Archive | March 2016

Pete Seeger’s Activism Just as Urgent (or more) Today Than It was in 1963, When Seeger Performed with his Audience at His Historic “We Shall Overcome Concert” in New York

 

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I listened to this live recording of Pete Seeger’s “We Shall Overcome Concert at Carnegie Hall, June 8, 1963” yesterday afternoon. The concert was recorded live by Columbia Records. I loved it. The concert shows just how much Black Lives Mattered to those good people who attended this historic event in our nation’s history. It is criminal that more has not been done to atone for the wrongs that were perpetuated by our government and the wealthy.

I’ve heard it said that Seeger was blacklisted by the government as a result doing the concert. I don’t know for a fact that that was the reason for his blacklisting but more than likely it was I would think.

Pete Seeger is still fighting “the good fight” that he was so effective at doing with the crowd over 50 years ago now – with this recording. It confirms the “Black Lives Matter” movement will live on until the spell is broken and reparations for slavery are awarded to an entire population who were used to make this country great but never given credit or paid properly for their generations upon generations of forced labor by the plantation owners.

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Lake Temperature Data Over Decades Show Warming

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Large, increasing methane emissions from northern lakes:

Methane is increasing in the atmosphere, but many sources are poorly understood. Lakes at high northern latitudes are such a source. However, this may change with a new study published in Nature Geoscience. By compiling previously reported measurements made at a total of 733 northern water bodies — from small ponds formed by beavers to large lakes formed by permafrost thaw or ice-sheets — researchers are able to more accurately estimate emissions over large scales.

“The release of methane from northern lakes and ponds needs to be taken seriously. These waters are significant, contemporary sources because they cover large parts of the landscape. They are also likely to emit even more methane in the future,” says Martin Wik, PhD student at the Department of Geological Sciences and Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, who led the study.

With climate warming, particularly at high northern latitudes, longer ice-free seasons in combination with permafrost thaw is likely to fuel methane release from lakes, potentially causing their emissions to increase 20-50 precent before the end of this century. Such a change would likely generate a positive feedback on future warming, causing emissions to increase even further.

“This means that efforts to reduce human induced warming are even more urgent in order to minimize this type of feedback of natural greenhouse gas emissions. In a sense, every reduction in emissions from fossil fuels is a double victory,” says David Bastviken, Professor at Tema Environmental Change, Linköping University.

Source: January 4, 2016 – Stockholm University, ScienceDaily.com.

Climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems, according to a study spanning six continents.

The study is the largest of its kind and the first to use a combination of satellite temperature data and long-term ground measurements. A total of 235 lakes, representing more than half of the world’s freshwater supply, were monitored for at least 25 years. The research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, was announced today at the American Geophysical Union meeting.

The study, which was funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation, found lakes are warming an average of 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit (0.34 degrees Celsius) each decade. That’s greater than the warming rate of either the ocean or the atmosphere, and it can have profound effects, the scientists say.

Algal blooms, which can ultimately rob water of oxygen, are projected to increase 20 percent in lakes over the next century as warming rates increase. Algal blooms that are toxic to fish and animals would increase by 5 percent. If these rates continue, emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide on 100-year time scales, will increase 4 percent over the next decade.

“Society depends on surface water for the vast majority of human uses,” said co-author Stephanie Hampton, director of Washington State University’s Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach in Pullman. “Not just for drinking water, but manufacturing, for energy production, for irrigation of our crops. Protein from freshwater fish is especially important in the developing world.”

The temperature of water influences a host of its other properties critical to the health and viability of ecosystems. When temperature swings quickly and widely from the norm, life forms in a lake can change dramatically and even disappear.

“‘These results suggest that large changes in our lakes are not only unavoidable, but are probably already happening,” said lead author Catherine O’Reilly, associate professor of geology at Illinois State University, Normal. Earlier research by O’Reilly has seen declining productivity in lakes with rising temperatures.

Temperature increases close to or above the average .61 degrees F rise were seen in some of the world’s most popular waters, including Lake Tahoe (+.97 F by hand, +1.28 by satellite), the Dead Sea (+1.13 F), two reservoirs serving New York City, Seattle’s Lake Washington (+.49 F), and the Great Lakes Huron (+1.53 F by hand, +.79 by satellite), Michigan (+.76 F by hand, +.36 by satellite), Ontario (+.59 F) and Superior (+2.09 F by hand measurement, +1.44 F by satellite).

