California is now “Trans-apocalyptic”

Widespread smoke is just one of the symptoms of how climate change is degrading the quality of life for many people on this planet. In the article described below, the author wrote that a researcher told her that “Wildfire is literally making it unsafe to be pregnant in California.”

Here are excerpts from the article, titled, This Isn’t the California I Married — The honeymoon’s over for its residents now that wildfires are almost constant

…The climate crisis has caused us to get lost in time and space; we need to dig ourselves out of nostalgia and face the world as it exists. As he [Alex Steffen] explained to me in his confident baritone, yes, California, and the world, are in bad shape. But the situation is not as devoid of hope as we believe. “We have this idea that the world is either normal and in continuity with what we’ve expected, or it’s the apocalypse, it’s the end of everything — and neither are true,” he said. That orange sky in 2020? “We’re all like, Wow, the sky is apocalyptic! But it’s not apocalyptic. If you can wake up and go to work in the morning, you’re not in an apocalypse, right?”

The more accurate assessment, according to Steffen, is that we’re “trans-apocalyptic.” We’re in the middle of an ongoing crisis, or really a linked series of crises, and we need to learn to be “native to now.” Our lives are going to become — or, really, they already are (the desire to keep talking about the present as the future is intense) — defined by “constant engagement with ecological realities,” floods, dry wells, fires. And there’s no opting out. What does that even mean?…

Relinquishing the idea of normal will require strength, levelheadedness, optimism and bravery, the grit to keep clinging to some thin vine of hope as we swing out of the wreckage toward some solid ground that we cannot yet see. “We’re no longer dealing with a fire regime in the woods that responds to the kinds of mild prevention and mild responses, the sensible responses we have thought about, and that thought alone is a crisis,” Steffen said. “It means the lives we had we no longer have.”

The small settlement where I live is the result in many instances of folks coming to these conclusions. About half the folks in our community are native New Mexicans, mostly with Spanish surnames. Next two points of origin are California and Texas. Then, the scattering of lifetime hippies, non-conformists whose live are anchored in philosophy or art, not necessarily roots. Yup. That’s me.

Most of us have meadows, remnants of the grasslands where we built our homes. I suppose if the bosque at the bottom of our valley ever became dry enough to be a fire threat, we’d have to pass a regulation requiring collective mowing every summer’s end. That would help a lot.

Fighting wildfires is becoming more and more expensive

❝ Just six months after the devastating Thomas Fire – the largest blaze in California’s history – was fully contained, the 2018 fire season is well under way. As of mid-July, large wildfires had already burned over 1 million acres in a dozen states. Through October, the National Interagency Fire Center predicts above-average wildfire activity in many regions, including the Northwest, Interior West and California.

Rising fire suppression costs over the past three decades have nearly destroyed the U.S. Forest Service’s budget. Overall funding for the agency, which does most federal firefighting, has been flat for decades, while fire suppression costs have grown dramatically.

❝ Earlier this year Congress passed a “fire funding fix” that changes the way in which the federal government will pay for large fires during expensive fire seasons. This is vital for helping to restore the Forest Service budget. But the funding fix doesn’t affect the factors that drive costs, such as climate trends and more people living in fire prone landscapes…

Why are costs increasing so dramatically? Many factors have come together to create a perfect storm. Climate change, past forest and fire management practices, housing development, increased focus on community protection and the professionalization of wildfire management are all driving up costs.

What can we expect as a response from a Congress that as presently constituted answers mostly to a base that wants fewer costs, no taxes and, of course, no responsibility for any environment?

Fake President is OK with censoring science

❝ National Park Service officials have deleted every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report on sea level rise and storm surge, contradicting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s vow to Congress that his department is not censoring science.

The research for the first time projects the risks from rising seas and flooding at 118 coastal national park sites, including the National Mall, the original Jamestown settlement and the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Originally drafted in the summer of 2016 yet still not released to the public, the National Park Service report is intended to inform officials and the public about how to protect park resources and visitors from climate change.

❝ The 87-page report, which was written by a University of Colorado Boulder scientist, has been held up for at least 10 months, according to documents obtained by Reveal. The delay has prevented park managers from having access to the best data in situations such as reacting to hurricane forecasts, safeguarding artifacts from floodwaters or deciding where to locate new buildings.

