State of the Climate – Give yourself a update in climate knowledge

❝ An international, peer-reviewed publication released each summer, the State of the Climate is the authoritative annual summary of the global climate published as a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

❝ The report, compiled by NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at the National Centers for Environmental Information is based on contributions from scientists from around the world. It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice, and in space.

❝ This is the twenty-seventh issuance of the annual assessment now known as State of the Climate [large .pdf]. Surface temperature and carbon dioxide concentration, two of the more publicly recognized indicators of global-scale climate change, set new highs during 2016, as did several surface and near-surface indicators and essential climate variables. Notably, the increase in CO2 concentration was the largest in the nearly six-decade observational record.

No jokes about light reading. Reports designed for peer review are heavy on scientific citations. But, I still feel good about the research I went through at the turn of the Millennium with documents published by the Max Planck Institute as they worked their way towards a definitive response to discussions about climate change.

Here’s a chance to keep up with one of the best American-based global sources.

Coyotes In The City


Coyote riding on a light rail train, Portland, OR, 2002Dennis Maxwell/AP

Meet the new urbanites: They have long, furry muzzles, piercing, yellow eyes and are very, very wily.

They’re coyotes.

Until recently, scientists who study wildlife thought coyotes couldn’t live in heavily populated areas. Wild carnivorous animals and humans don’t typically mix.

But, as we’ve previously reported, those scientists were proven wrong. There have been coyote sightings in dozens of U.S. cities — Chicago, Portland, Seattle, even New York City. Like the fox, the skunk and the raccoon before it, the coyote is the latest predatory animal to make the city its home…

Stan Gehrt, a professor of wildlife ecology at Ohio State University, said this trend is setting up an inevitable conflict — wild animals are becoming more and more comfortable in populated areas at the same time that people are becoming less and less accepting of the killing of those wild animals.

RTFA. Not too deep; but, a good start. I generally end up on the side of carnivores and predators. Not just in urban districts – in the wild, as well. We’re closer related to them then, say, pigeons and politicians.

Pic of the Day


Click to enlarge

Thunderstorms almost spoiled this view of the spectacular 2011 June 15 total lunar eclipse. Instead, storm clouds parted for 10 minutes during the total eclipse phase and lightning bolts contributed to the dramatic sky.

Captured with a 30-second exposure the scene also inspired one of the more memorable titles…The lightning reference clearly makes sense, and the shadow play of the dark lunar eclipse was widely viewed across planet Earth in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The picture itself, however, was shot from the Greek island of Ikaria at Pezi. That area is known as “the planet of the goats” because of the rough terrain and strange looking rocks.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Teen bloodied by mystery sea creatures in Australia

❝ A teenager who went for a swim at a Melbourne beach and emerged with his feet covered in blood has stumped marine experts.

❝ Sam Kanizay’s legs felt sore after playing a game of football on Saturday, so he decided to soak them at the beach. About 30 minutes later, the 16-year-old walked out of the water with his feet and ankles covered in what looked like hundreds of little pin holes that were bleeding profusely. Upon returning home, his parents promptly took him to the hospital.

❝ Kanizay’s father, Jarrod, said hospital staff had no idea what kind of creature could have caused the injuries. So Jarrod went back to the beach the following night with a pool net full of meat and captured the animals he believes could have been responsible. He took a video of dozens of the tiny bug-like creatures chomping on the chunks of meat.

“What is really clear is these little things really love meat,” he said.

Eeoouugh!

Thanks, Mark and Justin

Federal Job Opening — Planetary Protection Officer

This position is assigned to Office of Safety and Mission Assurance for Planetary Protection. Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration. NASA maintains policies for planetary protection applicable to all space flight missions that may intentionally or unintentionally carry Earth organisms and organic constituents to the planets or other solar system bodies, and any mission employing spacecraft, which are intended to return to Earth and its biosphere with samples from extraterrestrial targets of exploration…

Um, cool.

