Archive | Ecological Disturbance RSS for this section

Climate Change and the 1,000-year Flood in Baton Rouge: When Will We Learn?

flood-ravaged-victims-in-mumba

Climate Change and the 1,000-year Flood in Baton Rouge: When Will We Learn?

We’ve learned to quickly forget about this and other extreme weather linked to climate change because we love our cars and freedom to fly the globe on a moments notice. Our commercial and public media, educational institutions, professional sports, games and award shows all help us forget about reality and settle into John Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields Forever” mentality.

Advertisements

July 4th (or any day!) is a Good Day to Initiate Positive Changes in our Economy and Environment

bald-and-golden-eagle-information

This post is being offered as a work in process. Readers are encouraged to submit constructive comments, all of which will be considered in final development of the post.

The inspiration for this post has come from: University of Wisconsin professor Bassam Shakhashiri, who has informed so many children and adults in the Madison area through his “Science is Fun” shows.

The post is also inspired by the Steve Miller Band’s performance of the song “Fly Like an Eagle”, played to a full capacity Breese Steven Field venue in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 1, 2016. The song can be heard and the lyrics read by clicking on the above description. It is well worth listening too and applies more now due to all the strife in the world than ever before.

Due to wars, poverty and the threatening and dangerous changes to climates around the world (23 people died from extreme rain fall and flooding in West Virginia), president Obama and other world leaders have told us actions to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are “urgent”. Certainly, former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson (1916 – 2005) founder of the first Earth Day, held April 22, 1970 (and every 46 years thereafter on April that same date), would see little to celebrate our country’s 240th birthday today.

Record levels of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and oceans, leading to deadly heatwaves, storms, and record levels of global average temperature. Travel via driving and flying contribute more than one-third of the U.S.’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a study by Sabrina McCormick, Jaime Madrigano, and Emma Zinsmeister: “Preparing for Extreme Heat Events: Practices in Identifying Mortality”, published in April 2016 in the journal Health Security, the authors make the following assertion:
“Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme heat events. These events affect cities in increasingly abrupt and catastrophic ways; yet, many of the deaths caused by exposure to heat have gone unnoticed or are inaccurately identified, resulting in a lack of urgency in addressing this issue. We aim to address this under-identification of deaths from heat waves in order to better assess heat risk. We investigated death records in New York City from 2010 to 2012 to identify characteristics that vary between deaths officially categorized as caused by heat wave exposure (oHDs) and those possibly caused by heat (pHDs). We found that oHDs were more often black and of a younger age than would typically be expected. We also found that there was a lack of evidence to substantiate that an oHD had occurred, using the NYC official criteria. We conclude that deaths from heat waves are not being accurately recorded, leading to a mis-estimation….”

Science shows us that the global warming is contributing to higher sea levels and a 30 per cent increase in the acidity of the oceans, leading to declines of species and in losses to fishing and tourism industries, worldwide.

Meanwhile, poverty  and income inequality in the United States and elsewhere are having devastating effects on millions of individuals, families and so many unfortunate children. A recent study shows children growing up in poverty suffer permanent brain damage.

President John F. Kennedy told us in 1961 to”Ask not what your country can do for, ask what you can do for your country”. The best thing U.S. citizens can do everyday is to minimize their daily and annual greenhouse gas emissions.

The Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Second Continental  Congress on July 4, 1776, reads as follows: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”

Our government officials at the state and federal level have failed in not passing legislation that meaningfully reduces Wisconsin and the U.S.’ catastrophic levels of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. What is needed is that our government at the federal and state level should by now have enacted programs which offer meaningful positive financial incentives (dollars) to the public to reduce total annual motor vehicle driving, flying, and using electricity and heating that have been derived through fossil fuel burning.

Reducing the amount of fossil fuel burning in the state and country would have “cost reducing” benefits as well, such as reductions in oil spills, train derailment explosions, and the financial and cost of expanding highways, airports and fossil fuel fired power plants.

Burning fossil fuels, whether this is done in highway motor vehicles, jet airplanes, sea going ships, recreational motor boats, gas or coal-fired electricity generation plants,  or in furnaces to heat one’s home, has a pronounced adverse effect on public and animal health, worldwide, by increasing breathable air particle pollution while at the same time adding to the record high and ever growing, catastrophe creating, quantities of heat generating greenhouse gas volumes in the atmosphere.

