Climate Change This Week: Blown Away, Cool Houses, and More!

Today, the Earth got a little hotter, and a little more crowded.

Forest not only store carbon but beautiful and equally crucial biodiversity, such as this red eyed frog on a brilliant bromeliad. Credit Cheryl Schneider

Forests: the cheapest way to store carbon

OO Forests Play Crucial Role In Climate Change, Economic Development – said experts at a recent World Forestry Congress, and should be recognized as “more than trees.”


OO Shade Grown Coffee: A Good Climate Move – says scientists and world leaders, as preserving the tall trees lessens deforestation and keeps carbon stored in them.


Toxic Storm: In Mongolia, winds often whip up a vast expanse of toxic radioactive waste, dumping millions of tonnes of it towards villages. Credit Frederic J Brown at AFP, Getty Images

OO Land Degradation, Much from Climate Change,
Costs The World Up To $10.6 Trillion Yearly
a new report says – equal to 17% of the blogal bross domestic product.


Blown Away? Biocrust (foreground) protects the soil of semi-arid ecosystems from wind. Needles, Canyonlands National Park. Credit Bill Bowman, University of Colorado

OO Drylands, 40% of Earth’s Land, To Be Blown Away
By Climate Change –
Think BIG Dust Storms
warn worried scientists. Biocrusts, thin layers of hardy mosses, lichens, and other species, store carbon and protect soils from blowing away in semi-arid to desert lands, but a new study shows that continued heating will damage them greatly – imagine much of it looking like the Sahara….

Sahara: No Biocrust Means Gigantic Dust Storms that are seen from space – and plumes of it are often wafted across oceans to other countries. Now imagine US semi-arid lands going that way…. the dust storm shown hit Phoenix AZ in July 2011. Sources shutterstock, L; Daniel Bryant, R


A Beautiful, Clean City: Stockholm, Sweden, is over 90 % fossil free. Source

OO Cities Worldwide Using Less Fossil Fuels:
50+ Get 75% From Clean Energy
– says the 2015 Global Cities Report, marking significant progress towards a cleaner world. Takeaways:

  • As huge consumers, cities are big opportunities to cut emissions;
  • Cities see cutting emissions as a big economic opportunity
  • Cutting fossil fuels provides private investment opportunities
  • Cities can drive a global shift away from fossil fuels


OO The Cities That Are Replacing
The Most Fossil Fuels With Renewables

The 2015 CDP Cities Report chronicles significant progress in many cities that are replacing dirty fossil fuels with clean renewable energy. Source

OO Carbon Pricing Schemes Double Since 2012 In Climate Fight says the World Bank, but most taxes or markets have prices too low to prevent damaging global warming.

OO Israel Approves Greenhouse Emissions Reduction Plan


Credit Julie Jacobson/AP

OO Obama Announces $120M Climate Plan Yess!! Thank you, Mr. President!!!


The Eiffel Tower has a wind turbine, but clean energy alone isn’t enough, and the weak national pledges expected at the December 2015 climate talks in Paris won’t avoid catastrophic global warming.

OO UN: Paris Climate Summit Pledges Won’t Avoid Catastrophic Warming to 2°C, the U.N.’s climate chief and UK government sources warn.


It’s Cloudy – But Still Dry as global warming contributes to California’s long drought, says a daily forecast at, a new website launched by Climate Central, giving the weather within the context of climate change trends and projections. Source

OO Local Weather In a Global Warming World:
A New Weather Website

“This is just putting weather and climate data together. There’s no spin to it.”

  • daily US local weather forecast within a climate change context
  • studded with short videos, great graphics
  • explore the menu of climage change indicators
  • tutorials – eg, dewpoint… who knew?
  • Climate change news, and more!

Bookmark this page for your local weather – and climate change effects!


Sierra Nevada’s Snowpack At A 500-Year Low. No wonder why skiers, hikers, farmers, forests, and virtually every other living thing in California are feeling the effects.

OO California: Sierra Nevada Mtns At Epic, 500-Year Snow Low – as a climate-change enhanced drought continues to drain the state dry.

A western wildfire rages. Source AP

OO The California Wildfires: An Escalating Crisis


OO Global Warming’s Health Impacts Hit Arizona – as drought and wildfires impact air quality and heat takes its toll: increased disease, death and health costs.

OO When Climate Change Meets Clean Energy:
CA Wildfire Damages Geothermal Utility

OO The Forest Service Had To Divert Another $250 Million To Fight Wildfires

Lake Powell, CA 2012 and 2014. Source

OO Lake Powell’s Receding Waters Show Risk Of US ‘Megadrought’

OO LA Faces An El Nino Winter of Fiery and Rainy extremes – as a recent intense downpour portends, say forecasters.


