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100,000 Kg of Poisoned Dead Fish in Chinese River

100,000 Kg of Poisoned Dead Fish in Chinese River

http://www.globalfundexchange.com/blog/2013/09/04/100000-kg-of-poisoned-dead-fish-in-chinese-river/

Chinese authorities have scooped up around 100,000 kilograms (220,000 pounds) of dead fish they say were poisoned by ammonia from a chemical plant, environmental officials and state media said Wednesday, in a reminder of the pollution plaguing the country.

The Hubei province environmental protection department, notified of the piles of dead fish in central China’s Fuhe River on Monday, pointed the finger at local company Hubei Shuanghuan Science and Technology Stock Co. Officials said sampling of its drain outlet showed that ammonia density far exceeded the national standard. The company said it wasn’t going to immediately comment.

Inadequate controls on industry and lax enforcement of existing standards have worsened China’s pollution problem, stemming from three decades of breakneck economic growth.

A few months ago we published a short slideshow on China’s Pollution Issues – Click here to see it.

High-profile incidents this year involving dead animals in rivers — not only deaths attributed to pollution but also carcasses dumped by farmers after die-offs at farms — have added to public disgust and suspicions about the safety of drinking water.

The latest incident has affected the nearby fishing village of Huanghualao, where 1,600 residents make a living from fishing, said the village’s Communist Party secretary, Wang Sanqing. “The dead fish covered the entire river and looked like snowflakes,” he said, adding that the village has 150 fishing boats and could lose up to 70,000 yuan ($11,400) per day. The environmental department warned the public not to eat the dead fish, but said drinking water was not affected. It said it ordered the company to suspend operations and fix the pollution problem.

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Remember, we did not inherit this planet from our parents, we merely have it on loan from our children and grandchildren. Time to make a difference ? See what we are doing at Global Fund Exchange to leave a better legacy for future generations. 

by anric

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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Climate Change, Water

 

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A Nation On Fire: Climate Change And The Burning of America

A Nation On Fire: Climate Change And The Burning of America

http://www.globalfundexchange.com/blog/2013/07/31/a-nation-on-fire-climate-change-and-the-burning-of-america/

June 20, 2013: Wildfires fires approach the town of South Fork, Colorado (Credit: AP)

 

Huge, explosive fires are becoming commonplace, say many experts, because climate change is setting the stage — bringing higher temperatures, widespread drought, earlier snowmelt and spring vegetation growth, and expanded insect and disease infestations.


Scientists and fire experts speaking on a recent conference call organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists say the nation is moving into an era when massive and destructive wildfires of the kind that occurred only sporadically over the last century will now be a regular occurrence. “Within the next few decades we anticipate these [forest] systems being as dry on a regular basis as the major fire years of the last century,” said Anthony Westerling of the University of California, Merced.

“We are now completely certain that there is a climate signal in the observed fire activity,” added Dave Cleaves, climate adviser to the head of the U.S. Forest Service. “Fire, insects, disease and moisture stress are all being linked more closely by climate change.”

Wildfire statistics compiled by the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, offer sobering confirmation. The seven largest fire years since 1960 have all occurred since 2000. In 2006, 2007, and last year, the toll exceeded 9 million acres, an area roughly equivalent to Maryland and Rhode Island combined.

This year’s fire season, while running behind 2012 in terms of acreage lost thus far, is proving particularly destructive and tragic in some places. A year after the Waldo Canyon fire set a new standard for destructiveness in Colorado by burning nearly 350 homes in 2012, this June the Black Forest Firedestroyed more than 500 just a few miles away. And the June 30 Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona killed 19 members of a Hot Shot firefighting crew when they were overrun by flames, the deadliest wildfire in 80 years.

There is no single reason for the recent transition to more frequent and explosive fires, says Oltrogge. For one, too many people are “deciding to build communities where there will be big scary wildfires.” And there is too much fuel built up in forests where frequent low-intensity fires once thinned out underbrush but where decades of man suppressing natural fires has resulted in overcrowded stands of trees now vulnerable to catastrophic fires. Plus, emphasizes Oltrogge, “I can tell you as a matter of fact that climate change is a key contributor to what we’ve been dealing with the last 10 to 12 years.”