The omissions reflect a broader crackdown on climate science at federal agencies, including removal of references to human impacts, since President Donald Trump took office. Trump previously called climate change a Chinese hoax, took steps to withdraw from an international agreement to cut greenhouse gases and moved toward reversing President Barack Obama’s policies to regulate power plant emissions.

Trump’s chumps are OK with censoring science. They fear this discipline almost as much as investigative journalism.

Bird gets lost — spawns a new species on a remote island

❝ If you get lost at sea and find yourself on an island you’d probably try to build a fire, pile some sticks and stones into a makeshift home and maybe even try to signal for help. When one misguided bird found himself in the same situation, he didn’t wallow in his own self pity; he created his own entirely new species.

RTFA. I’ve been hanging on to this one for a spell – and it’s fascinating.

Brief history of extinctions on Earth

“Our planet Earth has extinguished large portions of its inhabitants several times since the dawn of animals. And if science tells us anything, it will surely try to kill us all again. Working in the 19th century, paleontology pioneer Georges Cuvier saw dramatic turnovers of life in the fossil record and likened them to the French Revolution, then still fresh in his memory.

Today, we refer to such events as “mass extinctions,” incidents in which many species of animals and plants died out in a geological instant. They are so profound and have such global reach that geological time itself is sliced up into periods—Permian, Triassic, Cretaceous—that are often defined by these mass extinctions.

RTFA and “enjoy” or at least reflect upon the mortality of this widespread but fragile species.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity — This is Your Second Notice!

❝ Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1700 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity”…These concerned professionals called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and cautioned that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.” In their manifesto, they showed that humans were on a collision course with the natural world. They expressed concern about current, impending, or potential damage on planet Earth involving ozone depletion, freshwater availability, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth. They proclaimed that fundamental changes were urgently needed to avoid the consequences our present course would bring.

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data. Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse…

❝ As most political leaders respond to pressure, scientists, media influencers, and lay citizens must insist that their governments take immediate action as a moral imperative to current and future generations of human and other life…

Read it and weep, folks. But, I’d rather you get angry, get active. More than 15,000 scientists signed on, this time. There is no shortage of principled avenues of opposition to this crap.

Pollution’s Annual Cost? $4.6 Trillion and 9 Million Dead

❝ And that was just in 2015, according to a new global report on the consequences of humanity’s actions.


DelhiUdit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg

❝ Pollution in all its forms killed 9 million people in 2015 and, by one measure, led to economic damage of $4.6 trillion, according to a new estimate by researchers who hope to put the health costs of toxic air, water and soil higher on the global agenda.

In less-developed nations, pollution-linked illness and death drag down productivity, reducing economic output by 1 percent to 2 percent annually, according to the tally by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, published Thursday by the U.K. medical journal. The report is intended to illuminate the hidden health and economic consequences of harmful substances introduced into the environment by human activity…

❝ The report represents an “extremely comprehensive and rigorous quantification” of pollution costs, said Francesca Dominici, a professor of biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“In the scientific community, I don’t think there is any disagreement about the cost-benefit analysis of controlling pollution,” Dominici said. Reducing air pollution from vehicles and power plants, for example, would simultaneously improve human health and reduce planet-warming carbon emissions, she said. “The major barrier has been political, but not scientific.”

❝ As large as that figure is, it may even underestimate the full cost of pollution. Because the amount is derived from death rates, it doesn’t include the price of medical expenditures or lost productivity from those sickened but not killed by pollution-related disease. And it doesn’t measure some forms of pollution that are likely to have health effects, such as soil tainted with heavy metals or industrial toxins, because data to calculate its influence on health are insufficient.

No surprise when Bloomberg offers articles like this one. Folks selling services to investors realize that folks in all walks of life can develop a conscience about principled profit-making versus scumbags who don’t care how their profits are acquired.

Science envoy resigns from government to protest destructive policies


Click to enlarge

❝ An energy researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, resigned his post as a science envoy for the US Department of State on 21 August, citing US President Donald Trump’s “attacks on the core values of the United States”.

In a resignation letter addressed to Trump, scientist Daniel Kammen joined political leaders from both major parties who have criticized Trump’s equivocal response to violent demonstrations by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, on 12 August. Kammen also criticized the Trump administration’s “destructive” policies on energy and the environment, which he said have affected his work as a science envoy. Such policies include the president’s decision to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate pact.

Hilarious. Click the snap of Kammen’s letter for the enlarged version. Make a word from the first letter of each paragraph. Someone will have to show Trump how to do this – and then he’ll blow a gasket.