Tagged: global warming

Climate-change is turning males into females

Dragon lizards, that is…

The researchers, who have long studied Australia’s bearded dragon lizards, have been able to show that a reptile’s sex determination process can switch rapidly from one determined by chromosomes to one determined by temperature.

Lead author Dr Clare Holleley, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Canberra’s Institute for Applied Ecology, explained: “We had previously been able to demonstrate in the lab that when exposed to extreme temperatures, genetically male dragons turned into females.”

“Now we have shown that these sex reversed individuals are fertile and that this is a natural occurring phenomenon.”…

University of Canberra Distinguished Professor Arthur Georges, senior author of the paper…highlighted the importance that these discoveries have in the broader context of sex determination evolution.

“The mechanisms that determine sex have a profound impact on the evolution and persistence of all sexually reproducing species,” Professor Georges said.

“The more we learn about them, the better-equipped we’ll be to predict evolutionary responses to climate change and the impact this can have on biodiversity globally.”

Imagine how quickly our Congressional do-nothings would get off their rusty-dustys if it was determined that just a fraction of the semi-literate, obedient, party lever voters in the hotter climes of this nation were being tweaked from male to female!

We’d have a nationwide policy of carbon-reduction before you could say Koch Brother seven times in a row.

Catholic leaders ask GOP to join pope on climate, income inequality


AP/Charlie Neibergall

Bishop Martin Amos of the Diocese of Davenport, speaks during a news conference in Ankeny, Iowa. Roman Catholic leaders in Iowa are calling for presidential candidates to focus on the environment and income inequality in 2016.

Roman Catholic leaders in the early voting state of Iowa implored candidates for president Thursday to take up Pope Francis’ call for “profound political courage” by focusing their campaigns as much on improving the environment and income inequality as they have on opposing gay marriage and abortion in past elections.

The vocal pivot from such traditional social issues marks the first time U.S. Catholic bishops have publicly asked those seeking the White House to heed the admonitions of Francis’ June encyclical, said Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines.

In Francis’ major teaching document, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics called for a “sweeping revolution” to correct a “structurally perverse” economic system that allows the rich to exploit the poor and has turned the Earth into an “immense pile of filth.”

“These are going to be difficult decisions that have to be made,” said the Rev. Bud Grant of Davenport, joined at a news conference by bishops from central and eastern Iowa. “Politicians have to have the courage to do the right thing, and not necessarily the politically expedient thing.”

The push from bishops threatens to disrupt the historically reliable alliance of evangelical Christians and conservative Roman Catholic voters, putting pressure on Republicans who have leaned on their religious faith to guide them on social issues.

It will also focus attention on how the six Roman Catholics seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will wrestle with a pope’s teachings on economics and climate change that clash with traditional Republican ideology.

While Francis has condemned abortion and upheld marriage as the union of a man and a woman, he has not done so with anything approaching the frequency of his two predecessors. Instead, Francis has urged church leaders to talk less about such social issues and more about mercy and compassion, so that wayward Catholics would feel welcome to return to the church.

Should be fun when Pope Francis addresses the papier mache politicians in Congress. I wonder if any of the Tea Party idjits will shout out “you lie”?

Setting aside my reflexive wryness, the Roman Catholic church remains the only significant world religion with unified – even codified – administration and leadership. As much as some of the fundamentalist sects of Protestantism in the United States work at convincing themselves they are the only true voice of their deity, any socially, politically, reasonable leader of any of these has to respect the strength of a global religious body.

The Roman Catholic church may share all of the same fears of modern times; but, the latest pope seems to have learned something about not appearing like a complete idiot in the face of reality. The question remains – will our fundamentalists learn the same lesson? Will they then rap the knuckles of their pet political party and suggest a jot of progress is more sustaining than lockstep obedience to anachronistic dogma?

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.

Laudato Si, conservative know-nothings!


Looking pretty good in GREEN

Pope Francis has called on the world’s rich nations to begin paying their “grave social debt” to the poor and take concrete steps on climate change, saying failure to do so presents an undeniable risk to a “common home” that is beginning to resemble a “pile of filth”.

The pope’s 180-page encyclical on the environment, released on Thursday, is at its core a moral call for action on phasing out the use of fossil fuels.

But it is also a document infused with an activist anger and concern for the poor, casting blame on the indifference of the powerful in the face of certain evidence that humanity is at risk following 200 years of misuse of resources.