That’s hardly an outlier opinion. In congressional testimony two years ago, Thomas Tidwell, the head of the U.S. Forest Service, told lawmakers that his agency faces conditions of higher temperatures, earlier mountain snowmelt, and much longer fire seasons, which “our scientists believe … is due to a change in climate.”

Wildfires-02Tidwell again delivered that message yet again to Congress last month. Large fires in excess of 10,000 acres are seven times more common today than four decades ago, Tidwell said. The fire season is two months longer. In 2012, he said, “over 9.3 million acres burned in the United States. The fires of 2012 were massive in size, with 51 fires exceeding 40,000 acres. Of these large fires, 14 exceeded 100,000 acres.”

And that comes with a huge price tag.

The cost of federal firefighting efforts, borne largely by the Forest Service and the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, has also risen dramatically. At the Forest Service, firefighting now often eats up 40 percent of the agency’s annual budget. In a little more than a decade, fire staffing at the Forest Service has more than doubled. During the decade of the 1990s, federal firefighting costs averaged less than $1 billion a year; since 2002, the annual cost has averaged more than $3 billion.

There is little prospect of those costs declining. In fact, a report released last month by Headwaters Economics concluded, “These changes will all contribute to escalating wildfire protection costs for all levels of government.”

Federal efforts to reduce fire risks — through thinning of small trees and underbrush and by setting what are known as ‘prescribed fires’ to cut down on those small fuels that can lead to large catastrophic fires — were accelerated around the year 2000, when spending on what is known as the hazardous fuels reduction program run by the Forest Service and Department of Interior tripled. But spending on fuels reduction since 2011 has declined, and in its budget request this year, the Obama administration has sought a cut of more than 30 percent, the third year in a row it has proposed substantial reductions to Congress. The administration’s request for hazardous fuels reduction for next year is just $297 million.

Wildfire preparedness has taken another hit as a result of automatic budget cuts under sequestration, which cut spending from $500 million last year to $419 million this year. A report released this spring by House Appropriation Committee Democrats found that sequestration would mean the Forest Service would have 500 fewer firefighters this season, and 50-70 fewer fire engines and two fewer aircraft.

Increasingly, lawmakers are calling on the Forest Service and Interior Department to spend more on preventive measures in order to eventually reduce firefighting costs. “You can spend more modest amounts on the front end, with preventive kinds of efforts, or you can spend your time investing substantially more money trying to play catch-up as these infernos rip their way through the West,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) last month.

Even with stronger financial support, the job of treating forests to reduce wildfire is enormous. The federal government is currently treating about 3 million acres a year, but Tidwell, the chief of the Forest Service, told Congress in June that between 65 and 82 million acres of Forest Service lands “are in need of fuels and forest health treatments — up to 42 percent of the entire system.”

Across all federal land holdings, 231 million acres are at moderate to high risk of damage from wildfires, according to a 2011 Congressional Research Service report. “Since many ecosystems need to be treated on a 10-35 year cycle … current treatment rates are insufficient to address the problem,” the report found.

Attacking the escalating expense of fighting fires is a difficult problem.

This is due in large part to the fact that the federal government, which shoulders most of the firefighting expense, has little power to control Americans’ urge to move into the woods because land use decisions are a local and state responsibility.

A key reason that wildfires have become more destructive, and fighting them more expensive, is that millions of Americans have made a conscious decision to move close to wildlands that are susceptible to fire — known by the infelicitous phrase the wildland-urban interface, or WUI.

“The number of housing units within half a mile of a national forest grew from 484,000 in 1940 to 1.8 million in 2000,” Tidwell testified to Congress last month. Another 1.2 million live within national forest boundaries, a nearly four-fold increase from 1940. Even with all that development near and in the forest, only about one-sixth of the WUI is developed, leaving plenty of room to make the situation worse.

Protecting those structures during fires has become the de facto number two priority of federal firefighting efforts, after protecting human life. According to Headwaters Economics’ recent report, “in a survey of [Forest Service] land managers, some estimated that 50 to 95 percent of firefighting costs were attributable to protection of private property.”

