Category: Earth

Nobel Laureates sign declaration calling for urgent action on climate change

In 1955, partly out of urgency and partly out of guilt, a group of 52 Nobel Laureates signed a declaration on Mainau Island in Germany calling for an end to the use of nuclear weapons. The work of some of these prizewinners—including that of Otto Hahn, who discovered nuclear fission—was used to build nuclear weapons. They were horrified their work was turned into technology that could kill billions.

Now, 60 years on, again out of a mix of urgency and guilt, a group of 36 Nobel prizewinners have signed a new Mainau Declaration calling for urgent action on climate change. The document is open for other Nobel Laureates to join.

The discoveries of these signatories have mostly improved the quality of life of people around the world, but they now stand horrified at the prospect of what unchecked use of natural resources could do to the future.

In our fight against climate change, another declaration—even if it’s signed by some of the most eminent living scientists—probably won’t do much. But the declaration comes at a time when world over preparations are being made for a climate-change summit to be held in Paris in November 2015. Although previous global summits have resulted in more talk and less action, there is hope that the Paris talks would be different.

One of the leaders of the 1955 Mainau Declaration was Linus Pauling, whose relentless work against nuclear weapons won him the 1962 Nobel Peace prize—putting him in the rare category of a single individual winning two Nobel prizes. Who knows? Perhaps the same could happen to one of these Nobel Laureates.

Click the link above and you’ll find the full statement from this group of scientists at the end of the article. Certainly, it will mean a great deal in the world of science. But, hey, those are just folks who advance knowledge, medicine, healthcare, technology, biology, botany, all the intellectual pursuits that brought us a modern lifespan.

It will take further action from ordinary folks like you and me to push our politicians into doing something positive in response.

Lloyd hat-trick inspires U.S. Women to World Cup victory


Click to enlargeReuters/Michael Chow

The United States won the Women’s World Cup for the third time, crushing Japan 5-2 on Sunday with striker Carli Lloyd scoring the tournament’s fastest ever hat-trick, including a spectacular goal from the half-way line.

The American captain struck three times inside 16 minutes as the U.S. stormed into an unexpected and unsurmountable 4-0 lead over their shell-shocked opponents.

Japan, winners four years ago, were utterly stunned as the U.S’s deadly finishing ensured they added to their 1991 and 1999 titles, and became the first nation to win the Cup three times…

No team had ever scored more than two goals in a Women’s World Cup final but the brilliant Lloyd went one better all by herself — and within just 16 minutes…

And got her the Golden Ball for the tournament.

Japan restored a little bit of pride in the 27th minute when Yuki Ogimi turned Julie Johnston in the area and fired past Hope Solo to make it 4-1.

The Japanese have been widely praised for their short-passing game but it was an old-fashioned route that brought them, temporarily, back into the game early in the second half.

Aya Miyami’s long free-kick into the box was aimed at Sawa and Johnston rose for the ball but could only deflect a header past a helpless Solo.

The glimmer of hope flickered for just two minutes, however, when a U.S. corner fell to Morgan Brian beyond the far post and she did well to find Tobin Heath, who confidently fired home to make it 5-2 and effectively end Japan’s hope of a comeback.

Bravo! The US Women’s team proved their worth, demonstrated that a nation that still hasn’t grown to full participation in the world’s most popular sport can grow through school programs and amateur leagues to play at the best professional level.

Apple personalizes photography — iPhone users win Cannes Gold Lions

Ahmed fiesta pic
Ahmed’s pic from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has shown up around the world

Apple’s World Gallery, part of the “Shot on iPhone 6″ media blitz, was honored at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival for Creativity with five Gold Lions and a Grand Prix award in the outdoor category.

…Jury president Juan Carlos Ortiz, creative chairman ad agency DDB Americas, heaped praise on the idea of sourcing media from the public sphere. The strategy flies in the face of traditional media strategies which rely on art contracted from professional photographers.