El Norte, Ho! the causes are social now, for these Central American migrants, but could be climate driven later. Source The Washington Post

OO Climate-Forced Migrations And Prospect Of Refugee Crises Concern Experts as social conditions are blamed for already driving thousands of children into Texas from Central America in 2014. But analysts warn it could get much worse under continued global warming.


OO Gov. Brown: Climate Change Could Inundate California
With Latin American Migrants


Wuhan: Beauty and the Polluted Beast – show the two possibilities for this Chinese city, which pledges to curb its emissions. Sources Stringer at Reuters, L;, R

OO Chinese Cities Pledge Early Carbon Emissions Peak Under Deal With US – before China’s national target of 2030.



OO A Hot Topic for the Paris 2015 Talks:
A Record Hot August Worldwide
as a giant El Niño event builds, with August easily the hottest in 124 years of data, says Japan’s Meteorological Agency.


Coal Kills as its air pollution prematurely kills millions of people each year. And there’s an obvious fix – stop burning it!

OO The Enormous Social Cost Of Cheap Coal:
3+ Million Deaths Annually
– including 55,000 US deaths, both stats set to double by 2050, unless we stop burning coal, says a new analysis.


OO US And Australian Taxpayers Pay Billions A Year To Fund Coal – says a new report.


Credit Eugene Garcia at AP

OO Wind Industry Says It Could Supply 25% Of EU Electricity By 2030 if member states come good on energy and climate pledges, said an industry report.


Bye-Bye Birdies? Hundreds more of England’s most important wildlife sites are now at risk from fracking after 1,000 square miles were opened to the controversial technology, says a new analysis. Credit John Giles at PA

OO Britian: New Fracking Licenses Threaten Hundreds Of Key English Wildlife Sites


Greening the Mall – People aren’t shopping much at this Silicon Valley mall, so they’re turning it into a green, walkable neighborhood.

OO California: World’s Largest Green Roof
To Sit On Top Of Dying Mall
– as it gets transformed into a green leafy wonder.


Credit Tom Toles at the Washington Post

OO Pure Greed: Exxon Put Profits Before Truth on Climate,
Misled Public 20+ Years
– Exxon knew the impact of burning fossil fuels on climate from its own research, which it stopped, then promptly funded climate denying organizations, once executives realized resulting policies would harm company profits.

Exxon’s Richard D. Keil does not deny funding deniers but insists, “ExxonMobil scientists have been involved in climate research and related policy analysis for more than 30 years.” Funding it equaled a tiny 0.3% of their profits from selling climate changing fuel. Gee, thanks, Dick!


Credit Mike Keefe at the Denver Post

OO Atlantic Ocean Excited To Move Into Beautiful Beachfront Mansion Soon! reports the satrap of satire, The Onion. I’m sure we’ll all be SO excited when it does so, too!


An ultra efficient affordable housing building that fools tenants into thinking it’s air-conditioned. Credit Mark Peterson for Politico

OO The Utra-Efficient House That Could Make a Climatic Difference – relying on creating an air-tight envelope via insulation and triple paned windows, these homes use 80% less energy than a standard house – and redefine how we live in a heating world.



OO ‘America is not a planet’ & Other Reasons
Why GOP Candidates Avoid Climate Action
as they debate. No, America is ON a planet — an ever hotter one. Rubio says the economy must come first – not realizing that climate action will benefit it.


Louis Masai’s Art Spreads the Buzz on how humans, via global warming and other pathways, are contributing to the dramatic decline of these vital pollinators.

OO To Bee Or Not To Bee: Ask Not For Whom the Bee Toils – oh, alright, I’ll tell you – they do it for themselves and us: without their pollination, we’re minus many important fruits, nuts and vegetables. Louis Masai uses art to communicate the problem of bees’ decline and spur solutions.


Wind and Wave Power can help Britain go fossil fuel free.

OO 85% Of British Power Can Be Via Renewables By 2030 if it undergoes significant changes in energy production and use, says a new study.



If we do not grow sustainably,
Our children will die inhumanely.


Recognize when the news involves overpopulation, but doesn’t mention it.

And there are many more actions you can do, right here.




OO Vice President Biden To Special-Interests: Stop Stifling Solar Market Growth

OO California Climate Law: an $8.6 Billion Opportunity for Solar Utilities in terms of investment, and could be as much as $10 billion.

OO CA: $1 Billion Devoted To Spreading Solar Energy to Poor Communities

Source Green MPs on Flickr

OO Solar, State By State – Takeaways:

  • Solar power spreads in North Carolina, as South Carolina begins creating solar incentive programs.
  • Alabama approved a utility’s request to install 500 MW of renewable energy capacity.
  • Virginia launched a $20 million loan program to increase energy efficiency and clean renewable energy.
  • California’s new law mandates a 50% increase in building efficiency, and 50% of electricity come from clean renewable sources by 2030; the solar tax credit was extended and the state will divest from coal.
  • In Nevada, a utility proposes to launch a community solar subscription program.
  • Washington state added $40 million to its Clean Energy Fund.