The mounting volumes of these gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous  oxide) are known to be warming the planet, accelerating rising sea levels around the world, causing more acidic and warmer oceans (bad for sea life and coral reefs), stronger and more costly and deadly storms (Hurricane Sandy, Houston, TX and West Virginia floods), and unparalleled drought and wildfires (California , Alberta Canada, Africa, Australia, Middle East, which has led to major upheavals in countries’ economies, population migrations and known calamities of major human and other life fatalities.

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), monthly global average temperatures for May 2016 were the highest recorded monthly average global temperatures recorded since the agency initiated monitoring Earth’s monthly temperature values  in 1880, setting a string of consecutive record high monthly average temperatures for our Earth’s combined global ocean and land surfaces in the 137-year record.

May 2016 was characterized by warmer to much warmer than average conditions across Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Central America, northern South America, northern Europe, Africa, Oceania, and parts of southern and eastern Asia, according to the Land & Ocean Temperature Percentiles map above. Areas with record warmth included much of Southeast Asia and parts of northern South America, Central America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and northern and eastern Australia. Near- to cooler-than-average conditions were present across much of the contiguous U.S., central and southern South America, and much of central Asia.

The sooner that people living today accept the fact that their own actions – such as driving gasoline and other greenhouse gas emitting fuels powering their highway motor vehicles, and choosing to fly today’s jet fuel (a fossil fuel) powered airplanes, and using electricity derived from burning fossil fuels and burning natural gas (another fossil fuel) – and deforestation and cement paving  and other human activities that are known to be adding to the already known dangerous and abnormally high concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and warming and acidifying of the earth’s oceans – the better off  things will be for all future life on Earth.

atime

 

Historic Showing of Global Warming and Its Causes and Effects This Wednesday Night, May 25, 2016, in Madison at the Barrymore Theatre

atime

Unless things change really greatly, AND FAST!, and we all together put the brakes on our fossil-fuel-burning-dependent world economy, NOTHING ELSE WILL MATTER! Doing so will not only be for the better now, in 2016, but it will be far better for the sustainable living of Earth’s future populations, other animals, and all other forms of life.
The film “This Changes Everything” is a MUST SEE for all who care about making the right decisions now, and in the future, for the good of humanity.

The new Avi Lewis film will be screened at 7 p.m. tonight in the Barrymore Theater, 2090 Atwood Avenue. The film delivers a powerful message on climate change through the language of floods, storms and droughts. Sponsored by the Madison Institute, 350 Madison, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Sierra Club.

Sadly, we are all now witnesses to the realization of global climate change, predicted by many dedicated global warming scientists over a number of years, as well as by other strong minded and conscientious individuals (some who are no longer with us). Those who dared to voice their concern about society’s almost mindless burning of fossil fuels in virtually all the economic sectors, especially for electricity, heating, transportation, and frivolous recreational pursuits, were systematically ridiculed, demonized or simply (and purposely) ignored (especially by the commercial and “right” wing media sources).

This occurred despite the overwhelming evidence that the concentration levels of greenhouses gases had been building up in the atmosphere (and the oceans) to unprecedented and dangerous volumes, according to the claims of the world’s most renown climate scientists following those statistics.  a direct result of humans burning fossil fuels in virtually all the economic sectors, the heavy energy use required to provide a meat-dominated consumer diet, plus the use of products made from distant locations, which require, therefore, require either very fossil fuel energy dependent (and heavily government subsidized) air travel, land (highway system also heavily subsidized and the building of upkeep of it is also a major greenhouse gas contributor as is its use, or sea travel.

Following the screening of the film, which will be beginning at 7:00 pm, there will be a discussion of local issues and planned action. Doors open at 6:30 pm for anyone interested in participating in per-screening discussions.

Hosted by a 350 Madison climate action team, for more information, visit http://www.350.org, contact the Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Avenue.

Also see April 20, 2016, blog post.

bald-and-golden-eagle-information

 

 

 

 

Naomi Klein: “We’re out of time on climate change. And Hillary Clinton helped get us here.”

atime

Naomi Klein shared her latest conclusions on how close Earth is to the “tipping point” on global warming and climate change in an April 7, 2016 opinion piece in The Guardian.com, and Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton actions that have made things worse, not better.