Study co-author Simon Hook, science division manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said satellite measurements provide a broad view of lake temperatures over the entire globe. But they only measure surface temperature, while hand measurements can detect temperature changes throughout a lake. Also, while satellite measurements go back 30 years, some lake measurements go back more than a century.

“Combining the ground and satellite measurements provides the most comprehensive view of how lake temperatures are changing around the world,” he said.

The researchers said various climate factors are associated with the warming trend. In northern climates, lakes are losing their ice cover earlier, and many areas of the world have less cloud cover, exposing their waters more to the sun’s warming rays.

Previous work by Hook using satellite data indicated that many lake temperatures were warming faster than air temperature and that the greatest warming was observed at high latitudes, as seen in other climate warming studies. This new research confirmed those observations, with average warming rates of 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit (0.72 degrees Celsius) per decade at high latitudes.

Warm-water, tropical lakes may be seeing less dramatic temperature increases, but increased warming of these lakes can still have large negative impacts on fish. That can be particularly important in the African Great Lakes, where fish is an important source of food.

“We want to be careful that we don’t dismiss some of these lower rates of change,” said Hampton. “In warmer lakes, those temperature changes can be really important. They can be just as important as a higher rate of change in a cooler lake.”

In general, the researchers write, “The pervasive and rapid warming observed here signals the urgent need to incorporate climate impacts into vulnerability assessments and adaptation efforts for lakes.”

The Great Lakes are some of the world’s fastest warming lakes.

The decline of Great Lakes ice cover over the past several decades is contributing significantly to the rate of increase of summer water temperature, the study said.

The data also shows the world’s lakes are warming faster than the air around the lakes.

The study, published in the Geophysical Research Letters, finds that Lake Superior is warming the fastest of any of the Great Lakes.

The downside to warming waters is a more rapidly changing Great Lakes ecology. Warmer waters can negatively effect some native Great Lakes species, and increase invasive species.

Lake Superior is warming at a rate of 2.1°F per decade, according to the study.

Northern Lake Michigan is warming 0.4°F per decade, while southern Lake Michigan is warming at 0.76°F.

Northern Lake Huron is warming faster than southern Lake Huron. Northern Lake Huron is warming at a rate of 1.5°F and southern Lake Huron .79°F.

Lake Ontario is warming at .59°F per decade.

Lake Erie has been the slowest to warm at 0.15°F per decade.

The study looked at data from 1985 to 2009. It used satellite data, and actual water and air temperature measurements from buoys on the Great Lakes.

One would think the water would warm at the same rate as the air above it. The study showed this is not the case. Great Lakes water temperatures are actually rising about 50 percent faster than the overlying air temperatures.

An increasing number of ice-free days on each Great Lake are a major culprit in the warming, the study said. Lack of ice causes summer stratification of the water to occur earlier in the summer. Once summer stratification occurs, Great Lakes waters can warm faster on the surface.

Summer stratification means the water is warmer on the top surface of a lake, and then gets colder in gradually deeper water. This stratification develops during the spring and early summer. Coming out of winter, the surface water is coldest, and maybe ice covered, and the water gets warmer as you go to deeper depths. The temperature pattern then flip-flops heading into summer.

An older study found that this summer stratification is occurring nearly 14 days earlier in the last 27 years.

Although 2.1°F warming over a decade may not sound like a lot, that’s a 4.5°F water temperature rise on Lake Superior since 1979.

The study exemplifies the interdisciplinary work of WSU’s Grand Challenges, areas of research addressing some of society’s most complex issues. The study is also in keeping with the theme of the challenge “Sustainable Resources: Food, Energy, and Water,” which will develop strategies that link optimized agricultural practices, water management, and energy production.

Sources:
Washington State University – reported in ScienceDaily.com
Mark Torregrossa | mtorregr@mlive.com

150-year global ice record reveals major warming trend
September 7, 2000 By Brian Mattmiller

Sources as diverse as newspaper archives, transportation ledgers and religious observances, scientists have amassed lake and river ice records spanning the Northern Hemisphere that show a steady 150-year warming trend.

The study, which includes 39 records of either freeze dates or breakup dates from 1846 to 1995, represents one of the largest and longest records of observable climate data ever assembled. University limnologist John Magnuson led a team of 13 co-authors who contributed to the report, to be published in the Sept. 8 issue of the journal Science.

