Hawks and hope


Ellis Juhlin

I am a graduate student in ecology studying the parasites of ferruginous hawk nestlings. I have worked studying birds and promoting their conservation since I graduated college in 2017. I watch the diversity of birds that migrates through Cache Valley, Utah, keeping my outdoor lights off to diminish the light pollution they struggle to navigate through. Birds are a great unifier, the most accessible wildlife we have. No matter where you are, you can almost always spot a bird nearby. But now, as someone who works with wildlife in the West, I am scared for my hawks, and the rest of the wildlife that calls this place home.

What I am observing in the lives of these birds, and experiencing in my own life, surpasses the emotionless term “climate change.”…In an online discussion in November between Terry Tempest Williams and Pam Houston, two authors I admire, the term “climate change” was not used. We were discussing Williams’ book, Erosion, where the changing climate is a central theme. However, these two authors referred only to climate collapse. The moment Houston said “climate collapse,” the buzzer in my head went off, as if we were in a game show. I immediately knew what she meant. I am living through a climate collapse.

RTFA. Ellis Juhlin is a grad student at Utah State. An advocate for “the cultivation of responsible relationships between humans and our natural world”.

I’ll second that emotion!

Will Climate Change affect global trade? You betcha!

Some new drone footage shot as the ONE Apus was arriving in Japan last week gives us the first aerial view of the extent of damage on the deck of the ship after its historic cargo loss in the Pacific Ocean…

The owners and managers of the containership estimate that 1,816 containers were lost overboard when the ONE Apus encountered severe weather as it sailed towards Long Beach, California on November 30.

The number of containers damaged but remaining on deck is yet to be determined, but these images (and what we’ve seen already) show that the number is likely to be significant.

Authors of the article estimate 2,250 containers were swept away.

After the cold fall winds swirling around Hurricane Sandy pushed an enormous storm surge toward the New York and New Jersey coastlines several years ago, the ensuing damage left an indelible imprint on the public imagination. Restaurants with ocean views were battered by wild waves, homes were rent asunder, and historic lighthouses were pummeled into piles of rubble. New York City was paralyzed for days, and some 40,000 people were left homeless.

…Scant attention was paid to the goods containers strewn like toys around the marine terminals or to the gantry cranes left inoperable by saltwater damage. For a week, container ships laden with cargo floated aimlessly in the calmed harbor while responders scrambled to repair the damage.

As concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere at a record-breaking pace, changes to the climate system—not least sea level rise and increasingly ferocious extreme weather—will pose a growing threat to international trade. Costal transport infrastructure, especially ports, is highly vulnerable. But this is a two-way relationship. International trade plays a well-established role in making climate change worse by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, but what Sandy portends is that climate change will also imperil the smooth flow of international trade.

And this is just the beginning.

Uh-oh! More climate change news…

In the last 10 years, warming in the Arctic has outpaced projections so rapidly that scientists are now suggesting that the poles are warming four times faster than the rest of the globe. This has led to glacier melt and permafrost thaw levels that weren’t forecast to happen until 2050 or later. In Siberia and northern Canada, this abrupt thaw has created sunken landforms, known as thermokarst, where the oldest and deepest permafrost is exposed to the warm air for the first time in hundreds or even thousands of years.

As the global climate continues to warm, many questions remain about the periglacial environment. Among them: as water infiltration increases, will permafrost thaw more rapidly? And, if so, what long-frozen organisms might “wake up”?

Zombie viruses, walking mosquito mutants, the possibilities are endless…and the stuff of sci-fi “B Movies” for the next decade or so.

UK advancing the end of combustion engines


Even an opportunist dolt like Boris gets it…

The United Kingdom will ban the sale of new combustion-engine vehicles by 2030, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today. It will also ban the sale of new hybrid cars by 2035. Johnson made the announcement tonight as part of a new ten-point plan for a “green industrial revolution.”

This is the second time Johnson has moved up the deadline. The original plan was to stop sales of petrol and diesel-powered vehicles by 2040. Back in February, Johnson moved the target to 2035. He’s come under increasing pressure to crack down on gas-guzzling cars in order to meet the UK’s broader goal of eliminating emissions contributing to climate change by 2050…

Speeding up the transition to all electric vehicles puts the UK ahead of much of the pack when it comes to other governments’ pledges to phase out cars running on fossil fuels. France has a goal of ending the sale of new gas-guzzlers by 2040. California recently made a pledge to do so by 2035. Norway has a more ambitious goal of ending new sales by 2025…

The United States is governed by people who still think the Earth is flat. They are elected to office, again and again, by people who thank them for their “leadership”.

Bah, humbug!

What makes hurricanes stall?

A lot can go wrong when hurricanes stall. Their destructive winds last longer. The storm surge can stay high. And the rain keeps falling

Research shows that stalling has become more common for tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic since the mid-20th century and that their average forward speed has also slowed.

