Archive | March 2016

The Dalai Lama Teaches Fellow Tibetans and City of Madison, Wisconsin, and Later in the Week, Geneva, Switzerland on the “Oneness of Humanity”

daililama3
Photo/Sherab Lhatsang

The Worldwide Goals of All of Humanity Achieving Peace of Mind through Love, Compassion, Meeting their Responsibilities in Reducing and Adapting to Climate Change, Helping Others, and “the Oneness of Humanity” Highlighted the Dalai Lama’s Discussions Lead by The Dalai Lama in Madison, Wisconsin and Geneva, Switzerland

When the Dalai Lama arrived at the Madison Masonic Center in Madison, Wisconsin on March 8, 2016, a small group of Tibetans with flags and placards were waiting quietly to welcome him. He was met as he stepped out of his car by President of the Wisconsin Tibetan Association (WTA), Tsetan Dolkar, about 1,050 people, including 700 Tibetans, were gathered to listen to him speak inside the Masonic Temple. Sharpa Tulku moderated the occasion and first introduced children of the WTA who cheerfully sang a song of gratitude to the Dalai Lama. Amdo Yeshi Gyamtso read a report summarizing the activities of the Association.

In her introduction, Tsetan Dolkar spoke particularly about students’ achievements in a wide range of studies up to and including PhD. She noted the Dalai Lama’s advice that compassion is essential for our survival as human beings. She expressed thanks to everyone who had contributed to making the occasion possible.

Local Congressman Mark Pocan stepped forward to offer the Dalai Lama a traditional white silk scarf, and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi introduced the Dalai Lama to the audience. The Dalai Lama’s three major commitments to the promotion of human values: (1) to ensure human happiness; (2) harmony among religious traditions and (3) preservation of Tibetan Buddhist culture. Executive Parisi said that as a mark of support, the Tibetan flag is flying alongside the Stars and Stripes over the Dane County Executive Building for the duration of the Dalai Lama’s visit.

The Dalai Lama:

“Indeed, it is a great honor for me to have the opportunity to meet all of you Tibetans and friends of Tibetans here. We’ve been in exile now nearly 57 years, but wherever we are local people have been friendly and supportive. Here, too, the local administration and friends have shown us genuine warm feelings, as well as support for our just cause. Thank you.

“I am glad to hear that our community here has a sense of responsibility both as Tibetans and as local citizens. In Tibet people still face great difficulties, which is why it is important that we preserve our identity. This is not just a matter of how we look, but of knowing our own language, how to use it and the significant body of knowledge, the Nalanda tradition, it is capable of expressing. In the past, only monastics, not laypeople, really studied these things. This needs to change. Already nuns have taken up the study of classic texts and several of them will shortly be awarded Geshe degrees.

“I have also been encouraging laypeople to study the classic texts. You young people should try to do that too. It will enrich what it means to be a Tibetan, which is what maintaining our identity is about.”

The Dalai Lama said that whenever he meets other people he considers himself to be just one among 7 billion human beings. He said that on that level there are no differences between us, whether you think of nationality, faith or whether people are rich or poor, educated or uneducated. He remarked that we are all born the same way, and brought up in the shelter of our mother’s affection. This is why all 7 billion human beings have the same potential to cultivate warm heartedness. Equally, scientific findings that constant anger, fear and hatred undermine our immune system applies. It’s common sense, he continued, that families where love and affection thrive are happy even when they are poor, but families, who, despite their wealth, are riven with jealousy and suspicion are miserable.

The Dalai Lama said the prospect of humanity being more peaceful depends on individuals being peaceful within. He affirmed that because of our brains we are capable of thinking ahead and planning for the future. Through education and awareness we can cultivate physical health and a calm mind. He said we need to cultivate compassion, yet modern education tends to focus on material development rather than fostering inner values. This is why it’s important to find ways to incorporate ethics and human values into our education, something the Dalai Lama said he is committed to support.

