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.

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.

We know how to slow the rate of global warming by 30%, right now … Will we get it done?


Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Moving quickly to cut emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas produced by everything from livestock farming to fossil fuel extraction, could slow the rate of the Earth’s warming as much as 30 percent, new research has found.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, calculated that a full-scale push using existing technologies could cut methane emissions in half by 2030. Such reductions could have a crucial impact in the global effort to limit warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared to preindustrial levels — a central aim of the Paris climate accord.

In human terms, that could translate into fending off the most severe sea level rise, preventing more profound damage to animal habitats and ecosystems, and delaying other extreme climate impacts.

To date, we’ve accumulated some explanations to the voting public around the world. And lots of pledges. Starting with an effort in Congress, next week, to remove one of the roadblocks that was left in place by the creep who is confident he’s still in charge of the Republican Party.

Anyone looking forward to success with Congressional Republicans? I imagine few of them plan on being around in 2050. And most of them are traditionally beholden to short-term corporate boffins who couldn’t care less about political action that might harm their share price in the market.

Comparison you didn’t notice (2) …

Matthew Dowd
@matthewjdowd

We are not in the top ten countries in the world in rankings on freedom, democracy, health, happiness, quality of life, education, income and sex and race equality. Maybe we should let go of American exceptionalism and begin to learn from countries that are doing better than us.

1,885 Retweets. 159 Quote Tweets. 7,092 Likes

…unless you wander through TWITTER

Texas’ utility incompetence brings havoc, steep price-tag, hundreds of miles North and South

Texas’ deep freeze didn’t just disrupt natural gas supplies throughout Lone Star country—its effects rippled across the country, extending as far north as Minnesota. There, gas utilities had to pay $800 million more than they anticipated during the event, and Minnesota regulators are furious.

“The ineptness and disregard for common-sense utility regulation in Texas makes my blood boil and keeps me up at night,” Katie Sieben, chairwoman of the Minnesota Public Utility Commission, told The Washington Post. “It is maddening and outrageous and completely inexcusable that Texas’s lack of sound utility regulation is having this impact on the rest of the country.”

The gas and electric markets in Texas are lightly regulated and highly competitive, which has pushed companies to deliver energy at the lowest possible cost. But it also means that many companies were ill-prepared when the mercury dropped. To save money, they had skimped on winterizing their equipment. As a result, gas lines across the state—which has about 23 percent of the country’s reserves—quite literally froze. The spot price of natural gas soared to 70-times what it would normally be in Minnesota, and gas utilities paid a hefty premium when they used the daily market to match demand.

Some places in this Land of Freedom … that slogan means local political hacks have all the freedom in the world to be dumb as a hoe handle.

Gesundheit!

As spring blooms, a less rosy trend comes in tandem — the pollen allergies that affect nearly 20 million Americans. The prevalence of allergies has skyrocketed in recent decades. In 1970, about 10 percent of Americans suffered from hay fever, which is caused by airborne allergens like pollen and mold spores; by 2000, 30 percent did…Allergies also affect our economy, costing the U.S. more than $18 billion each year. As the climate warms, the impacts of allergies are expected to rise as growing seasons get longer across the country.

Golly gee. Something else about climate change to look forward to!

A seismic shift in Houston

“Even those who are not ideological believers are taking the cues from the financial markets, which have no interest in oil production growth anymore,” said Arnold, the former head of natural-gas derivatives at Enron Corp.

He also said capital available to oil and gas has dried up while “every” private equity firm in Houston is raising money for clean energy. “The markets are rewarding those in a growth industry (zero carbon energy) vs one in secular decline.”

Arnold said the shift has made him more optimistic about the speed of decarbonization, which requires the scale and financial resources that large companies possess. “The fossil fuel industry has that expertise and is now focusing on a low carbon future.”

I have to say this is a pretty positive statement — for the environment and our species — considering the source,