Google Earth Timelapse shows you how much humans are changing Earth

Human beings have had a massive impact on this planet, and Google Earth is launching a new time-lapse feature to show everyone exactly what that looks like.

Whether it’s climate change, deforestation, desertification, or any number of other things, the severity of human activity can be impossible to grasp until you see it for yourself. The new Google Earth feature, called Timelapse, will enable you to do just that — and what’s more, it’s already available to try.

Google will be updating Timelapse every year from now on, and it promises to keep it updated for at least another decade. That way, we’ll be able to continue to see how our planet is changing, and what human beings are doing to continually mess the whole place up.

Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was…

“Beast from the East”


Newly open water in the ArcticVladimir Lugai

The April snow falling on fruit blossoms in Europe these days may be directly connected to the loss of the sea ice in the Barents Sea in the Arctic. That was certainly the case in 2018 when the sudden cold spell known as “Beast from the East” descended on the mid-latitudes of the continent…

They are diligently stoking thousands of bonfires on the ground close to their crops, but the French winemakers are fighting a losing battle. An above-average warm spell at the end of March has been followed by days of extreme cold, destroying the vines with losses amounting to 90 percent above average. The image of the struggle may well be the most depressingly beautiful illustration of the complexities and unpredictability of global climate warming. It is also an agricultural disaster from Bordeaux to Champagne.

It is the loss of the Arctic sea-ice due to climate warming that has, somewhat paradoxically, been implicated with severe cold and snowy mid-latitude winters…

“What we’re finding is that sea-ice is effectively a lid on the ocean. And with its long-term reduction across the Arctic, we’re seeing increasing amounts of moisture enter the atmosphere during winter, which directly impacts our weather further south, causing extreme heavy snowfalls. It might seem counter-intuitive, but nature is complex and what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.” says Dr. Hanna Bailey.

And it gets more complex than that. RTFA, and understand as diverse and divergent from our “common sense” on the ground as many of these events may seem, cause and effect still happens and can be analyzed. Remedies for harmful change is the difficult bit.

Say what?


Kara Knight/Getty

Buzzfeed says I’m “old” if I remember using these. Yes, I’m old. But, remembering is unnecessary. I used one this morning while taking 6 weeks of household trash to the Public Works Transfer Station for our end of the county. In my 1994 Dodge Power Wagon pickup truck.

Had it since new. Still runs just fine. Does what it’s supposed to.

California wildfire research center makes a scary discovery

On the second day of April, the skies were clear over the San Francisco Bay Area and the view from atop the sun-drenched Mount Umunhum in the South Bay spread across a sea of green shrubs and trees carpeting the surrounding Santa Cruz Mountains.

It was a beautiful sight, but a team of researchers from San Jose State University’s Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center — the only wildfire research center in California — noticed something wasn’t quite right.

“I was shocked when we went up there because usually in April we have a lot of new growth and old growth, and we didn’t see any new growth on the shrubs,” said Craig Clements, a SJSU professor and director of the center. “We weren’t seeing any of the lighter colored, bright green new growth sprouting out of the growth. Usually we take clippings of new stems and there weren’t any. This has never happened.”

Clements shared an image (above) from the expedition on Twitter and wrote, “The lack of rain this season has severely impacted our chaparral live fuel moistures. Wow, never seen April fuels look so… dry. No new growth anywhere in this Chamise. April is climatologically the highest live FMC of the season. Very Scary!”

FMC refers to “fuel-moisture content” — a measure of the ratio of moisture to combustible material in brush and trees that indicates how prone they are to burning. And the image up top is an area ready and waiting for wildfire.

Texas Nearly Went Dark – AGAIN – Because Officials Misjudged Weather

Texas came uncomfortably close to another round of rolling blackouts Tuesday night because grid operators misjudged the weather.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages most of the state’s grid, had counted on a mild cold front sweeping the state, lowering demand for power. It didn’t happen. As a result, demand on the grid was about 3,000 megawatts higher than anticipated — or the equivalent of 600,000 homes.

The forecasting error, coming as 25% of power generation was off line for seasonal repairs, was another grim reminder of the vulnerability of Texas’s grid. Two months ago, a deep winter freeze knocked out almost half the state’s generating capacity, leaving millions of people in the dark for days. But Tuesday’s weather was hardly extreme, and the close call has raised questions about whether the grid operator, known as Ercot, can prevent a repeat of the February energy crisis.

“It’s a disgrace for a power grid in modern times to struggle to keep the lights on during a mild day,” said Daniel Cohan, an associate professor of environmental engineering at Rice University.

No doubt that comment is echoed by millions of Texans who wonder who’s in charge and why haven’t they been fired by now. No, not just the Electric Reliability Council. Throw in the State Legislature and the feeble hacks inhabiting the governor’s mansion and outbuildings.

Japan will dump radioactive wastewater into the Pacific


Eugene Hoshiko/AP

Japan’s government announced a decision to begin dumping more than a million tons of treated but still radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in two years.

The plant was severely damaged in a 2011 magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami that left about 20,000 people in northeast Japan dead or missing.

Despite Tokyo’s assurances that discharging wastewater will not pose a threat to people or the environment, the decision was roundly criticized by the local fishing community, environmental groups and Japan’s neighbors. Within hours of the announcement, protesters rallied outside government offices in Tokyo and Fukushima…

The damaged Fukushima plant will take at least decades to decommission. A swath of land around the plant remains uninhabitable, thousands of residents remain displaced, and the wastewater issue is another example of the 2011 disaster’s complex, long-term effects.

So, which are we to understand? That every aspect of this dump of radioactive material will work out well for everyone … in the end? Or this is just another group of bureaucrats anxious to return to business as usual. Screw the consequences!