He explained that as a Buddhist monk his second major commitment, at a time when the unthinkable is happening and people are killing each other in the name of religion, is to promoting religious harmony. He said this is possible because the common aim of all religions is to foster affection and build friendship. He declared that he has many friends among Christians, Hindus, Jews and Moslems, as well as Buddhists. At the age of 81 he said he remains committed to working to promote human values and religious harmony and appealed to his listeners that if they think of him as their friend, they should do so too.

Taking up the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’, which is primarily a teaching about altruism, he said: “This is not just about accumulating knowledge but is rooted in taking refuge in the Three Jewels and generating the awakening mind. We can compare the usual four line verse for taking refuge to the words we say when offer our food – ‘To the Buddha the unsurpassed teacher, the Dharma, the unsurpassed refuge and the Sangha, the unsurpassed guides, I make this offering.’ When we say the Buddha is unsurpassed we don’t think of him as powerful like a creator, but as sharing with us the way to liberation, a way he has already gone. When we say the Dharma is unsurpassed we don’t just mean the scriptural teachings, but the realization that arises from implementing them in our minds. This refers to our training in morality, concentration and wisdom. Such a refuge enables us to eliminate the ignorance that is the root of suffering.

“As Shantideva says:

Although seeking to avoid pain,
We run headlong into suffering.
We long for happiness, but foolishly
Destroy it, as if it were our enemy.

“Ignorance is a distortion of reality that we can only overcome through wisdom. And when we refer to the Sangha as the unsurpassed guide, we think not only of those in robes, but of anyone who has actually implemented the teachings. So, in the first two lines of the verse we’re going to recite, we take refuge and aspire to enlightenment for all sentient beings and in the latter two lines we generate the awakening mind of bodhichitta. This confirms our natural inclination to seek happiness and avoid suffering, but as Shantideva says again our tendency to self-centredness leads us in the opposite direction:

Whatever joy there is in this world
All comes from desiring others to be happy,
And whatever suffering there is in this world
All comes from desiring myself to be happy.

“Selfishness leads to shortcomings while concern for others yields advantages. Although the achievement of Buddhahood is to help other beings, we should remember:

Buddhas do not wash unwholesome deeds away with water,
Nor do they remove the sufferings of beings with their hands,
Neither do they transplant their own realization into others.
Teaching the truth of suchness they liberate (beings).

“In the Mahayana approach to taking refuge we take refuge until we attain the essence of enlightenment. The objective is to help all sentient beings alleviate their sufferings. The third line says, ‘through the merit of engaging in generosity and so forth, may I attain enlightenment for all beings.’ However, this is not only about merit but about wisdom too. If we investigate the ‘I’ who takes refuge, we find that our sense of a self that is intrinsically existent is without basis. It’s something we impose on the collection of body and mind.

“Analysis is not something we accomplish quickly, but it is powerful and effective. It’s something I’ve undertaken for 60 years and it has a real effect. It undermines our misconception of self and in doing so it counters our disturbing emotions. The cognitive therapist Aaron Beck told me that when we are angry, the object of our anger seems wholly negative, but this is 90% mental projection.

The Dalai Lama recommended adopting the Four Reliances: reliance on the teaching and not the teacher; reliance on the meaning and not merely the words; reliance on the definitive and not the interpretable meaning and reliance on noble wisdom and not on (ordinary) consciousness.

Turning again to the Eight Verses, he said they were composed by Langri Thangpa a student of Potowa who belonged to the lineage of those who study the classic texts. The main point of the text, which is brief but effective, is the cultivation of altruism, which relates to the conventional awakening mind.

The Dalai Lama was invited to lunch at the Overture Center for the Arts by the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Rebecca Blank.

