lose power. The sole focus of a PSPS [Public Safety Power Shutoff] is to keep our customers safe. As soon as this extreme weather passes, our crews will be inspecting our equipment and the vegetation around it, making repairs and restoring power as soon as it’s safe to do so,” Santos added.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has proclaimed a state of emergency for El Dorado County because of the Caldor fire, which tripled in size between Monday and Tuesday afternoon to nearly 50 square miles (129 square kilometers).

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

Environmental Demonstrators vs Militarized Police

Environmental Demonstrators vs Militarized Police

The movement against climate chaos is running up against intense repression funded by private corporations as well as the federal government, writes Shea Leibow.

A huge column of smoke from the Bootleg Fire in Oregon could be seen for miles on July 8. (National Interagency Fire Center, Wikimedia Commons)

This summer, we’ve seen the Bootleg fire rage through Oregon. East Coasters have been breathing West Coast smoke. Massive floods have slammed towns from Germany to China. The town of Lytton, British Columbia, burned to the ground.

These disasters give a new sense of urgency to transition away from the fossil fuels that are causing this climate chaos. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the movement fighting for this transition is running up against intense police repression — funded by private corporations as well as the federal government.

I saw some of this firsthand.

In June, I was one of the thousands who converged in Northern Minnesota for the Treaty People Gathering to protest the Line 3 tar sands pipeline. Tar sands are one of the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive fuel sources on the planet. The pipeline also violates the treaty rights of the local Anishinaabe people, threatening their water supply and sacred wild rice beds.

The Treaty People Gathering kicked off a summer of protests against the pipeline. Unfortunately, these nonviolent protests have been brutally cracked down on. Over 500 protestors have been arrested or issued citations so far.

While I was there, demonstrators were hounded by a Border Patrol helicopter flying close to the ground, kicking up dust and disorienting protestors. Police attacked protestors with a Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) and built a physical barricade outside a pipeline resistance camp on private property, preventing vehicle access.

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

People Left Cities for Rural Zoom Towns. How Does That Impact Wildfire Risk?


As the pandemic waxes and wanes and we look back on the last 18 months, it’s clear that different types of workers experienced differential economic impacts. On one hand, there are workers who need to be in a location to do their job. Many members of the workforce, including restaurant staff, hotel employees, and those in the events industry saw their financial livelihoods devastated as the pandemic shut down parts of the economy.

On the other hand, we also saw the boom of “Zoom workers”—or knowledge workers who can conduct their work online. These workers typically work from anywhere. For these workers, the pandemic enabled them to move out of the city and work in more rural locations with natural beauty.

As such, the pandemic has given birth to a massive real estate boom in these so-called “Zoom towns” where knowledge workers relocated during the pandemic. These picturesque locations, particularly in the West, have seen a spike in real estate prices.

But there is tremendous risk associated with these growing Zoom towns in rural areas —almost all of them are in high wildfire risk areas. Living in a cabin in the woods seems idyllic until a spark of lightning ignites the forest and endangers your home.

In this analysis, we examine the wildfire risk and property values of popular Zoom towns in the Western U.S. At CAPE Analytics, we use artificial intelligence to analyze vast quantities of geospatial imagery to help insurers and other companies better understand properties and property risk. In this analysis, we look at U.S. Forest Service wildfire risk data, paired with Zillow home price estimates from the Zillow Home Value Index.

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

Southeastern Europe Devastated By Wildfires

Southeastern Europe Devastated By Wildfires

A dangerous heat wave is ravaging parts of southeastern Europe resulting in wildfires across Turkey, Greece, and Italy, according to VOA News.

Firefighters across the European Union arrived in Turkey on Monday. The wildfires have burned for at least one week as political opposition mounts against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his sluggish fire response.

Turkey doesn’t have firefighting planes and has had to rely on other countries, including several EU members, for aerial fire support.

Erdogan tweeted a statement regarding the fires: “We will continue to take all necessary steps to heal our nation’s wounds, compensate for its losses, and improve its opportunities even better than before.” 