The Arctic has been warming about twice as fast as the mid-latitudes, where most of the U.S. is located. That’s changing the distribution, or gradient, of temperature between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes. And that can affect the steering currents, such as those associated with the Bermuda high.

On average, the forward speed of hurricanes has been slowing down. Simulations of tropical storm behavior have suggested that this slowing will continue as average global temperatures warm, particularly in the mid-latitudes…

A warmer atmosphere also means storms can tap into more moisture. As temperature increases, it’s easier for water to evaporate into vapor…If a storm slows, and if it has access to more moisture, it can dump more rain and produce a greater storm surge due to the slow motion.

RTFA. Even more interesting, mostly unnerving, factors affecting the course of hurricanes to come.

National Hurricane Center used all their names — then, two more storms arrived!


Forecast Landfall for Tropical Storm Beta

Here’s how active this year’s Atlantic hurricane season has been: When Tropical Storm Wilfred formed on Sept. 18, the National Hurricane Center exhausted its list of storm names for only the second time since naming began in 1950. Within hours, two more storm had formed – now known as Alpha and Beta.

Even more surprising is that we reached the 23rd tropical storm of the year, Beta, more than a month earlier than in 2005, the only other year on record with so many named storms.

So, why is the Atlantic so active this year? Meteorologists like myself have been following a few important differences, including many tropical storms forming closer to the U.S. coast.

RTFA, examine the cause-and-effect relationships that weather scientists examine before forecasting. Reflect upon climate change…and how and why it is happening. C’mon, you can do all that. And, living in an almost-democracy, you have as strong a mandate as any politicians parked in some executive suite.

Thousands of birds falling from the sky in American Southwest


Allison Salas/New Mexico State University

Thousands of migrating birds have inexplicably died in south-western US in what ornithologists have described as a national tragedy that is likely to be related to the climate crisis.

Flycatchers, swallows and warblers are among the species “falling out of the sky” as part of a mass die-off across New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arizona and farther north into Nebraska, with growing concerns there could be hundreds of thousands dead already, said Martha Desmond, a professor in the biology department at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Many carcasses have little remaining fat reserves or muscle mass, with some appearing to have nose-dived into the ground mid-flight…

Historic wildfires across the western states of the US could mean they had to re-route their migration away from resource-rich coastal areas and move inland over the Chihuahuan desert, where food and water are scarce, essentially meaning they starved to death. “They’re literally just feathers and bones,” Allison Salas, a graduate student at NMSU who has been collecting carcasses, wrote in a Twitter thread about the die-off. “Almost as if they have been flying until they just couldn’t fly any more.”

Folks here in New Mexico been talking about this for days. At first, we thought it was just something local. We figured on climate change. Waterways are turning bad as much as trees and vegetation are dying off. It’s just more widespread than we ever imagined.

Green stimulus can repair global economy — and climate

Projects which cut greenhouse gas emissions as well as stimulating economic growth deliver higher returns on government spending, in the short term and in the longer term, than conventional stimulus spending, the study from Oxford University found.

Many of the projects that could create new jobs in the UK are “shovel-ready”, compliant with social distancing requirements and could be started quickly, said Cameron Hepburn…lead author of the study.

He cited energy efficiency programmes to insulate the UK’s draughty housing stock, the building of electric vehicle charging networks, redesigning roads for more cycling, flood protection and planting trees. “These all need large-scale deployment, offer low to moderate skilled work and will have benefits in terms of climate change as well as boosting the economy,” he said.

Problems and solutions in the UK and USA are similar enough that I imagine it wouldn’t take more tweaking than deciding which side of the road to drive on. Worth examining further. Expressed thoughtfully, could be a decent add to November election issues.

129, 000 years ago the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted. Earth’s oceans rose about 10 feet.

High temperature in Antarctica, this week = 69°F.

…The mass melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet was a major cause of high sea levels during a period known as the Last Interglacial (129,000-116,000 years ago). The extreme ice loss caused more than three metres of average global sea level rise – and worryingly, it took less than 2˚C of ocean warming for it to occur.

To conduct our research, we travelled to an area on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and drilled into so-called blue ice areas to reconstruct the glacial history of this ice sheet…

…The results showed that most ice loss happened at the start of Last Interglacial warming, some 129,000 years ago – showing how sensitive the Antarctic is to higher temperatures. We think it’s likely this melting started well before the ocean warmed by 2˚C….

Our results suggest a 3.8 metre sea level rise during the first thousand years of a 2˚C warmer ocean. Most of the modelled sea level rise occurred after the loss of the ice shelves, which collapsed within the first two hundred years of higher temperatures.

I know, I know. Most Americans think like most American politicians. It ain’t happening while I’m around. Probably my kids and grandkids will be OK, as well. Someone further down the road will think of something to save our butts.

I’d rather have the concession for caskets that float.