OO Tax Breaks Drive Vermont’s Solar Gold Rush – the US solar industry is booming due to multibillion-dollar federal tax breaks, and developers are eyeing Vermont because of its additional cash incentives.



Check it out here, right now!



OO Commercial PACE Projects Get $200 million in Funding – as funding expands for smaller commercial projects.



Speaking Out:


The Act on Climate national bus tour is stopping in areas worst affected by high pollution and social inequality, driving the message that urban communities and people of color are most afflicted by climate change.

OO People’s Climate Music Hip Hop Tour
Brings Diversity To Climate Change Fight

OO Canada: Activists, Artists Back A Call To End Fossil Fuel Use to shift the economy to a sustainable, fossil fuel-free one.

OO Obama Administration Facing More Opposition To Atlantic Drilling Plans



Fossil Fuel Follies

Seashells and the US economy are better off without oil.

OO Crude Prices Could Stay Low for 15 Years say experts, exposing how fossil fuels make us dependent on the Middle East – let’s declare a clean energy revolution!

OO How Shale Oil Can Kill via volatile train transport that create lethal catastrophic explosions. Time to change.

OO Shale Drillers Spending Most of their Cash Paying Off High Debt showing how unreliable the industry is in supplying good long term jobs, besides promoting harmful climate change.




Daily Climate Change: Global Map of Unusual Temperatures, Sep 29, 2015

How unusual has the weather been? No one event is “caused” by climate change, but global warming, which is predicted to increase unusual, extreme weather, is having a daily effect on weather, worldwide.

Looking above at recent temperature anomalies, much of the US and the waters surrounding it, are experiencing warmer than normal temperatures: the eastern Pacific warm spot continues to prevent much rain from reaching California, sending it into further drought. Even whales are washing up on the west coast, as warm waters shift their food sources towards the coast, putting whales on a collision path with ships.

Much of the areas surrounding the North Pole are experiencing much warmer than normal temperatures – not good news for our Arctic thermal shield of ice. Hotter than usual temperatures continue to dominate human habitats.


There is, of course, much more news on the consequences and solutions to climate change. To get it, check out this annotated resource list I’ve compiled, “Climate Change News Resources,” at here. For more information on the science of climate change, its consequences and solutions you can view my annotated list of online information resources here.

To help you understand just what science does and does NOT do, check this out!

Every day is Earth Day, folks, as I was reminded by these fringed gentians I photographed one summer. Making the U.S. a global clean energy leader will ensure a heck of a lot more jobs, and a clean, safe future. If you’d like to join the increasing numbers of people who want to TELL Congress that they will vote for clean energy candidates you can do so here. It’s our way of letting Congress know there’s a strong clean energy voting bloc out there. For more detailed summaries of the above and other climate change items, audio podcasts and texts are freely available.


Source Article from

U.N. Serves World Leaders Food Scraps For Lunch

The goal of the lunch was to highlight the role of food waste as an “overlooked aspect of climate change,” Ban said at a press conference Sunday. The meal was served to the world leaders after they adopted  17 new Sustainable Development Goals Friday, and created 169 targets, to hit by 2030, which focus heavily on the need to tackle climate change and end poverty and hunger worldwide.

The leaders will head to Paris to further these talks at the U.N. Climate Change Conference from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

Manufacturing, distributing and consuming food, and disposing of food uses energy, which mostly come from fossil fuels, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and by extension global warming, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Energy used in food production and by the agricultural industry contributes as much to climate change as transportation does, Ban noted in his statement.

Yet, over one billion tons of edible food — or over one-third of all the food produced in the world — is wasted as it rots in fields, spoils in markets or is simply thrown away when consumers buy too much, National Geographic reported in January.

The amount of food wasted in the world is “shameful when so many suffer from hunger,” Ban said. 

Source Article from

Scientists propose polar protection plan

Adelie chick

International scientists have proposed a new pathway for saving the Arctic and Antarctic from their greatest menace – climate change.

The world should tackle immediate threats like pollution, over-fishing and invasive species in both the northern and southern to boost their ability to withstand , a new study from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) proposes.

“Climate change remains the greatest threat to the Arctic and Antarctic – but there is much we can do right now to alleviate its impact on the polar regions,” says Dr Joseph Bennett of CEED and Carleton University, Canada.

“In the Arctic, melting sea ice is reducing habitat for ice-dependent wildlife like polar bears. Higher temperatures at both poles may also lead to the decline of .”