Up to now, he says, the world has accepted a “cheerful recklessness” in its approach to the issue, lacking the will to change habits for the good of the Earth.

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” the papal statement says. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

The encyclical, which can now be considered the church’s official position on the environment, includes practical guidance. Pope Francis rejects “simple solutions” to climate change such as cap and trade systems, which he says give rise to harmful speculation. He also dismisses any suggestion that population increases harm to the environment and should therefore be controlled, and resists making any judgment on genetically modified foods.

The essay was released following months of intense speculation about how far the pontiff would delve into a scientific realm that is still considered controversial in some countries such as the US, where views on climate change are divided along political lines.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, the pope’s top official on social and justice issues, flatly rejected arguments by some conservative politicians in the US that the pope ought to stay out of science.

“Saying that a pope shouldn’t deal with science sounds strange since science is a public domain. It is a subject matter that anyone can get in to,” Turkson said at a press conference on Thursday.

In an apparent reference to comments by Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush, who said he did not take economic advice from the pope, Turkson said that politicians had the right to disregard Francis’s statement, but said it was wrong to do so based on the fact that the pope was not a scientist.

The Republican Party has become the party of filth. Filthy ideology, advocates for bigotry and racism are welcome. Filthy practices, the worst practices of extractive industry, careless environmental standards, all are chickens that roost in the diseased chicken coop of conservative politics in the age of Reagan, Rove, Bush and Cheney.

You can read the Pope’s encyclical in the Vatican translation in several languages over here.

Crap ideologues from Jeb Bush to Ted Cruz spend about as much time reading bona fide science as the average jihadist. Often to the same effect on the lives of ordinary citizens of this planet. Death and destruction are part of their profit-and-loss statement.

I’ve enjoyed great debates with religious folks about the basics of understanding reality, the material world. While we marched side-by-side on our nation’s capitol in Washington, DC. I’ve had truly enjoyable discussions about Jesus Christ as an Essene radical – sharing a cell with a Catholic priest who always wore a fedora hat to demonstrations because he figured it made him look more like Bing Crosby, less likely to be clubbed by a racist cop. Disagreements about philosophy, science, material reality don’t prevent us from fighting for the common good.

Oh, and by the way, Jeb. The Pope has a degree in chemistry. How much science did you study at UT?

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.

Yes — another Antarctic ice mass is becoming destabilized


Click to enlarge — Hope Bay glacier now shedding ice

The troubling news continues this week for the Antarctic peninsula region, which juts out from the icy continent.

Last week, scientists documented threats to the Larsen C and the remainder of the Larsen B ice shelf (most of which collapsed in 2002). The remnant of Larsen B, NASA researchers said, may not last past 2020. And as for Larsen C, the Scotland-sized ice shelf could also be at potentially “imminent risk” due to a rift across its mass that is growing in size…

And the staccato of May melt news isn’t over, it seems…Researchers from the University of Bristol in Britain, along with researchers from Germany, France and the Netherlands, reported on the retreat of a suite of glaciers farther south from Larsen B and C along the Bellingshausen Sea, in a region known as the Southern Antarctic Peninsula…

Using satellite based and gravity measurements, the research team found that “a major portion of the region has, since 2009, destabilized” and accounts for “a major fraction of Antarctica’s contribution to rising sea level.”

The likely cause of the change, they say, is warmer waters reaching the base of mostly submerged ice shelves that hold back larger glaciers — melting them from below.

This has been a common theme in Antarctica recently — a similar mechanism has been postulated for melting of ice shelves in nearby West Antarctica (which contains vastly more ice, and more potential sea level rise, than does the Antarctic peninsula)…

Indeed, the paper suggests these southern Antarctic peninsula glaciers may have only begun their retreat. The glaciers may now be unstable, says the paper, because some of their ice shelves currently rest on bedrock that is not only below sea level, but slopes further downhill as one moves inland…

The greater Antarctic worry remains the ice shelves and glaciers in other regions, West Antarctica and East Antarctica, whose potential contribution to sea level rise is measured in feet or meters, not centimeters or inches. Still, the broad picture is that we’re now seeing consistent — and worrying — changes in many different regions on the fringes of the vast frozen continent.

The know-nothings carry on consistently. They seek out a lone skeptic, legitimate or otherwise, whose writings match their unwillingness to accept responsibility. It doesn’t really matter what the event may be, the process inexorably trudging towards future ills and dim loss. Whether a futile war, corrupt economic policies, destruction of our planetary environment – papier mache politicians accept neither responsibility nor the charge to lead the way from disaster.