“It’s not just a great idea, it’s a game changer,” Ortiz said. “It’s really opening a new way of doing things and changing behavior.”

World Gallery first showed up online in March as a collection of images taken by iPhone 6 users. While some images were captured by professionals in the photography field, many were shot by pro-am or amateur users. Earlier this month, Apple added a video section to the minisite, again featuring footage borrowed from iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners.

I started noticing the video adverts showing up on TV in the last couple of weeks. Not only impressive work in most instances, I’m especially happy to see mostly amateurs receiving recognition.

There was a time, decades ago, that Kodak brought similar capabilities to hobbyist photographers. I’m delighted to see it happening again.

What’s Really Warming the World? NASA data provides proof

what's warming the world
Click through to a dynamic set of infographics

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies has done a knockout series of infographics based on decades of data and study. They deserve all the credit in the world for maintaining real science in the face of superstition, myth and the new American disease – self-deception.

Earth has its warmest May and warmest YTD on record

May 2015 was Earth’s warmest May since global record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information…NASA rated May 2015 as the 2nd warmest May on record. May 2015’s warmth makes the year-to-date period (January – May) the warmest such period on record, according to both NOAA and NASA, and it is likely that 2015 will be Earth’s second consecutive warmest year on record. Five of the ten warmest months in recorded history have occurred in the past six months, according to NOAA:

NOAA’s top ten warmest global monthly departures from average
1) 0.89°C, Mar 2015
1) 0.89°C, Feb 2015

3) 0.88°C, Jan 2007
4) 0.87°C, May 2015
4) 0.87°C, Feb 1998
6) 0.84°C, Dec 2014
6) 0.84°C, Mar 2010
8) 0.83°C, Nov 2013
9) 0.82°C, Apr 2010
10) 0.81°C, Jan 2015

Global ocean temperatures during May 2015 were the warmest on record, and global land temperatures were tied for warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures in May 2015 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the 5th or 4th warmest in the 37-year record, according to the University of Alabama Huntsville and Remote Sensing Systems, respectively.


Click to enlargeImage credit: National Centers for Environmental Information

Departure of temperature from average for May 2015, the warmest May for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Record warmth occurred across most of Alaska, parts of tropical South America, much of southern Africa and The Middle East, and parts of northwestern Siberia. Only part of the central United States, far west central Australia, Iceland, and part of Far East Russia observed temperatures characterized as “cooler than average” for May.

Please RTFA for lots more detail. Visiting here and reading the sources I try to reference for information on climate change puts you a couple of lightyears ahead of the papier mache, let’s-pretend-to-be-skeptics that populate the sites of conservative know-nothings who most of all fear diminishing margins for fossil fuel profiteers.

Check over on the blogroll sidebar of sites I recommend and try realclimate and 350.org.

Mayfly swarm closes Pennsylvania bridge


 

A dense swarm of mayflies caused motorcycle crashes and the overnight closure of a bridge in the…state of Pennsylvania.

The sheer volume of insects reduced visibility, and turned the road surface of the bridge over the Susquehanna River, in Lancaster County, into a treacherous, slippery mess…

“It was like a blizzard in June, but instead of snow, it was mayflies,” Wrightsville Fire Chief Chad Livelsberger told LancasterOnline.

“They were getting in our mouth. We had to close our eyes. We had to swat them away. Even when we got back, it felt like bugs were crawling in you.”

Spectacular swarms of mayflies are not uncommon – last year one in Wisconsin became so big it appeared on local radar as rain.

Individually, mayflies are pretty insects. Swarms of anything can still be life-threatening.

Imagine being trapped in a room with tons of kruschiki!

Climate change is making Mexico City unbearable and unbreathable


Lovely view of Iztaccihuatl Mountain

MEXICO CITY — On a sweaty May morning in this sprawling mountain capital, residents heard a painfully familiar warning on the radio and TV.

Air pollution was at dangerous levels, environmental authorities said. People were advised to stay indoors as much as possible and avoid exercise. Asthma sufferers should take particular care.