How Dangerous Is Pesticide Drift?


iStock/Thinkstock

❝ If you live near a big farm or an otherwise frequently manicured landscape, “pesticide drift”—drifting spray and dust from pesticide applications — could be an issue for you and yours. Indeed, pesticide drift is an insidious threat to human health as well as to wildlife and ecosystems in and around agricultural and even residential areas where harsh chemicals are used to ward off pests. The biggest risk from pesticide drift is to those living, working or attending school near larger farms which employ elevated spraying equipment or crop duster planes to apply chemicals to crops and fields. Children are especially vulnerable to these airborne pesticides, given that their young bodies are still growing and developing…

❝ Thanks in large part to advocacy by Pesticide Action Network and other groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made strides in protecting more of us against pesticide drift. In late 2009 the agency rolled out new guidelines directing pesticide manufacturers to include labeling on their products indicating how to minimize off-target spray and dust drift. Any spray pesticides manufactured or labeled as of January 2012 and for sale in the U.S. must display the warning on its label: “Do not apply this product in a manner that results in spray (or dust) drift that harms people or any other non-target organisms or sites.”…

Even though spray pesticides are now labeled and 28 states have drift spray regulations on their books, pesticide drift continues to be a problem wherever crops are grown. If pesticide drift is an issue where you live, work, study or play, contact PAN. The group can send out a “Drift Catcher”—a device that collects air samples which can then be analyzed for pesticides. “It enables farmworkers and community members to document and draw attention to otherwise invisible chemical exposures,” says PAN.

Please, please – live or work in an area where this is a problem – contact PAN.

The Trump government continues to remove scientific data from the Web


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❝ In our latest episode of Ars Technica Live, Ars editors Annalee Newitz and Joe Mullin talked to UC Santa Cruz sociology professor Lindsey Dillon about how the Trump administration has been removing scientific and environmental data from the Web. Lindsey is part of a group called Environmental Data Governance Initiative (EDGI), which is working on ways to rescue that data and make it available to the public.

Lindsey told us how EDGI got started in November 2016, within days of the presidential election. Its founders are scientists and academics whose main goal was to make sure that researchers and citizens would continue to have access to data about the environment. They organized data rescue events around the country, where volunteers identified vulnerable climate information on websites for several government agencies, including the EPA, DOE, and even NASA. The Internet Archive helped by creating digital records of all the at-risk pages…

The Trump administration promises to cut the EPA’s budget by one third, and it has appointed Scott Pruitt to head the agency. Pruitt, who sued the EPA 14 times during his tenure as Oklahoma Attorney General, has just launched an initiative to “challenge” climate change data.

Run the video up top. Check out the discussion. The underground still functions within the most anti-science government elected by an ignorant nation – since Ronald Reagan.

China builds its first cute and cuddly solar power plant


UNDP

A Chinese solar power company has just completed the first phase of an ingenious PR stunt: building a 100MW solar power plant in the shape of a panda bear.

According to a release from the company, Panda Green Energy, and the Chinese state press Xinhua News Agency, the first half of the plant, with 50MW of installed capacity, was connected to the electricity grid in Datong, China, on June 29.

The image above of the project, which has gone viral, is not an actual photograph but an artist’s conceptual rendering pre-construction…

Panda Green Energy used a combination of darker monocrystalline silicon (the light-absorbing material in most solar cells) and lighter-colored thin film solar cells to design the solar farm in the likeness of China’s national animal…

While the actual plant isn’t quite as vivid as the sketch, it is nonetheless a significant addition to China’s solar fleet. According to the company, the new plant will avert the need to burn 1 million tons of coal over the next 25 years…

The Panda Power Plant initiative was also incorporated earlier this year into the “Belt and Road” initiative, China’s ambitious plan to invest in development projects in countries along the old Silk Road. The new plant in Datong is expected to be the first of 100 plants in the shape of pandas and other animals to be built in China and elsewhere as part of that effort. Another one, in Fiji, was announced in May.

The new Panda Power Plant is also just the latest showy example of China’s commitment to scaling up solar and other forms of renewable energy while cleaning up coal before eventually phasing it out. Unlike the US, China is on track to exceed its Paris carbon reduction commitments…

Gee, I wonder what Trump and the Republican Congress might come up with to express their failure to commit to cleaner energy?