Anti-science is only part of their anti-reality. Passing the buck to the next generation’s taxpayers is perfectly acceptable to creeps who define wars as unfunded mandates.

Know-Nothings will hate the Pope even more – Climate Change encyclical coming

pope-francis

Since his first homily in 2013, Pope Francis has preached about the need to protect the earth and all of creation as part of a broad message on the environment. It has caused little controversy so far.

But now, as Francis prepares to deliver what is likely to be a highly influential encyclical this summer on environmental degradation and the effects of human-caused climate change on the poor, he is alarming some conservatives in the United States who are loath to see the Catholic Church reposition itself as a mighty voice in a cause they do not believe in.

As part of the effort for the encyclical, top Vatican officials will hold a summit meeting…to build momentum for a campaign by Francis to urge world leaders to enact a sweeping United Nations climate change accord in Paris in December. The accord would for the first time commit every nation to enact tough new laws to cut the emissions that cause global warming.

The Vatican summit meeting will focus on the links between poverty, economic development and climate change, with speeches and panel discussions by climate scientists and religious leaders, and economists like Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia. The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who is leading efforts to forge the Paris accord, will deliver the opening address…

In the United States, the encyclical will be accompanied by a 12-week campaign, now being prepared with the participation of some Catholic bishops, to raise the issue of climate change and environmental stewardship in sermons, homilies, news media interviews and letters to newspaper editors, said Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant in Washington.

But the effort is already angering a number of American conservatives, among them members of the Heartland Institute, a [purportedly] libertarian group partly funded by the Charles G. Koch Foundation, run by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, who oppose climate policy…

But climate policy advocates see a scheduled address by the pope to Congress in September as a potent moment — about 30 percent of members of Congress are Catholics, more than belong to any other religion, according to a study published this year by the Pew Research Center…

“I think Boehner was out of his mind to invite the pope to speak to Congress,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, an analyst at the National Catholic Reporter. “Can you imagine what the Republicans will do when he says, ‘You’ve got to do something about global warming’?… ”

Francis chose the name of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment. He talks the talk- and walks the walk. Unlike the patent leather princes American Catholics have been accustomed to Francis actually says the ethics and morality preached in the communal wing of his church are standards that have to be lived up to if you are to be a good Catholic.

I wonder how that will go over with creeps like John Boehner or Rick Santorum, phonies like Jeb Bush, Rubio, Jindal and Christie, et al?

Inaccessible nutrients may limit ability of plants to slow climate change

Many scientists assume that the growing level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will accelerate plant growth. However, a new study co-written by University of Montana researchers suggests much of this growth will be curtailed by limited soil nutrients.

The end result: By the end of the century, there may be more than an additional 10 percent of CO2 in the atmosphere, which would accelerate climate change…

Cory Cleveland and co-authors looked at 11 leading climate models to examine changes in nitrogen and phosphorous. They found that nitrogen limitation actually will reduce plant uptake of CO2 by 19 percent, while a combined nitrogen and phosphorous limitation will reduce plant uptake by 25 percent.

Most of the world’s leading climate models assume that plants will respond to increased atmospheric levels of CO2 by growing more and more, which is known as the CO2 fertilization effect. The more the plants grow, the more CO2 they absorb from the atmosphere, thereby slowing climate change…

Cleveland said most climate models so far have not included nutrients because such biogeochemical processes are difficult to simulate and vary greatly from one type of terrestrial ecosystem to another. The Community Earth System Model from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, jointly funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy, is one of the first to begin considering the role of soil nutrients in the models that are used for climate change projections…

“We found that instead of acting as a carbon sink and drawing down CO2, the terrestrial biosphere could become a net source of the greenhouse gas to the atmosphere by the end of the century, with soil microbes releasing more carbon than growing plants could absorb,” Cleveland said.

Uncertainties remain, however. One of the questions is how soil microbes – which free up nitrogen in the soil, but also release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – will respond to warming temperatures. Similarly, scientists don’t know if plants will become more efficient at drawing up additional nutrients from the soil. If not, plants won’t be able to keep up with society’s CO2 emissions.

Symptomatic treatment is guaranteed to change only one side of the equation – if and when it works. Unless the continuing causes of anthropogenic climate change are dealt with the ever-expanding calculus of stupidity will still result in negative sums for our species.

We get screwed so corporate barons like the Koch Bros. can continue to optimize profits.