On the city streets, this pollution could be seen in dirty clouds hanging amid grid-locked traffic.

The “environmental pre-contingency” on May 9 was the fourth so far this year, compared to three in all of 2014. The warnings are a reminder of the long uphill battle against dirty air in North America’s largest city — which has been a laboratory for pollution in megacities around the planet.

This rise comes after years in which Mexico City air has been getting cleaner, thanks to concerted campaigns. But while some problems have been resolved, others appear.

One issue is that Mexico is getting steadily hotter, apparently due to global warming. Last year was the hottest in Mexico since records began, with average temperatures of 71.78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Higher temperatures mean that pollutants release faster into the air…

By 2010, when Mexico City hosted a UN climate change conference, it was hailed as a poster child for anti-pollution measures. Lead in the air had dropped by 90 percent over two decades, environmental authorities reported.

Yet despite the giant steps, pollution persists and is exacerbated by new problems, including the rising temperatures…

While cars have gotten cleaner they have also gotten more numerous. There are now 275 cars per 1,000 people in Mexico, according to the World Bank. In the Mexico City urban sprawl with 20 million residents, this would mean about 5.5 million automobiles.

“Air is very democratic,” Jose Agustin Garcia of Mexico’s Center for Atmosphere Science says. “The same air goes into rich and poor neighborhoods alike.”

Of course, scumbags like the Koch Bros and their Mexican equivalents can afford to live anywhere. They can manage their polluted empires from a resort or their favorite palacio in another country altogether.

People are one of the cheapest component of their corporate profits.

Climate change reducing habitable land in the Navajo Nation


Click to enlargeFour Corners Hikes

A third of the Navajo Nation is now covered with sand dunes — the result of climate change…Roads, corrals, entire homes have been buried in sand, creating what President Obama calls “climate change refugees.”

Thirty-foot-tall sand dunes the color of flower pots flank the road to the now dry Tolani Lake on the Navajo Nation.

At one time, streams flooded the road. Today it’s sand. The community has frequently bulldoze the dunes, but they creep back as much as 40 feet a year.

“It’s a losing battle, unfortunately,” said Margaret Hiza Redsteer, a research scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey. “They have to plow the road quite frequently to keep the road open so they can get in and out to their house.”…

Hiza Redsteer said the Navajo are not simply victims of something happening hundreds of miles away. Many Navajos work at the largest coal-fired power plant in the West, on the reservation itself. The EPA said such power plants are responsible for almost 30 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to climate change.

When you add up sand, heat, water scarcity and dust storms you can see from space, you start to hear terms like “uninhabitable.” That’s the word Carletta Chief used to describe parts of the Navajo Nation. She’s a member of the tribe and an assistant professor at the University of Arizona…

For the Navajo, the land where you are born is sacred. And generations ago the federal government allotted each family a parcel, a permanent homeland.

“And even to move from one community to the next is nearly impossible because your ancestral land is where your family has lived for many, many years,” Carletta Chief said.

Navajo ties to nature are beyond the experience of most Anglos. When the spirit voices of your ancestors call to you in high desert winds, it’s tough and frustrating to try to grow crops with no water where those same ancestors survived for centuries.

China’s Striped Mountains


Click to enlarge

It’s hard to believe that this collection of colorfully striped mountains is real. Sure, some amount of photo manipulation may have awoken the rich hues, but even the un-retouched images paint a pretty picture. Located in China’s Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, these “rainbow mountains” are yet another wondrous example of what Mother Nature can create. The formations’ stripes are most vivid after a rainstorm or as the sun enters or leaves the sky.

With enough time, anything is possible–even this 400-square-kilometer section of striped mountains. 24 million years ago, red sandstone and mineral deposits formed layers that compressed and underwent metamorphism, speckling the Chinese landscape with a “layer cake” of blues, reds and yellows. Erosion worked against the formation, carving cliffs, valleys and natural pillars into the earth, adding the array of textures and patterns that now characterize the region’s mountains

Wow!