Global soils are the stuff of life. We’re destroying everything they offer.

Global soils are the source of all life on land but their future looks “bleak” without action to halt degradation, according to the authors of a UN report.

A quarter of all the animal species on Earth live beneath our feet and provide the nutrients for all food. Soils also store as much carbon as all plants above ground and are therefore critical in tackling the climate emergency. But there also are major gaps in knowledge, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) report, which is the first on the global state of biodiversity in soils.

The report was compiled by 300 scientists, who describe the worsening state of soils as at least as important as the climate crisis and destruction of the natural world above ground. Crucially, it takes thousands of years for soils to form, meaning urgent protection and restoration of the soils that remain is needed.

The scientists describe soils as like the skin of the living world, vital but thin and fragile, and easily damaged by intensive farming, forest destruction, pollution and global heating…

Soils simultaneously produce food, store carbon and purify water, he said, so they are “at least as important” as the climate and above-ground biodiversity crises. “If you’re losing the top soil through bad treatment and then erosion, then it takes thousands of years until the soil is produced again.”

We know next to nothing about the life in our soils. Yes, we have categorized a great deal – with little or no information on how they act upon their environment. Which, in turn, is the growth medium for virtually all our food.

Hypothetical Asteroid crashes into Earth even with 6 months lead-time

It’s the Doomsday event that reigns supreme over all others: An asteroid, on a collision course with Earth, is discovered with very little time to prevent a possible impact.

In addition to being wonderful fodder for blockbuster movies, this scenario was also the inspiration for a tabletop exercise with NASA scientists at the International Academy of Astronautics’ Planetary Defense Conference last week. The asteroid drill is a mainstay of the biennial conference, but this year was different for two reasons: 1) The event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2) the fictional 2021 asteroid could not be stopped despite the scientists’ best efforts, even with a nuclear option…

“One of the objectives of this exercise is to get the disaster management and emergency response community more involved and thinking about what they would be facing if we didn’t have the time to divert an asteroid in space, and did have to take the impact somewhere,”…

“To mount a campaign, even a single mission, given our current state of the technology and how we do these deep space missions, we need a lead time, I would say, of a minimum of two years, and we’d be much more comfortable if it were five years,”…

As a result, the team recommended the development of rapid response spacecraft launches that could blast off within days or weeks of notice.

Nice that they reached a conclusion that might reduce this potential disaster. RTFA for the variables wandering through this part of the exercise. There is new tech in the pipeline that might give us better odds of sorting out a similar danger.

I have to wonder how many times folks have been analyzing this danger to our planet – without concluding it was time to get prepared.

Asteroid impact simulation ends with a new hole in Europe

An international exercise to simulate an asteroid striking Earth has come to an end. With just six days to go before a fictitious impact, things don’t look good for a 298 km-wide region between Prague and Munich…

This may sound like a grim role-playing game, but it’s very serious business. Led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Centre for Near Earth Object Studies, the asteroid impact simulation is meant to prepare scientists, planners, and key decision makers for the real thing, should it ever occur…

…A key takeaway from this year’s simulation was the dramatic way in which key variables, such as the probable impact area and affected population size, were affected by new observations. At one point, for example, North Africa, the UK, and much of Scandinavia were inside the possible strike zone…

Previous tabletop exercises provided many years of warning time, but not this one. Accordingly, the focus of exercise was geared toward the disaster response and the importance of identifying dangerous asteroids in advance.

RTFA. Be prepared! Even if the only response possible in real time is RUN LIKE HELL!