Further complicating the matter is the fact that knowing that federal firefighters will make valiant efforts to save homes “removes incentives for landowners moving into the WUI to take responsibility for their own protection and ensure their homes are constructed and landscaped in ways that reduce wildfire risks” according to a report by the Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General.

Ray Rasker, executive director of Headwaters Economics, said in an interview that a huge part of the problem is the fact that “there is no cost accountability for those who build in the WUI,” whether its individual homeowners or the local government bodies who make the development decisions about sewers, police coverage, roads and other issues.

“There are a lot of questions they ask about okaying a new development,” says Rasker. “But they don’t ask, ‘when we get a bill from the feds are we going to be able to afford our share of the firefighting costs?’” That’s because in most cases, they don’t have to share those fire costs. If they did, said Rasker, it would be much easier for local government to say no to development in the WUI.

“Eighty four percent of this land is still not developed,” Rasker says. “If you think it’s expensive now, you’re in for a big surprise. Fires are twice as big, they are burning twice as long. That’s the cost trajectory we are on.”

Climate change is altering the fundamentals in the West, bringing higher temperatures, earlier snowmelt that extends the fire season, severe and prolonged drought, and insect infestations that kill millions of acres of trees. Combined with scant evidence that policymakers at all levels of government are attacking the problems of fuels and population shifts into the WUI, there seems to be little prospect that the growing extent of wildfires will be stemmed.

paper released last December by the Forest Service, part of the government’s National Climate Assessment, looked at the effects of climate change on U.S. forest ecosystems. On the subject of fire, it presented a stark and sobering conclusion: by mid-century, wildland fires will be burning twice as much acreage as they do now.

Andrew Breiner contributed the graphics for this piece.

by anric

 

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Watching “Chasing Ice” with the kids

http://www.chasingice.com/

This is a beautifully made movie – about a critically important subject. You can get it directly on netflix or iTunes.  http://www.chasingice.com/ – The kids are all watching. This will change their lives.

chasing-ice

 

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Hurricane update: as much as a quarter of NYC is expected to be in the floodplain

Hurricane update: as much as a quarter of NYC is expected to be in the floodplain

http://www.globalfundexchange.com/blog/2013/06/11/hurricane-update-as-much-as-a-quarter-of-nyc-is-expected-to-be-in-the-floodplain-2/

20130611-075434.jpg

As much as a quarter of New York City’s land area is expected to be in the floodplain by midcentury, doubling the number of residents who could be severely affected by future storms, according to a report released Tuesday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration that recommends billions of dollars in spending.

“As bad as Sandy was, future storms could be even worse,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a major policy speech Tuesday afternoon, according to an excerpt of his remarks released by City Hall on Monday.

Last December, in the wake of superstorm Sandy, the mayor charged a panel of top officials the task of producing a long-term plan to address the risks that climate change poses on the city’s infrastructure, buildings and neighborhoods. On Tuesday, Mr. Bloomberg released that report and outlined a series of recommendations to better prepare the five boroughs for the future.

While City Hall aides said they consider the report to be a comprehensive, highly technical analysis of the city’s vulnerabilities, it was unclear on Monday how much the administration can do to address these issues before the mayor steps down on Dec. 31. On the campaign trail, the candidates hoping to succeed Mr. Bloomberg have been discussing the city’s response to Sandy and their own plans if elected.

Because of rising temperatures and sea levels, even a storm that isn’t as large as Sandy could potentially be more destructive, Mr. Bloomberg reports.

“We expect that by midcentury, up to one-quarter of all New York City’s land area, where 800,000 residents live today, will be in the floodplain, If we do nothing, almost a 10th of our waterfront—more than 40 miles or so—could see flooding on a regular basis, just during normal high tides.”

The Oct. 29 storm resulted in widespread flooding and power outages, and the shuttering of the city’s subway system.

The total death toll related to the storm was 117, with more than 40 in New York City. About half of the storm’s drowning deaths occurred in flooded homes in the city’s mandatory evacuation zone.