Unfortunately, there are so many other federal and state politicians, virtually all so-called public and commercial-funded  media sources, and others who have also “helped” us get where we are now –some have even shown they understood and were aware of the significance of the problem being created (oil industry, possibly auto, truck and airline industries, highway, bridge and airport building industries, coal mining industry, possibly others) yet, almost unbelievably,  chose to continue selling the fuel despite knowing the the significance and potential for calamity for current and future generations.

The path to achieving sustainability on Earth for humans and most other species living on our planet is, unfortunately, rapidly narrowing. It could soon close, say the great many of IPCC climate scientists, and as a result jeopardizing the lives of children living today and in the future. Indeed, there are far too many people in the U.S. and most other developed countries who have not seen fit to overcome their dependence on fossil fuels for activities such as driving motor vehicles, flying jetliners, using products and services made more readily available because of subsidized fuel costs, conserving energy in their homes and mansions, and their choice of a lifestyle which is grossly overdependent on the burning fossil fuels in spite of the now widely accepted crisis which the president of the United States appropriately calls “urgent”.

In short, our continuing with our “business as usual” economy – one centered around the philosophy that we should “eat, drink and be merry” now, while throwing caution to the wind; a philosophy that we can eat our cake and still have it for tomorrow – is unfairly going to saddle the children of today and tomorrow with a planet that is, for all intents and purposes, dying, and thus less likely to sustain life in the not too distant future.

When you place a large kettle of cold water on a hot stove burner, one would not expect to see the water immediately come to a boil. It would take several minutes of heating for the water to reach the boiling point of 212 degrees F.. So it is with adding more greenhouse gases to the volumes of such gases already present in the atmosphere. At some point, scientists predicted the surface waters of Earth’s oceans would begin to show warming. Such warming has now been measured, along with the increase in sea level from thermal expansion and the melting of glaciers, worldwide. The warming of the oceans is increasing, ever so slowly because of the tremendous volume of water the Earth’s 5 oceans, but increasing at a faster rate with the continuing accumulation of more and more atmospheric greenhouse gases, which are cumulative over time

Clearly, our burning such vast quantities of fossil fuels in transportation and for electricity today, while paying nothing for the great harm being inflicted on future generations, is a monumental injustice. The damage being created by the present and recently passed generation’s fuel burning activities is undoubtedly huge and devastating to future societies and animal life – stronger and more deadly storms, worse flooding, longer droughts, hotter heat waves, and impairments to water and other life-sustaining resources and infrastructure.  Calling this anything other  than a crime against humanity seems too kind. The human and economic cost linked to people and animals who will be more exposed to degraded living conditions and more dangerous weather extremes is very real and predictable. Those of our society set on continuing to uphold the status quo of “business as usual”,  as our earth continues to warm under the blanket of a thicker greenhouse gas laden atmosphere have chosen the wrong path.

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the international bestsellers, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate (2014), The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and No Logo (2000). Each book has been translated into over 25 languages worldwide. She is a contributing editor for Harper’s and reporter for Rolling Stone, and writes a regular column for The Nation and The Guardian that is syndicated internationally by The New York Times Syndicate. Additionally, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Globe and Mail, El Pais, L’Espresso and The New Statesman, among many other publications.

Naomi is a member of the board of directors for 350.org, a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. She is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics. In 2004, her reporting from Iraq for Harper’s won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. In 2014 she received the International Studies Association’s IPE Outstanding Activist-Scholar award and in 2015 she received The Izzy Award honoring outstanding achievement in independent journalism and media. She holds an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of King’s College, Nova Scotia. (Photo by Kourosh Keshiri.)

With a Forecast of Sea Level Rising 5-6 Feet Under “Business-as-Usual” Conditions, Media and Others Ought Ask Presidential Contenders What Steps the Country and Its People Ought Be Taking to Reduce this Major Threat to Humanity!

NYC

The latest study in the prestigious Journal Nature predicts the world’s oceans will rise 5 or 6 feet by the end of this century without major changes to end fossil fuel burning – NOW! We are causing irreparable harm to the earth’s climate and its physical and biological systems – including warming and acidification of the oceans as well as rising sea levels – processes that have already begun and will not be possible to reverse even if humans stop burning fossil fuels today.