Fish started swallowing plastic in the 1950’s … matching the growth of our plastics industry ever since


A strand of microplastic from museum fish/Loren Hou

Forget diamonds–plastic is forever. It takes decades, or even centuries, for plastic to break down, and nearly every piece of plastic ever made still exists in some form today … To learn how these microplastics have built up over the past century, researchers examined the guts of freshwater fish preserved in museum collections; they found that fish have been swallowing microplastics since the 1950s and that the concentration of microplastics in their guts has increased over time…

Tim Hoellein and his graduate student Loren Hou were interested in examining the buildup of microplastics in freshwater fish from the Chicagoland region. They reached out to Caleb McMahan, an ichthyologist at the Field Museum, who helped identify four common fish species that the museum had chronological records of dating back to 1900: largemouth bass, channel catfish, sand shiners, and round gobies. Specimens from the Illinois Natural History Survey and University of Tennessee also filled in sampling gaps…

The researchers found that the amount of microplastics present in the fishes’ guts rose dramatically over time as more plastic was manufactured and built up in the ecosystem. There were no plastic particles before mid-century, but when plastic manufacturing was industrialized in the 1950s, the concentrations skyrocketed.

“We found that the load of microplastics in the guts of these fishes have basically gone up with the levels of plastic production,” says McMahan. “It’s the same pattern of what they’re finding in marine sediments, it follows the general trend that plastic is everywhere.”

Another stream of pollution contributing to the general poisoning of portions of the whole ecosystem we live within. Why we now have a field of medical practice called environmental medicine. Researchers get to examine air, water, soil and food … and how our industries can make these dangerous.

California just reached ~95% renewable energy!

Something remarkable happened over the weekend: California hit nearly 95% renewable energy.

I’ll say it again: 95% renewables. For all the time we spend talking about how to reach 100% clean power, it sometimes seems like a faraway proposition, whether the timeframe is California’s 2045 target or President Biden’s more aggressive 2035 goal. But on Saturday just before 2:30 p.m., one of the world’s largest economies came within a stone’s throw of getting there…

The 94.5% record may have been fleeting, but it wasn’t some isolated spike. Most of Saturday afternoon, the renewables number topped 90%, with solar and wind farms doing the bulk of the work and geothermal, biomass and hydropower facilities making smaller contributions. Add in the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant — which isn’t counted toward California’s renewables mandate — and there was enough climate-friendly power at times Saturday to account for more than 100% of the state’s electricity needs…

There are now 14 electric grid operators participating in the imbalance market, from Arizona Public Service in the Southwest to Idaho Power in the Northwest to Warren Buffett-owned Rocky Mountain Power in the Intermountain West. Several utilities joined this month, including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which has long zealously guarded its independence. Several more are preparing to join, as far from California as NorthWestern Energy in Montana and El Paso Electric in Texas.

By 2023, the market will cover 83% of electricity demand in the West.

That’s one of the sound, realistic, productive ways to manage climate change and turn energy production into a healthier industry for human beings. Not that conservative denialists care a rat’s ass about any of this. Truth is … we can continue on with this level of progressive change with no participation from rightwingers. They can continue to sit on their hands … while the rest of this nation moves forward.

Happy Weed Day!


Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

I was deeply proud to sign this bill into law because I know it will open up so many opportunities for New Mexico. Opportunities for workers and entrepreneurs to build prosperous careers. Opportunities to generate more revenue for state and local governments. And opportunities to mend the harm done by the failed war on drugs – which has taken a disproportionate toll on communities of color.

This is the kind of change I’m dreaming of when I talk about building a brighter future for New Mexico – a win-win that allows both individuals and communities to thrive. Together, we’ll keep fighting to make our bold agenda a reality. This session, we’ve proven that it’s possible.

If you search around the Web, no doubt you’ll find the occasional nod to the new law here in New Mexico. We’re all proud of the law and the governor who got it through the Roundhouse. I’ve already rec’d happy notes from friends back East who are ready to visit at the drop of a joint.

Funny thing is … I haven’t smoked ANYTHING since about 1960. Decided it wasn’t a healthy habit and quit. Probably got a bit of a contact high now and then the years I was singing. I really haven’t yet researched quite how I might introduce some flavor or other of New Mexico Home Grown into my daily calorie intake.

Probably try a brownie recipe or something like that … some Friday, my bread-baking day. 🙂