Sites ranges from Canada, Europe, Russia and Japan. Of those, 38 indicate a consistent warming pattern. The average rate of change over the 150-year period was 8.7 days later for freeze dates; and 9.8 days earlier for breakup dates. A smaller collection of records going well past 150 years also show a warming trend, at a slower rate.

“We think this is a very robust observation: It is clearly getting warmer in the Northern Hemisphere,” says Magnuson. “The importance of these records is that they come from very simple, direct human observations, making them very difficult to refute in any general way.”

Magnuson says the observational nature of the study is “both its strength and its weakness,” and the results do not offer specific proof that greenhouse gases are driving the warming trend. However, the findings are consistent with computer-generated models that have been developed to estimate climate change from greenhouse gases over a 125-year time period, he says.

The findings also correspond to an air temperature increase of 1.8 degrees Celsius over the past 150 years. A temperature change of 0.2 degrees Celsius typically translates to a one-day change in ice-on and ice-off dates.

Freeze dates were defined in the study as the observed period the lake or river was completely ice-covered; the breakup date was defined as the last ice breakup observed before the summer open-water phase.

Ice records have valuable attributes for climate researchers, Magnuson says. They can be gathered across a wide range of the globe, and in areas traditionally without weather stations. Their primary weakness is that early observers did not document the methods used.

“Of course, 10,000 years ago the Midwest was covered by ice, so we know it’s getting warmer,” he says. “What’s troubling and scary to people is that these rates in recent decades are so much faster.”

Climate models have predicted a doubling of total greenhouse gases in the next 30 years or so, a change that could potentially move the climate boundaries for fish and other organisms northward by about 300 miles, approximately the length of the state of Wisconsin, Magnuson says.

The records in this study are part of a decade-long project led by Magnuson and the UW–Madison Center for Limnology to build a database of lake and river ice records from around the world. The project was supported by the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research program, which emphasizes tracking and understanding global changes.

“It’s kind of a new science, you might call it network science,” Magnuson says. “We reached out to colleagues around the world and asked for these records. It turned out some people had very rich stores of data.”

The records in this study represent the longest and most intact of 746 records collected through the project. Some individual records are of astonishing lengths, with one dating back to the 9th century, another to the 15th century and two more to the early 1700s.

For example, Lake Suwa in Japan has a record dating back to 1443 that was kept by holy people of the Shinto religion. The religion had shrines on either side of the lake. Ice cover was recorded because of the belief that ice allowed deities on either side of the lake — one male, one female — to get together.

Lake Constance, a large lake on the border of Germany and Switzerland, has a peculiar record dating back to the 9th century. Two churches, one in either country, had a tradition of carrying a Madonna figure across the lake to the alternate church each year it froze.

Two other long records come from Canada’s Red and McKenzie rivers, which date back to the early 1700s and were kept because ice cover and open water were critical to the fur trade. Records from Grand Traverse Bay and Toronto Harbor, both on the shores of the Great Lakes, reflect their prominence as shipping ports.

Other records included in the study are from lakes Mendota, Monona and Geneva from Wisconsin; lakes Detroit and Minnetonka from Minnesota; lakes Oneida from New York and Moosehead from Maine; Lake Kallavesi from Finland; and the Angara River and Lake Baikal from eastern Russia.

Another finding in the study, based on the 184 ice records from 1950 to 1995, showed the variability in freeze and breakup dates increased in the last three decades. Magnuson says it might be related to intensification of global climate drivers such as the El Nino /La Nina effects in the Pacific Ocean.

Magnuson says the ecological effects of global warming are only beginning to be studied. But studies already exist that have shown the northern ranges of some butterflies and birds have been extending northward.

Source: University of Wisconsin – Madison

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Read Dr. Seuss’s Book, “The Lorax”, to Celebrate Dr. Seuss’s Birthday,n or Better Yet – Read it to a Child or Friend

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March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’s birthday, he would be 112 this year. While he is no longer with us, his legacy lives on in the pages of his books. A book that all parents might want to read to their children is Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax”. It’s message is most applicable to finally being recognized environmental crisis of global warming and climate change, which continues to worsen.