After lunch, the Dalai Lama participated in a panel discussion which touched again on the importance of peace of mind and the interest that scientists are now taking in it. The Dalai Lama pointed out that what really destroys our peace of mind is our disturbing emotions. He commended a greater role for women leaders, suggesting that if the world’s almost 200 nations were led by women the world might be a safer place. He referred to encouraging scientific evidence that basic human nature is compassionate, which means that we can train ourselves further that way.

He noted that corruption is a result of shortsightedness, low moral standards and greed. And while observing that real generosity occurs when there is no expectation of a reward, he reminded those listening of the importance of giving with respect for the recipient. He said that it is also possible to visualize being generous.

He said the media have an important role to educate people about positive developments, which would involve taking a more balanced view of human activity and potential. As to what he would like scientists to study to contribute to creating a better world, he replied that they should accept that their knowledge remains limited and to approach their work with an open mind. He recalled warnings he received nearly 40 years ago to beware of science as a ‘killer of faith’. He overlooked this advice and entered into dialogue with scientists that in the course of time has been mutually beneficial and enriching.

dalilama6
A view of the Madison Masonic Center Theater during His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teaching in Madison, WI, USA on March 8, 2016. Photo/Sherab Lhatsang

Also attending the Dali Lama speaking engagement at the Masonic Center was City of Madison Police Mike Chief Koval, who posted the following on his blog under the title “Peacemaking” on March 15, 2016:

Peacemaking

March 15, 2016 8:24 AM

With his recent visit to Madison, the 14th Dalai Lama spoke again to a packed theater at the Overture Center. His message was at once simple and profound: World peace is developed from inner peace, and the foundation for both is love. To best serve as guardians of democracy, police must be more than peacekeepers, we must also be peacemakers. One calls for police to respond to and preserve peace while the other requires us to create and perpetuate peace. Both are necessary dimensions to the compassionate guardianship members of the Madison Police Department strive to effectuate every day. As the Dalai Lama reminds us, to do this work we must start by creating opportunities to foster inner peace. To this end MPD is poised to embark on a groundbreaking collaboration with Dr. Richie Davidson and his team of researchers from the Center for Healthy Minds here at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Our officers may encounter dangerous and unpredictable critical incidents on any given day, and must also deal with the additional stressors of shift work, lost sleep, public criticism and increasing scrutiny.

While many officers regularly incorporate a variety of individual wellness practices, and the Department has several support systems in place to promote officer wellness including our City Employee Assistance Program, Critical Incident Stress Management Program, Officer Involved Critical Incident Aftercare protocol and Peer Support Program, we continuously seek out opportunities to help improve officer well-being through proactive and preventative practices. This is a critical issue not just for our officers and their families, but for the Madison community as a whole.

As reflected both in the Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing report as well as a recently released set of recommendations from a use of force task force stemming from the Dane County Law Enforcement and Leaders of Color Collaboration, the health and well-being of police officers is inextricably linked to the health and well-being of the communities they serve. Officers who are resilient in the face of stress and trauma will be happier, healthier, and more productive. They will have greater capacity to respond in an adaptive manner to critical incidents as well as non-traumatic daily interactions, and they will have the strength and resources to serve as effective guardians of this community.

Officers train. We train a lot. And what Dr. Richie Davidson’s world-renowned research in the field of contemplative neuroscience tells us – much of which has included studying the Dalai Lama and other veteran practitioners of meditation – is that we can also train for well-being. In working with Dr. Davidson and his research team at the Center for Health Minds, we are exploring a pilot study designed to investigate the effects of Mindfulness-Based Resilience Training (MBRT) on police officer physical and mental well-being. Planning for this project is underway, and we are working hard to secure a source of funding. We are excited about this collaboration with the Center for Health Minds and anticipate that this pilot study will be but the first step in an ongoing partnership. It is our hope that this project may come to serve as a model for how police departments across the country can promote officer well-being, with potential cascading benefits throughout the department and for the communities we serve.