Nex store in Greece, thousands of residents were evacuated in Athens as wildfires tore through the northern district of the metro area. Homes were burnt, and power grids were severed.

“It is a large fire and it will take a lot of work to get this under control,” greater Athens regional governor George Patoulis told state-run ERT television. “The foliage is very dense in these areas and it is very dried out due to the heatwave, so the conditions are difficult.”

On Tuesday, high temperatures were a blistering 115F as the country faces the worst heat wave in three decades.

“The fire is still raging, its perimeter is very wide and the heat load is very strong,” a fire official said Wednesday, according to Reuters.

On Wednesday, Greek emergency services warned residents and tourists of “extreme fire danger” in Rhodes and Crete.

In Italy, firefighters used helicopters with water buckets to battle the country’s wildfires along the Adriatic coast and Sicily region. Italy’s National Fire Corps said air tankers from Canada supported efforts to reduce the spread of fires where at least 715 flare-ups have been observed in the past 24 hours.

The heat wave is expected to abate in southeastern Europe after this weekend.

“Apocalyptic Scenes” – Wildfires Consume Turkey 

“Apocalyptic Scenes” – Wildfires Consume Turkey 

Wildfires have been ravaging Turkey’s Mediterranean coast for the past few days, killing four, burning thousands of building structures, and affecting more than a dozen provinces.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin called the wildfires a national disaster.

According to Reuters, at least 60 wildfires have broken out across the country’s Mediterranean and southern Aegean region.

Forestry Minister Pakdemirli said 4,000 firefighters, 680 firefighting vehicles, 38 helicopters, nine drones, and three planes battle the wildfires.

“We were hoping to contain some of the fires as of this morning but while we say cautiously that they are improving, we still cannot say they are under control,” Pakdemirli said.

DW correspondent Julia Hahn tweeted scenes from Manavgat in Antalya province showing “apocalyptic scenes” of one wildfire.

Social media is full of horrifying videos of the wildfires.

Senior scientist of Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service Mark Parrington used satellite data to determine the “deadly scale” of the wildfires and shows which coastal areas are most affected.

Another view of the wildfires from space.

There’s still no word how the destructive fires began, but one government says “sabotage” cannot be ruled out.

Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish presidential communications director, said “comprehensive investigations” are being launched into the origins of the wildfires.

“Those responsible will have to account for the attacks against nature and forests,” Altun tweeted.

Turkey has been plagued with a heat wave like much of southeast Europe.

In neighboring Greece, authorities warned the public against the heightened risk of wildfires during the latest heat wave.

“A difficult weather phenomenon is coming in the next days with extremely high temperatures and several days of heat wave,” Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said. “I call on – I urge – everyone to show the highest degree of responsibility and cooperation.”

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

Christmas Tree Farms Scorched In Oregon Amid Record Heat

Christmas Tree Farms Scorched In Oregon Amid Record Heat

Oregon’s record-breaking heat waves and raging wildfires are set to dent Christmas tree crop output, resulting in supply constraints that may send prices skyrocketing come December.

According to Reuters, who spoke with multiple Christmas tree farm operators in Oregon, one of the top Christmas tree producing states, extreme heat and wildfires are impacting crop yields.

Jacob Hemphill, the owner of Hemphill Tree Farm in Oregon City, estimates he’s already lost more than $100,000 in trees due to the latest back-to-back heatwaves. At one point, temperatures in the area were triple digits for days.

“The second day of the heat, it was 116. I came in the driveway that night and seen the trees were basically cooking. Burnt down to nothing,” Hemphill said.

He said the losses will impact his farm revenue this year but hopes the 2022 season will improve.

“I mean, you just kind of got to roll with the punches, and replant next year… and hopefully make up for the loss that we’re gonna have in the future.”

Reuters spoke to several tree farm operators across the Willamette Valley who said the heat waves have severely damaged their crops.

On top of the heat waves, the Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon, spurred by months of drought, has burned nearly 400,000 acres and is likely to increase in size as no relief is in sight.

Oregon is the top-selling state of Christmas trees which are Douglas fir, Noble fir, Grand fir, and Nordmann fir. This could present supply constraints come December.