But until the that drive can be reduced by worldwide action – a process which may take decades – addressing other threats that currently plague both poles can help conserve the polar regions in the short to medium term, Dr Bennett says.

Despite being at opposite ends of the Earth, the Arctic and Antarctic share many characteristics that make them vulnerable to the same threats, he says. “Both poles are fragile because their low temperatures delay their recovery from disturbances, and both may become more attractive for natural resource exploitation, as more accessible resources elsewhere are depleted.”

Adelie penguins

Polar fisheries have come under pressure, with some fish stocks severely depleted, Dr Bennett says. Many Arctic fish stocks have been overfished, and future climate change and over-exploitation elsewhere will increase pressure on fisheries resources at both poles,” he warns.

Additional common threats also include chemicals transported in air and by ocean currents, which concentrate in polar regions due to the cold temperatures. Apart from reducing the fertility of polar wildlife, these chemicals affect the ability of birds to raise healthy chicks.

Furthermore the increase in oil drilling and transport in the Arctic raises the risk of major spills, while the thawing of permafrost in the Arctic may damage storage facilities and pipelines that are either anchored to or resting on ice or permafrost, increasing the risk of local oil pollution.

Both ecosystems are also invaded by invasive land and marine species, which are introduced by human visitors. “For example, 24 per cent of visitors to Antarctica accidentally transport seeds on their clothes and equipment,” says Dr Justine Shaw, Research Fellow from the University of Queensland.

Dr Bennett says the best way to tackle all the threats is to share what has been learned at either pole.

Walruses come ashore

“A good example is how the technology that was developed to clean up pollution in the Arctic is being transferred to the Antarctic. The next step is improving spill prevention programs in both polar regions.

“To slow the spread of in the Arctic, we should adapt biosecurity measures used in the Antarctic at key entry points in the far north,” adds Dr Shaw.

The study also notes that new information on emerging pollutants should be quickly shared between both hemispheres, given how these chemicals accumulate at the poles. Swift reductions or bans can then be implemented in both hemispheres before contamination becomes serious.

Polar bear, Wrangel Island

“We should also encourage international cooperation on fisheries protection in both polar environments,” says Dr Bennett. “Currently there aren’t enough Marine Protected Areas in the Arctic, and we need more effective regulation of new fishing areas to ensure that the stocks are properly maintained.

“Sharing and incorporating lessons learned between poles will help to successfully respond to these challenges – and help keep the polar regions intact as humanity comes to grips with preventing global warming.”

Explore further:
Global warming affects Artic and Antarctic regions differently

More information:
“Polar lessons learned: long-term management based on shared threats in Arctic and Antarctic environments.” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13: 316–324.

Source Article from

Liberal professors urge Obama to target climate change skeptics with RICO act while ignoring mafia tactics of Monsanto, Big Pharma

(NaturalNews) You can always tell a liberal from a constitutionalist: the latter believes in the nation’s founding principles and the rule of law as is; the former wants to use laws, statutes, courts or presidential authority to force others to accept their point of view.

That is the only way to explain why left-leaning university professors are pressing President Obama to use his executive authority to punish anyone who does not accept at face value so-called “climate change science” that has been manipulated, changed, and intentionally skewed in the past, all to support a specific de-growth, anti-capitalist agenda.

Climate Change Dispatch, a website dedicated to spreading the word about climate hoaxes and faulty climate data, reports that although there has been no real rise in global temperatures for nearly two decades, about two dozen scientists from major universities are pressing Obama to punish climate skeptics using RICO laws – the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act statutes passed in 1970 to combat organized crime (such as the old Mafia).

In a letter addressed to the president, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren, the group of scientists wrote that they “appreciate that you are making aggressive and imaginative use of the limited tools available to you in the face of a recalcitrant Congress.”

Tobacco-like cover-up?

However, “one additional tool” – which has been proposed by liberal Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island – is to conduct a RICO investigation of corporations and other organizations they charge have knowingly deceived the American public about the so-called risks of climate change “as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change,” they wrote.

The scientists charged that critics’ actions have already been documented in other publications.

“The methods of these organizations are quite similar to those used earlier by the tobacco industry. A RICO investigation (1999 to 2006) played an important role in stopping the tobacco industry from continuing to deceive the American people about the dangers of smoking,” the scientists said.

“If corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters are guilty of the misdeeds that have been documented in books and journal articles, it is imperative that these misdeeds be stopped as soon as possible so that America and the world can get on with the critically important business of finding effective ways to restabilize the Earth’s climate, before even more lasting damage is done,” they wrote.