We are thankful to Dr. Davidson and the Center for Healthy Minds for the invitation and privilege to have heard the Dalai Lama speak here in Madison last week, and we look forward to the opportunity to partner around our shared commitment to cultivating peace.

Dalilamachiefkovel

Dalai Lama in Geneva, Switzerland

Prior to a discussion human rights at an event sponsored by the United Nations (UN) the Daili Lama met with journalists on March 11, 2016. Geneva, Switzerland, The Dalai Lama spoke of on the “Oneness of Humanity” and explained to the audience his three commitments. He recommended that education should emphasize the inner values of (1) warmheartedness, (2) tolerance and (3) forgiveness. He observed that although religion has been a source of happiness for thousands of years, sadly, today, it is becoming a source of hatred.
DailiLama-Geneva-N02_19

Later that day, the Dalai Lama participated in a discussion on the theme human rights in front of the Human Rights Council’s 31st session and members of the Tibetan community (above photos taken at UN in Geneva, Switzerland, March 11, by Olivier Adam ), with Nobel Laureates Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman and Leila Alikarami, and an Iranian lawyer and human rights activist representing Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi.

“We are talking about the future of humanity,” the Dalai Lama said. “No matter how small our voice here may be, it is essential we speak up”, he said.

“Sometimes people say all is well with the world, but they are mistaken. We are facing many problems. During my lifetime I have witnessed continual conflict and bloodshed in the course of which millions of people have been killed. We need to ask where we went wrong, what qualities we lack and why violations of human rights take place. Answering these questions and creating peace will require wisdom and compassion.

“Although I am a Buddhist monk, I am skeptical that prayers alone will achieve world peace. We need instead to be enthusiastic and self-confident in taking action.”

He said those now causing trouble and disturbing peace in the world are also confident, but are insufficiently moved by basic human values. Therefore, if we are to create a more peaceful world in the future, we need to introduce warmheartedness and secular ethics into our general education system.

The Dalai Lama said climate change and the ups and downs of the global economy are problems that affect us all. They are not confined to national boundaries. Focusing on secondary differences between us like race, religion, nationality and gender, stokes our inclination to divide people into ‘us’ and ‘them’, which easily becomes a basis for conflict. He stressed that if we remember the oneness of humanity and think of each other as brothers and sisters we can overcome that potential for violence.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to Hold Four Public Informational Hearings on its Proposed General Permits on Nonmetallic (Including Frac Sand) Mining Operations

chippewa-sands-mine-771x433

On March 16, the Department of Natural Resources released the public notice for the reissuance of the following two WPDES Nonmetallic Mining Operations general permits:

Nonmetallic Mining Operations (Non-Industrial Sand and Other Aggregates), WPDES General Permit No. WI-A046515-6: This general permit covers nonmetallic mining operations defined under Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code 1400 to 1499, except SIC Code 1446 (Industrial Sand). Typical operations covered under this general permit include mining and processing of construction sand, gravel, stone, rock and other aggregate.

Nonmetallic Mining Operations for Industrial Sand Mining and Processing, WPDES General Permit No. WI-B046515-6: This general permit covers nonmetallic mining operations defined under SIC Code 1446, Industrial Sand.

WPDES General Permit Nos. WI-A046515-6 and WI-B046515-6 authorize and regulate discharges of storm water and process wastewater from operations whose primary income-producing activity is nonmetallic mining. The proposed general permits and fact sheet are available on the WPDES permits on public notice webpage.

In late March and early April, the DNR will hold four public informational hearings on the proposed general permits. See the public notice for more details.