So all we can do is slow the rate of change and help those most likely to be affected to prepare for the worst.  It’s the least we can do.

The League of Conservation Voters has a continually updated report “In Own Words” on each remaining 2016 presidential candidates’ past statements on climate change . Non of the candidates statements reflect the study on sea level rise released last week.

State of Wisconsin Would Upset Gaylord Nelson

This opinion was published in The Cap Times, March 16, 2016
By Dave Zweifel – Editor Emeritus

Wisenvirlegacyphotos

Gaylord Nelson*, the late Wisconsin governor and senator, would often confide to friends that if he were king he’d make it tough for big, smoke-belching manufacturing plants to locate in the state.

To say that publicly wouldn’t have sat well with the state’s business gurus. Nelson would have been pilloried for having an anti-business attitude and holding back the state’s economy, but he firmly believed that Wisconsin was a unique place, a natural wonder that needed to be protected for eternity.

And while the state never had a policy to keep big manufacturing plants out, it did develop laws to protect its natural beauty, adopting strong environmental safeguards for everything from the state’s towering northern forests to its thousands of blue-water lakes. Manufacturers were expected to follow those regulations and the Department of Natural Resources was charged with making sure they did. We didn’t want any Gary, Indianas, in our midst.

It wasn’t just Democrat Nelson who carried the torch to protect Wisconsin from potential polluters. A Republican named Warren Knowles did too. The two Wisconsin politicians grew up not too far from each other, Knowles in River Falls in Pierce County and Nelson in little Clear Lake in Polk County, about an hour’s drive to the north.

They knew firsthand Wisconsin’s rushing rivers, its fresh and unpolluted air, its varied landscapes that beckoned folks to enjoy the great outdoors. It was their love of Wisconsin’s unspoiled beauty that resulted in the two of them pushing the state to buy land and preserve it for the people.

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program wound up protecting over a half-million acres for posterity and keeping Wisconsin as true to its natural roots as possible. The state became known for its environmental protections and was considered a model of how states could balance the interests of businesses, conservationists and environmentalists for the benefit of all.

I am struck by how much that’s changed under Scott Walker’s tenure as Wisconsin’s governor.

A recent story in the Wisconsin State Journal described how the current leadership of the DNR is hurriedly putting together a reorganization of the department that many fear will reduce the department’s ability to keep tabs on potential polluters. That is coming on top of several laws passed in the state Legislature’s most recent session that will harm our state’s waters.

And that’s on top of a gradual reduction in DNR staff, including educators and foresters, and decimation of the department’s Science Bureau. And that’s still on top of the Walker administration’s directive to the DNR to sell off some of the land preserved by the Knowles-Nelson fund.

In short, where just a few years ago the state’s environmental interests were on equal footing with those of businesses and developers, the playing field has been tilted in favor of the latter groups.

Wisconsin is already starting to show scars. The proliferation of controversial megafarms called CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) continues unabated around the state, often in areas where private wells and groundwater aquifers can be contaminated. In Kewaunee County, a high concentration of cows in CAFOs and the resulting liquid manure is suspected in the contamination of numerous residential wells.

Other CAFOs have experienced devastating accidental spills of manure, the most recent in Grant County, where two miles of a pristine trout stream were poisoned. Yet the CAFOs seem to get routine approval. One proposed to be opened near the town of Saratoga in Wood County, complete with 5,300 cattle producing enough waste to equal that of a city of 106,000 people, is being fought relentlessly by the local people, but the fight may all be for naught.

The DNR’s deputy secretary, Kurt Thiede, said the planned reorganization, which is targeted to occur as early as June 1, is aimed at taking best practices from other states. Arizona, Iowa and Tennessee were given as examples.

There was a time when other states came to Wisconsin to learn about the best ways to protect their natural resources.

No more.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.

Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day, celebrated in the United States and around the world annually, on April 22, since 1970. His last book was “Beyond Earth Day: Fulfilling the Promise”.

Aldo Leopold was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is best known for his book “A Sand County Almanac” (1949), which has sold more than two million copies.

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.