In other words, on the back of already record-high prices, consumers could shell out even more money this year for a Christmas tree if shortages materialize in Oregon. On top of the supply crunch, the cost of everything, from fuel to labor to transportation, has soared and will positively impact prices.

California Grid Strained As Power Shortfalls Loom

California Grid Strained As Power Shortfalls Loom

Amid another heat wave across the Western half of the US, California issued a stage-2 power-grid emergency alert Friday and urged customers to conserve power as temperatures surpassed 100 degrees, according to The Sacramento Bee.

The state’s grid operator, California Independent System Operator (ISO), issued the alert on Friday, which is one step away from rolling blackouts.

Readers may recall, as early as Tuesday, we outlined how “scorching temperatures return to the West, persisting through mid-week, and reappear this weekend.” By Friday, we gave the full breakdown of the second heat wave and its impact for the next several days, affecting upwards of 28 million people from California to Washington State.

Excessive heat warnings have already been posted for California, Nevada, western Arizona, and western Utah. Watches have also been posted for interior portions of Oregon and southern Idaho.

By late Friday, ISO discontinued the emergency, but with multiple 100-degree-plus days forecasted for Saturday and Sunday for Californians, the power grid operator may have to reissue grid alerts.

Large swaths of the West could experience temperatures 20 or more degrees above average. Below is a temperature anomalies forecast showing the heat dome could last through mid-next week

For those who are curious what “stage 2” means, power consumption is exceptionally high in the state, and the grid has become “reserve deficient,” allowing grid operators to resupply the grid with generators. If supply doesn’t meet demand, the next stage would be rolling blackouts to prevent the grid from collapse. The alert was the first in 2021 and was last declared in August 2020.

Making matters worse is a wildfire raging in southern Oregon and may threaten transmission lines bringing power into California.

The wildfire prompted California Gov. Gavin Newsom to issue an emergency proclamation to free up additional energy supplies.

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

PG&E Warns Of More Blackouts As California Wildfire Season Begins 

PG&E Warns Of More Blackouts As California Wildfire Season Begins 

It has been an arid spring in California, and that’s causing alarm with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executives who have said this week they will need more frequent power cuts to customers in Northern California to prevent wildfires.

PG&E’s chief risk officer Sumeet Singh told WSJ that California’s dry weather conditions could result in more rolling blackouts this year than last year. The company has trimmed trees away from powerlines and inspected the grid as the wildfire season began earlier this month.

June is typically the month the wildfire season in California begins. The state is already battling an extreme drought, and the first heat wave of the season hit last week. The risks of another heat wave are increasing for next week.

The hottest and most fire-prone months are nearing as a second heat wave of the season could arrive as early as next week.

How the season turns out may depend on the immediate climate in the state. Extreme heat and drought are several factors that may produce dry fuels and eventually spark fires.

“The fuel moisture levels … are about a month or two months ahead of schedule,” Strenfel told Sacramento Bee. “They’re at a state where they’re typically this dry in mid-July, and we’re seeing them in June. We’re a month ahead of schedule, if not two months, in terms of fire danger.”

Singh told WSJ, “the big, big variable that’s unpredictable here is the wind. But in all the forecasts that we’ve done, we do not see ourselves getting back to the same kind of [power shut-off] events like we saw in 2019.”

Already, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared 41 of the state’s 58 counties are in a drought, with much of the state in an “extreme drought” and portions in an “exceptional drought.”

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

Wildfires Are Contaminating Drinking Water Systems, and It’s More Widespread Than People Realize

Wildfires Are Contaminating Drinking Water Systems, and It’s More Widespread Than People Realize
Fire in one part of a community can contaminate the water system used by other residents, as Santa Rosa, California, discovered after the Tubbs Fire. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

More than 58,000 fires scorched the United States last year, and 2021 is on track to be even drier. What many people don’t realize is that these wildfires can do lasting damage beyond the reach of the flames – they can contaminate entire drinking water systems with carcinogens that last for months after the blaze. That water flows to homes, contaminating the plumbing, too.