No smoke

In a Washington Post commentary piece last year, Whitehouse charged that the fossil fuel industry was out to deceive the American public, and as such, he argued that such activity amounted to “a racketeering enterprise.”

He alleged the “parallels between what the tobacco industry did and what the fossil fuel industry is doing now are striking,” adding that the tobacco industry – which indeed hid the ill health effects of smoking – “joined together in a common enterprise and coordinated strategy.”

“The fossil fuel industry, its trade associations and the conservative policy institutes that often do the industry’s dirty work met at the Washington office of the American Petroleum Institute,” the senator wrote.

“A memo from that meeting that was leaked to the New York Times documented their plans for a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign to undermine climate science and to raise ‘questions among those (e.g. Congress) who chart the future U.S. course on global climate change.'”

Whitehouse was finally forced to admit that he was doing nothing but slinging allegations because he had no real evidence to offer.

“To be clear: I don’t know whether the fossil fuel industry and its allies engaged in the same kind of racketeering activity as the tobacco industry. We don’t have enough information to make that conclusion. … But there’s an awful lot of smoke,” he wrote.

Using the law to punish political opponents

Meanwhile, despite the dearth of scientific evidence that global warming/climate change/climate disruption even exists as the Left claims it does, there is real evidence to suggest that climate scientists have indeed manipulated their climate data in order to “prove” that global warming was real and that human activities were causing it.

NASA scientists have also been caught manipulating data by climate skeptic Paul Homewood.

Then, there is the fact that no one on the Left – or in Congress in general – is recommending using RICO to punish bio-ag giant Monsanto and Big Pharma for using Mafioso tactics to strong-arm critics and whistleblowers, as Natural News has reported.

There are definitely cases where U.S. racketeering laws are appropriate, but not in cases where those who call for them are only trying to silence and/or punish political opponents.

Sources include:

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This Week Brought #ActionsforClimate — But Still Not Enough

The last few days have, for once, seen world leaders and the global media focused on the big issues of our time: poverty, inequality and the dangers of climate change. President Obama admitted he acted too late on climate change and agreed with China’s President Xi Jinping on very significant – if still insufficient – additional actions. The Pope called on governments to act, not just declare that they will, the UN agreed on a new to-do list for humanity, including giving energy access to all via more renewable energy and calling for an end to deforestation. Some 30 world leaders agreed at climate lunch that more needs to be done to shift to renewable energy and that they must agree in Paris on a long term clean energy vision. At the same time, thousands around the world joined the latest action day to put additional pressure on governments and businesses to act.

Not too bad for one weekend! There is clear momentum to take #ActionsonClimate on the road to the Paris climate summit later this year – and, crucially, beyond. The climate crisis will require us to act courageously going forward, independent of what exactly world leaders decide at #COP21.

But the last few days have also often left me feeling uncomfortable. There was a mood of self-congratulation in New York. Governments and business suggested in their speeches that all is under control, that we are already on track to solve the big issues and that all are united in doing the right thing.

I wish that was true, but I know it is not. There is still so much hypocrisy in the announcements of so many governments, as my friend, Salil Shetty, the head of Amnesty International, pointed out in his powerful speech the UN summit. We still face too many vested interests that stand in the way of a clean and safe future. Too many governments are turning a blind eye to corporate abuses that poison us – as the Volkswagen scandal has once again exposed in recent days. President Obama, in crass contradiction to his fine words, is still allowing Shell to drill for more oil in the Arctic – oil that must remain in the ground. And while we know that there are no technical and economic barriers to achieving 100% renewables for all by 2050 worldwide, even progressive governments this weekend only committed to decarbonization by the end of this century. By which time it will be too late.

We must redouble our efforts. We must expose these contradictions. We must tell the stories of real transformation that are already underway, stories like this one from Canada, where the community of Little Buffalo, in the heart of the oil rich tar sands, decided to forge a new future and become powered by the sun.

Tune in to the Social Goods Summit Livestream tomorrow to hear me speak about the acts of courage we must take now at the Social Goods summit.

Source Article from

‘I oppose it:’ Hillary Clinton comes out against Keystone XL pipeline

I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone XL pipeline as what I believe it is: A distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change, and, unfortunately from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward and deal with other issues,” Clinton said during a campaign event in Iowa Tuesday, according to NBC News.

Therefore, I oppose it. I oppose it because I don’t think it’s in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change.”

The announcement was met with applause from her campaign supporters.

TransCanada issued a statement after the announcement, without referring to Clinton.

“Our focus remains on securing a permit to build Keystone XL. 17,000 pages of scientific study have concluded the Keystone XL would have minimal impact on the environment,” the statement read. “[The State Department’s] Final Supplemental Environment Impact Statement concluded that greenhouse-gas emissions would be 28 to 42 percent lower with the pipeline.”