Unseasonably Warm Weather in Wisconsin

leopardfrog
Below is the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Outdoor Report summary for March 10, 2016. However, conspicuous by absence is any mention that Wisconsin’s unusually warm weather this month is at all related to human activities that cause climate change. Some of the many sources of fossil and other fuel combustion that emit greenhouse gases to the atmosphere in Wisconsin include: fossil fuel burning in highway motor vehicles (gasoline and diesel oil); jet aircraft (refined oil/jet fuel); electric power producing plants (primarily coal, and natural gas – methane); natural gas burning for heating homes, buildings, churches and other buildings, recreational utility vehicles; road construction vehicles; in cement and asphalt manufacturing; in snowmobiles, boats, motor vehicles used in tractors and other agricultural machinery, in lawn mowing, in logging, and in other miscellaneous motorized products that burn fuel. Other greenhouse gas emissions may come from mining operations including sand and gravel mining and mining for metals, and from animal livestock propagation for food sales.

Despite the findings and recommendations from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which concludes the climate change problem is “urgent”, as does President Obama, Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker and the state’s Republican lawmakers have refused to even hold a citizen hearing regarding the growing threat of climate change, not just to Wisconsin’s future economy, but also the quality of life future residents and visitor to Wisconsin will be provided, as well as the threats of a changing climate to animal and plant life in Wisconsin for generations to come.
Unseasonably warm weather melts snow cover, slows maple tapping efforts

Wisconsin has experienced some unseasonably warm weather in the last week with daytime temperatures in the 50s and 60s and even a low 70 reported in Milwaukee. The warm weather has melted most of the snow cover statewide, with just snow surviving in some forested areas of the Northwoods. Snowmobile and cross-country ski trails are now closed statewide and most will remain so even if the state does experience a late season snowfall.

State park and forest trails that were groomed for skiing are now open again to hiking, but most properties are reporting that rail-trail, mountain bike and horse trails are closed, as conditions are soft and muddy and use of trails in these conditions can cause significant damage to trail surfaces.

With the general inland game fish season now closed except on those waters open to game fishing year-round, only a few panfish anglers have been venturing out, but ice conditions are rapidly deteriorating and many shorelines in southern and central Wisconsin are opening up, making access difficult and dangerous.

Most anglers on Green Bay are removing fishing shelters prior to this Sunday’s deadline as waters are rapidly opening up. Anglers were out in high numbers around Sturgeon Bay last weekend with many limits for whitefish reported. Anglers were open water fishing the Fox River at Voyageur Park for walleye but success rates have been low, though with the warmer weather that is expect this to change.

Raccoon, skunk, muskrat, mink, and opossum activity has increased as temperatures have increased and snow has departed. Wild turkeys have been strutting and starting their spring courtship. Flocks are breaking up and the large groups of toms and jakes have already decreased in size as they establish their spring pecking order.

With the warm weather and south winds there has been a significant increase in spring migrants sighted this week, including red-winged blackbirds, killdeer, robins, song sparrows, swamp sparrows, bluebirds, turkey vultures and more. Other early migrants returning to breeding territories include American woodcock, great blue herons and eastern meadowlarks. There was a heavy waterfowl migration across the southern half of the state, including common goldeneyes, all three mergansers, green-winged teal, pintail, wood ducks, and many others. Greater white-fronted geese are moving through in numbers, as are large flocks of Canada geese and occasional cackling, snow, and Ross’s geese. Canada geese are staking out territory and will begin nesting soon. Sandhill cranes are courting and dancing. Bald eagles are incubating eggs and some great horned owls already have chicks.

Maple syrup season has gotten off to a very slow start due to mild temperatures, especially overnight lows staying above freezing. One producer placed out 670 taps late last week and harvested 370 gallons of sap on Monday. The 10-day forecast does not show any significant changes to overnight lows. The concern is that trees will bud out soon resulting in an early end of the season.

A number of observers reported seeing leopard frogs, spring peepers have been heard in the south and salamanders were active with the warm temperatures. Unfortunately the warm weather has also brought out reports from shed hunters and maple tappers finding the first ticks crawling around on them.

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

 

Picture0307162014_1

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.

pete-seeger

Lake Temperature Data Over Decades Show Warming

great-lakes-ice-cover-trend

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

nature-lake-warming-15.12.15

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

lorex

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.”