Over the past four years, wildfires have contaminated drinking water distribution networks and building plumbing for more than 240,000 people.

Small water systems serving housing developments, mobile home parks, businesses and small towns have been particularly hard-hit. Most didn’t realize their water was unsafe until weeks to months after the fire.

The problem starts when wildfire smoke gets into the system or plastic in water systems heats up. Heating can cause plastics to release harmful chemicals, like benzene, which can contaminate drinking water and permeate the system.

As an environmental engineer, I and my colleagues work with communities recovering from wildfires and other natural disasters. Last year, at least seven water systems were found to be contaminated, suggesting drinking water contamination may be a more widespread problem than people realize.

Our new study identifies critical issues that households and businesses should consider after a wildfire. Failing to address them can harm people’s health – mental, physical and financial.

Wildfires make drinking water unsafe

When wildfires damage water distribution pipes, wells and the plumbing in homes and other buildings, they can create immediate health risks…

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

California Wildfires Cover 1 Million Acres In A Week As Storms Expected To Fan Flames

In the course of just one week, wildfires blazing across the state of California have burned through nearly one million acres statewide, destroying hundreds of homes ahead of an expected storm system heading toward the state that could bring more high winds and lightning strikes.

Two clusters of wildfires in the Bay Area have grown to become the second- and third-largest wildfires in recent state history by size.

Light winds and cooler and more humid nighttime weather helped fire crews make progress on those fires and a third group of fires south of San Francisco ahead of the forecast of warm, dry weather, erratic wind gusts and lightning, state fire officials said.

Weary firefighters in California raced Saturday to slow the spread of the blazes as President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration to provide federal assistance. Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement that the declaration will also help people in counties affected by the fires with crisis counseling, housing and other social services.

Calm weather overnight allowed firefighters to make progress against a trio of massive wildfires burning in Northern California, but they were bracing for a weather system Sunday that will bring high winds and thunderstorms that could spark new fires and fan existing blazes that destroyed nearly 1,000 homes and other structures and forced tens of thousands to evacuate.

Source: The Guardian

The “complexes,” or groups of fires, burning on all sides of the San Francisco Bay Area, were initially sparked  by lightning strikes – some of roughly 12,000 strikes registered in the state in the past week. The National Weather Service issued a “red flag” warning through Monday afternoon for the drought-stricken areas across the Bay Area, meaning extreme fire conditions, including high temperatures, low humidity and wind gusts up to 65 mph “may result in dangerous and unpredictable fire behavior.”

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

“Dire Circumstances”: Aussie Wildfires Intensify After Killing Half A Billion Animals; Record Numbers Evacuate

“Dire Circumstances”: Aussie Wildfires Intensify After Killing Half A Billion Animals; Record Numbers Evacuate

The brushfires raging across Australia which have killed an estimated 480 million animals have intensified over the last 12 hours, according to NASA, causing a record number of residents evacuate as forecasters predict worsening conditions.

Authorities on Friday urged evacuations for Australians living in parts of New South Wales and Victoria to avoid brushfires which are expected to rage out of control over the weekend. Temperatures in the area topped 104 F across much of the state, and no end to the destruction is currently in sight. According to NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance, this is “the largest evacuation of people out of the region ever.”

I would love some big creators to help raise awareness for our beautiful country. AUSTRALIA is on fire, and we need all the help we can get. 500m animals dead. Thousands stranded on beaches. Pls RT with link to @RedCrossAUpic.twitter.com/2CwHp4CqRi— Pia (@piamuehlenbeck) January 3, 2020

Conditions are set to mirror or even deteriorate beyond what we saw on New Year’s Eve,” said the Bureau of Meteorology’s Jonathan How, adding that strong and dry winds would pick up over the weekend.

Over 1,300 homes have been destroyed, while 17 deaths have been reported.

In a harbinger of the searing conditions expected, a number of fires burnt out of control in South Australia as temperatures topped 40 degrees C (104 F) across much of the state and strong winds fanned flames.

Victoria declared a state of disaster across areas home to about 100,000 people, with authorities urging people to evacuate before a deterioration expected on Saturday. –Reuters

…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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