TransCanada added that Keystone XL would help create over 40,000 jobs and generate $2 billion in earnings.

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush dinged Clinton on Twitter.

As secretary of state, Clinton was reticent to give her opinion on the project, and she postponed offering an opinion in July as President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry reviewed the pipeline’s environmental impact.

The pipeline was first proposed in 2008. If approved, it would carry oil 1,179 miles from Canada’s tar sands to Nebraska, where it would connect to an existing pipeline and continue traveling south.

In 2012, Obama vetoed a proposal supporting the pipeline, but TransCanada Corp subsequently reapplied for another permit.

Environmentalists have urged the president to reject it again, arguing that the pipeline would make it easier to drill for oil in Canada’s tar sands – a dirty process which in and of itself burns a lot of energy. The State Department is also seeking input from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department on the project’s potential environmental ramifications

The project has also sparked opposition from Native American tribes, particularly those living on the Nebraska land that the pipeline is expected to run through.

Supporters argue that building the pipeline will create jobs and boost the United States’ energy independence. However, only some 50 people would be required to maintain it after construction.

The fact is, Keystone would create only 35 permanent jobs – a drop in the bucket,” said Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). “A fried chicken franchise creates about as many jobs.”

Source Article from

Is climate change killing American starfish?

Ochre sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus), also called starfish, are seen in the tidepools of Kalaloch Beach 3 in the Olympic Nationa
Ochre sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus), also called starfish, are seen in the tidepools of Kalaloch Beach 3 in the Olympic National Park, near Forks, Washington

On the remote rocky shores of the western United States, low tide brings visitors to wave-splashed tide pools to marvel at ocean wonders usually hidden from view.

But recently, largely missing from the bounty are the biggest draw: a rainbow-hued array of starfish.

“I don’t know what you would call it other than catastrophic,” says Drew Harvell, a biologist at Cornell University, describing what is widely regarded as one of the worst marine disease events ever recorded.

“It’s staggering, really, the millions of stars that have died. It is not apocalyptic or extreme to say that.”

In recent years, millions of the starfish, also called sea stars, have had their legs curl up and pull away from their bodies, breaking the animals to pieces before they turn to mush, often in a matter of days.

Scientists have been left racing to figure out why.

Once densely packed onto the rocks and on the ocean floor, the key predators are simply missing from some locations, their numbers cut by 95 percent or more.

The phenomenon, called Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, was first noticed by rangers in Olympic National Park in Washington state in 2013.

It has now been documented from California to Alaska, and led to die-off that is bigger and more widely spread than any seen before.

Late last year, a group of researchers published findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences saying they had found strong evidence that a virus was causing the disease.

An ochre sea star (Pisaster ochraceus), commonly called a starfish, sick with Sea Star Wasting syndrome is the tidepools of Kala
An ochre sea star (Pisaster ochraceus), commonly called a starfish, sick with Sea Star Wasting syndrome is the tidepools of Kalaloch Beach 3 in the Olympic National Park, near Forks, Washington

Researchers now are looking into why the virus is suddenly so much more widespread and deadly. A primary consideration is how warmer water, brought about by climate change, is affecting the stars, the virus and the wider ecosystem.

“There are components that certainly track with temperature,” Harvell said. “We think the magnitude in our waters is due to temperature. We know that under warmer conditions, they die faster.”

“We’ve had anomalously warm oceans for the last two years. Really, what we would call hot water. It is really the dominant thing to consider,” she said.

Data collection difficult

A primary challenge for researchers is simply the massive amount of data needed to get a good understanding of what is happening. The animals are found on thousands and thousands of miles of coastline, and sufficient funding is simply not available to thoroughly count them and consider all the possible variables.

But scientists are nevertheless trying.

They are tracking the numbers of stars in locations over time, gauging the temperature and chemistry of the water, and logging the data as part of ongoing research into the ecosystem. They are even recruiting “citizen scientists” to help search for the stars and record their condition.

Melissa Miner, a researcher with the University of California at Santa Cruz, is one of the people leading the , but said the widespread nature of the outbreak adds to the challenge.

“It is pretty difficult to collect the data we need on a big scale,” she said. “I really want to stress that it isn’t understood at all what it is causing this disease.”

An Ochre sea star (Pisaster ochraceus), also called starfish, is seen in the tidepools of Kalaloch Beach 3 in the Olympic Nation
An Ochre sea star (Pisaster ochraceus), also called starfish, is seen in the tidepools of Kalaloch Beach 3 in the Olympic National Park, near Forks, Washington

Harvell agreed that money for the extensive research is scarce. It doesn’t help that the starfish are not an animal humans eat, and thus there is no industry raising the alarm about their decline.