Children should know we humans have already saturated Earth’s atmosphere with the residuals from excessive burning of earth’s fuels, the effect of which, together with the cutting down of the carbon dioxide sequestering tropical rain forest, has lead to an unhealthy and unnatural buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, which means that more of the Sun’s radiant heat is being trapped near Earth’s surface, which has already caused destabilized the earth’s climate systems, to the suffering and harm to many living species, including millions and ultimately billions of the human population, in areas which have experienced major and significant changes in weather events, more severe storms and flooding in some areas, but not enough rain for others.

Long before saving the earth became a global concern, Dr. Seuss, speaking through his character the Lorax, warned against mindless progress and the danger it posed to the earth’s natural beauty.

A boy living in a polluted town visits a strange isolated man called the Once-ler “at the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows… [on] the Street of the Lifted Lorax”, who never appears fully in illustrations; only his arms are shown. The boy pays the Once-ler fifteen cents, a nail, and the shell of a great-great-great grandfather snail to explain why the area is in such a run-down state. The Once-ler explains to the boy (shown in flashback) how he once arrived in a beautiful, pristine valley containing happy, playful fauna (Brown Bar-ba-loots, Swomee Swans, and Humming Fish) that spent their days romping around blissfully among “Truffula trees”. The Once-ler proceeded to cut down the Truffula trees to gather raw material to knit “Thneeds,” a ridiculously versatile invention of his, “which everyone needs”. Thneeds could be used as a shirt, a sock, a glove, a hat, a carpet, a pillow, a sheet, a curtain, a seat cover, and countless other things.

By cutting down the tree, he summoned the titular Lorax to appear from the stump of a Truffula tree. He “speaks for the trees, for the trees have no tongues” and warned the Once-ler of the consequences of cutting down the truffula trees, but the Once-ler ignored him, instead contacting all his relatives to help him with his business.

The Once-ler’s small shop soon grew into a factory and new equipment was made to keep up with the demand for more Thneeds, and signs of damage to the Truffula Forest became evident to the Lorax. The Lorax first complained to the Once-ler that the Truffula trees, being chopped down, were also the food source of the Bar-ba-Loots, who are now facing a terrible food shortage and a disease called “the Crummies because of gas and no food in their tummies.” To save them, the Lorax sent them off to find another food source. At first, the Once-ler only showed a little remorse, but still focused on expanding his business.

Soon, the Once-ler’s Thneed-making business expanded tenfold and now used delivery trucks to take out the shipments. The Lorax eventually came back complaining to the Once-ler that the factories were belching out so much “smogulous smoke” that it was giving the Swomee Swans sore throats, leaving them unable to sing. After the Lorax sent them off, he also complained to the Once-ler about his machinery making a goo by-product called “Gluppity Glup” and “Shloppity Shlop,” and how it was being dumped into the ponds where the Humming Fish live, leaving them unable to hum and forcing the Lorax to send them away too.

The Once-ler, disgruntled by this, still dismissed the Lorax’s pleadings and declared his intention to keep “biggering” his operations, but at that very moment, the “The very last Truffula tree of them all” falls. Without raw materials, his factory shut down; without the factory, his relatives left. Then the Lorax, silently, with one “very sad, sad backward glance”, lifted himself by the seat of his pants and flew away through the clouds.

The Once-ler lingered on in his crumbling residence, living in seclusion and remorse, while pondering over a message the Lorax left behind: a stone slab etched with the word “Unless”. In the present, he now realizes what the Lorax meant. He tells the boy, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” The Once-ler then gives the boy the last Truffula seed and tells him to plant it, saying that if the boy grows a whole forest of the trees and keeps them protected from logging, “the Lorax, and all of his friends may come back.”

In Wake of Flint, Michigan’s Lead in Its Drinking Water, U.S. EPA Sends Letters to All State Governors to Ensure Protection of Public from Lead in Its Drinking Water

As with many environmental pollution and resource destruction activities, once  the problem reaches a crisis stage, which might also be called “the tipping point”, the impacts or “unintended consequences become  essentially “irreversible” —  that is, the damage is done and there is no way to return things to the earlier preconditions.

The problem of excessive greenhouse gases in our atmosphere from too much fossil fuel burning by humans over the past 100+ years is a comparable  situation, but is occurring on a much larger scale, of course. There will be essentially no going back to previous conditions that existed on earth before global warming  from human activities began sticking up its ugly head.