“Out of sight, out of mind,” she said. “We need to be concerned about the health of our oceans. We could be so much farther ahead if there had been enough money available.”

Congressman Denny Heck, whose district in Washington state includes much of the inland waters where starfish have been dying off in huge numbers, is trying to help by establishing a framework for declaring a marine disease emergency. Such a declaration would come with money for research and possible recovery.

“When disease like this breaks out underwater, we have no established process to stop it,” Heck told AFP.

An ochre sea star, (Pisaster ochraceus), also called starfish, is seen at low tide on the beach in Bremerton, Washington
An ochre sea star, (Pisaster ochraceus), also called starfish, is seen at low tide on the beach in Bremerton, Washington

He has found allies on both coasts, as well as among his fellow Democrats and Republicans, as a disease outbreak could hit fisheries and devastate a local economy.

“We are encouraged by the response we’ve gotten from people across the country that care about a clean and sustainable marine environment,” he said.

Ochre sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus) sick with Sea Star Wasting syndrome are seen alongside healthy stars in the tidepools of Ka
Ochre sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus) sick with Sea Star Wasting syndrome are seen alongside healthy stars in the tidepools of Kalaloch Beach 3 in the Olympic National Park, near Forks, Washington

For her part, Miner is hopeful that the colorful have a high enough profile to draw attention to their demise.

“They are as charismatic as you can be as an intertidal species,” she said. “They are what connects people to ocean. The sea star is kind of the mascot of the intertidal.”

Explore further:
Mass sea star deaths off US west coast puzzle scientists

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Rising CO2 levels are re-greening Africa’s deserts, bringing abundance that lifts people out of poverty

(NaturalNews) Climate change, a phrase that typically instills fear in society, is being eyed by Arizona State University as something that could be beneficial. Contrary to those who view climate change as only having catastrophic consequences, experts from the university suggest that it is responsible for re-greening parts of the world and changing lives for the better.

Experts from the university engaged in a study that ultimately showed that the West African Sahel, the strip south of the Sahara desert, has been “regreening” ever since droughts in the 1970s and 80s killed more than 100,000 people. They maintain that increased rainfall caused by climate change has led to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which has spurred more plant growth and community-led farming efforts.

The region is turning around and experiencing a vast change from the drought and deaths that once plagued it. The area is greening, plants are growing, and people are coming together. These changes bring improvements in the physical and emotional well-being of the region’s inhabitants, which can ultimately bolster relationships and reverse poverty levels.

The journal that published this information, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), states that “…long-term satellite-derived greenness sensitivity to rainfall” was analyzed to better understand “…changing vegetation structure in different regions of the Sahel.”

According to the paper, “Our results show that remotely sensed vegetation greenness…has increased across the Sahel since the droughts of the 1970s and 1980s, consistent with increasing rainfall and earlier analyses.” The report was titled, “On regreening and degradation in Sahelian watersheds.”

Unfortunately, there are some people cling tightly to negative views about change of any kind, and climate change is no different. The alarmist web site DeSmog is one such outlet, and it is said to have jumped on Arizona State University’s Sahel findings. They vehemently stated that, “The greening is unreliable. It is thus hardly an encouraging example of a ‘positive impact’ from global warming.”

Perhaps in anticipation of naysayer attitudes like that of DeSmog, the PNAS paper states:

Meanwhile, in the popular press and often in the environmental and development literature, the reports of recovery are sometimes forgotten to the extent that popular opinion in the West – and indeed very often in Africa – holds fast to pessimistic images of overgrazing, degradation, sand storms, and sand-dunes “marching” south from the Sahara towards the sea. The differences in perception of recent changes highlight the need to quantify the extent of recovery (or otherwise) in Sahelian systems since the droughts of the 1970s and 1980s and the extent to which vegetation changes in the Sahel respond proportionally to climate variations.

Without a doubt, climate change is occurring.

In fact, at a 2014 World Meteorological Organization (WMO) conference attended by about 1,000 climate experts in Canada, there was much talk of significant climate changes that could be experienced by 2050. Gigantic waves, increased in-flight air turbulence, flash flooding, dramatic temperature surges, and superstorms are expected to become more commonplace. We’ve seen it already; areas that haven’t seen snow in many years – if ever – have suddenly been blanketed by it. Other regions are dealing with extreme cold or heat. The changes continue, and we must learn to change along with them.

Rather than adopting a fearful attitude, it might be best for society to focus on moving forward. Perhaps making an effort to work smarter and in tandem with climate changes instead of resisting them would improve life on the planet.

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20 scientists ask Obama to prosecute global warming skeptics


The science on global warming is settled, so settled that 20 climate scientists are asking President Barack Obama to prosecute people who disagree with them on the science behind man-made global warming.

Scientists from several universities and research centers even asked Obama to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to prosecute groups that “have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change.”

RICO was a law designed to take down organized crime syndicates, but scientists now want it to be used against scientists, activists and organizations that voice their disagreement with the so-called “consensus” on global warming. The scientists repeated claims made by environmentalists that groups, especially those with ties to fossil fuels, have engaged in a misinformation campaign to confuse the public on global warming.

“We strongly endorse Senator Whitehouse’s call for a RICO investigation,” the scientists wrote to Obama. “The methods of these organizations are quite similar to those used earlier by the tobacco industry. A RICO investigation (1999 to 2006) played an important role in stopping the tobacco industry from continuing to deceive the American people about the dangers of smoking.”

Comment: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse was forced to admit at the end of his op-ed that he didn’t actually know “whether the fossil fuel industry and its allies engaged in the same kind of racketeering activity as the tobacco industry.”

“If corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters are guilty of the misdeeds that have been documented in books and journal articles, it is imperative that these misdeeds be stopped as soon as possible so that America and the world can get on with the critically important business of finding effective ways to restabilize the Earth’s climate, before even more lasting damage is done,” the scientists added.

This year has been a trying one for global warming skeptics. Earlier this year, Democratic lawmakers began an investigation into scientists who disagreed with the White House’s stance on global warming. Many of these skeptical scientists were often cited by those critical of regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva went after universities employing these researchers, which resulted in one expert being forced to get out of the field of climate research altogether.

“I am simply not initiating any new research or papers on the topic and I have ring-fenced my slowly diminishing blogging on the subject,” Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. of the University of Colorado wrote on his blog.

“Congressman Grijalva doesn’t have any evidence of any wrongdoing on my part, either ethical or legal, because there is none,” Pielke wrote. “He simply disagrees with the substance of my testimony – which is based on peer-reviewed research funded by the US taxpayer, and which also happens to be the consensus of the IPCC (despite Holdren’s incorrect views).”

Comment: Grijalva’s accusation: “Prof. Roger Pielke, Jr., at CU’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress on climate change and its economic impacts. His 2013 Senate testimony featured the claim, often repeated, that it is “incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.” Dr. Pielke, Jr., stated: “I have no funding, declared or undeclared, with any fossil fuel company or interest. I never have (as was testified before the US Congress). I know with complete certainty that this investigation is a politically-motivated “witch hunt”…” Grijalva later rescinded his accusations stating his investigation may have been an “overreach.”

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Climate Skeptic Rupert Murdoch Just Bought National Geographic

The National Geographic magazine has been a nonprofit publication since inception in 1888, but that ends today. The long-running American publication becomes very much for-profit under a $725 million dollar deal announced today with 21st Century Fox, the entertainment company controlled by the family of Rupert Murdoch.

Murdoch is a notorious climate change denier, and his family’s Fox media empire is the world’s primary source of global warming misinformation. Which would be no big deal here, I guess, were it not for the fact that the National Geographic Society’s mission includes giving grants to scientists.

Or had you forgotten? Here’s a refresh for you, a fun little interview with Murdoch on his climate change views.

From today’s deal coverage in WaPo:

The partnership, which will also include the National Geographic cable channel and the National Geographic Society’s other media assets, will be called National Geographic Partners. Fox will own 73 percent of the partnership, and Washington-based National Geographic Society will own the balance. Fox will pay $725 million to the Society for its stake in the partnership. This will push the Society’s endowment to more than $1 billion.

Let the “National Geographic Covers Designed by Rupert Murdoch” Photoshop Wars begin.

More coverage: New York Times, Variety.

20-year Nat Geo vet Declan Moore becomes CEO. Gary Knell, president-CEO of the Society, will serve as the first chairman. Buried in the press announcement:

“The value generated by this transaction, including the consistent and attractive revenue stream that National Geographic Partners will deliver, ensures that we will have greater resources for this work, which includes our grant making programs that support scientists and explorers around the world,” Knell said. “As media organizations work to meet the increasing demand for high quality storytelling across multiple platforms, it’s clear that the opportunity to grow by more closely aligning our branded content and licensing assets is the right path. We now will have the scale and reach to continue to fulfill our mission long into the future. The Society’s work will be the engine that feeds our content creation efforts, enabling us to share that work with even larger audiences and achieve more impact. It’s a virtuous cycle.”

So Rupert Murdoch will be to some large extent controlling a $1 billion organization whose stated mission includes giving grants to scientists.

Rupert Murdoch is a raging asshole, but he is also a very much on-the-record climate change denier. A climate change denier with now even more power and influence over science grants in the United States.

A wall of National Geographic magazine covers at the 125th Anniversary Exhibit in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler)



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