To return to the lead in drinking water problem, the  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on February 29th sent letters to all state governors and water regulators across the U.S. promising greater enforcement of rules to protect citizens from lead in their drinking water, in the wake of the drinking water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, where many children tested extremely high concentrations of lead in their bodies, high enough to cause irreversible brain damage. The EPA is urging every state in the U.S. to locate all water lines in their jurisdiction that could potentially be distributing lead-contaminated drinking water to the public, which apparently was already required of every state in the U.S..

As reported in the Detroit Free Press Sunday, millions of lead service lines remain buried in cities across the nation, but in many cases water utilities are uncertain where those lines are, making it difficult for EPA to monitor many utilities’ compliance with the lead testing requirement, even at locations most likely suspected to have high concentrations of lead already in their public’s drinking water coming out of the tap.

The EPA, having already been criticized by some for not moving more quickly in Flint after learning of the elevated lead level in at least one home in February, 2015, and two months later, found to be not practicing corrosion control as was required, said it is now increasing its regulatory oversight over state programs – “to identify and address any deficiencies.”

The EPA outlined its plans in two letters sent Monday: One, from agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to governors in 49 states; and a second, with more detail, from Deputy Assistant Administrator Joel Beauvais in the EPA Office of Water, to state regulators. The state of Wyoming did not get letters because it has not taken primary responsibility for drinking water, so it remains with EPA.

In January, McCarthy issued an emergency order taking over testing and putting other requirements on Michigan and the city of Flint, saying they were delaying implementation of recommendations made by the federal agency. That came, however, some 20 months after Flint switched water sources and the state Department of Environmental Quality, with primary responsibility, failed to require corrosion control, which apparently allowed lead to leach from aging lines into residents’ taps.

While the state DEQ has borne most of the blame, the EPA has been criticized for not moving more decisively to restore corrosion control and react to fears of widespread lead contamination after the state acknowledged in April of last year that it did not believe it had to require corrosion control under the 25-year-old Lead and Copper Rule at that point. It has since acknowledged the mistake.

McCarthy said in her letter that her staff “will be meeting with every state drinking water program across the country to ensure that states are taking appropriate action to identify and address” any issues of lead levels being above acceptable levels.

She also called for states to do more to ensure that the public receives “better and quicker” information on lead risks, and said her agency will be working with states to make sure there is “adequate and sustained investment” in regulatory oversight of drinking water laws. She said EPA will be looking to help find financing for the “upgrading and replacement of aging infrastructure, especially for poor and overburdened communities.”

A Day to Remember – February 29, 2016

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I could not allow this day – Feb. 29 – to pass without comment. Leap year – a year having an extra day in February – occurs only every four years.

So, is that good or bad?

It’s not good, in fact it’s DISASTROUS, because yet ANOTHER day, and year, and decade has gone by while our elected officials in the State of Wisconsin Legislature, and the U.S. Congress, and the population of our state and country, refuse to take the threat, and now reality, of global warming caused by too much fossil fuel burning – in cars, trucks, airplanes, electric power producing plants that burn fossil fuels, seriously, despite alarming increases in sea levels.

Too much fuel burning primarily coal, methane (natural gas), and oil products, have been burned by humans over the past decades and centuries for the energy that has been produced, resulting in the emission and accumulation of elevated concentrations of “greenhouse gases” in earth’s atmosphere, resulting in global warming, the rise in the elevation levels of earth’s oceans, due to the melting of the earth’s Arctic and Antarctic Circle’s land ice and snow, the shrinking of earth’s mountainous glaciers, a thawing of the earth’s permafrost region (one-fifth of the earth’s land surface), causing a warming, expansion, and acidification of earth’s oceans, leading to a dangerous rise in sea level.

The warming is already wreaking of havoc on earth’s biological systems, including humans, most notably in poorer, tropical countries, many of which are already experiencing grave losses due to extreme weather events, such as drought, heat waves and severe storms, along with unprecedented flooding, all of which had been scientifically predicted well over a century ago!

The warming has been compounded by the increasing loss of vegetation, particularly the loss of the tropical rainforests, which had been naturally sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but not anymore, by the ones which have been replaced by other forms of development or money producing mono-culture agriculture.

Global warming from human causes is not rocket science, despite what the flat earth believers may still be claiming. However, saying that human-caused global warming is not occurring, because it has not been “proven” to be happening –  as of  this February 29, 2016, is utterly preposterous, and those who claim human-caused global warming is not happening are either fools or worse yet – liars.