Anric Blatt, Global Fund Exchange Group

by anric

 

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Hurricane update: as much as a quarter of NYC is expected to be in the floodplain

Hurricane update: as much as a quarter of NYC is expected to be in the floodplain

http://www.globalfundexchange.com/blog/2013/06/11/hurricane-update-as-much-as-a-quarter-of-nyc-is-expected-to-be-in-the-floodplain/

20130611-075434.jpg

As much as a quarter of New York City’s land area is expected to be in the floodplain by midcentury, doubling the number of residents who could be severely affected by future storms, according to a report to be released Tuesday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration that recommends billions of dollars in spending.

“As bad as Sandy was, future storms could be even worse,” Mr. Bloomberg plans to say during a major policy speech Tuesday afternoon, according to an excerpt of his remarks released by City Hall on Monday.

Last December, in the wake of superstorm Sandy, the mayor charged a panel of top officials the task of producing a long-term plan to address the risks that climate change poses on the city’s infrastructure, buildings and neighborhoods. On Tuesday, Mr. Bloomberg is slated to release that report and outline a series of recommendations to better prepare the five boroughs for the future.

While City Hall aides said they consider the report to be a comprehensive, highly technical analysis of the city’s vulnerabilities, it was unclear on Monday how much the administration can do to address these issues before the mayor steps down on Dec. 31. On the campaign trail, the candidates hoping to succeed Mr. Bloomberg have been discussing the city’s response to Sandy and their own plans if elected.

Because of rising temperatures and sea levels, even a storm that isn’t as large as Sandy could potentially be more destructive, Mr. Bloomberg plans to say in his speech.

“We expect that by midcentury, up to one-quarter of all New York City’s land area, where 800,000 residents live today, will be in the floodplain,” he plans to say. “If we do nothing, almost a 10th of our waterfront—more than 40 miles or so—could see flooding on a regular basis, just during normal high tides.”

The Oct. 29 storm resulted in widespread flooding and power outages, and the shuttering of the city’s subway system.

The total death toll related to the storm was 117, with more than 40 in New York City. About half of the storm’s drowning deaths occurred in flooded homes in the city’s mandatory evacuation zone.

Anric Blatt, Global Fund Exchange Group

by anric

 

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The Odds of Disaster: An Economist’s Warning on Global Warming

The Odds of Disaster: An Economist’s Warning on Global Warming

http://www.globalfundexchange.com/blog/2013/05/25/the-odds-of-disaster-an-economists-warning-on-global-warming/

Are headlines trumpeting the fact that carbon dioxide levels in the earth’s atmosphere have now passed the crucial 400 parts per million for the first time in something like three million years unduly alarmist? Or are they a timely warning?

The current CO2 concentration of 400 ppm is some 40 percent higher than anything that has been attained in the last 800,000 years. The glacial-interglacial cycles began some two and a half million years ago. Scientists estimate that a CO2 concentration of 400 ppm has not been attained for at least 3 million years. This rapid a change in CO2 concentrations has probably not occurred for tens of millions of years.

The point here is that we are undertaking a colossal planet-wide experiment of injecting CO2 into the atmosphere that goes extraordinarily further and faster than anything within the range of natural CO2 fluctuations for tens of millions of years. The result is a great deal of uncertainty about the possible outcomes of this experiment. The higher the concentrations of CO2, the further outside the range of normal fluctuations is the planet, and the more unsure are we about the consequences.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. It is by now (and for some considerable time has been) beyond any reasonable doubt that increased levels of atmospheric CO2 lead to increased average temperatures. What is still uncertain and the subject of legitimate debate is the magnitude of this effect: how much CO2 leads to how much warming?

What is even more scary, and maybe even catastrophic, is the speed at which we blew right past 400 ppm of CO2, with no visible end in sight — and what that might portend for ultimate global warming.

If we were to continue CO2 emissions up to an atmospheric concentration of 600 ppm of CO2, the IPCC formula translates into an ultimate average temperature change of 3.3 C (5.9 F) with a likely range between 1.1 C (2 F) and 5 C (8.9 F).

If we were to continue CO2 emissions to an atmospheric concentration of 800 ppm of CO2, the IPCC formula translates into an ultimate average temperature change of 4.5 C (8.2 F) with a likely range between 3 C (5.4 F) and 6.8 C (12.3 F).

The world has not seen this level of CO2 concentrations for some 50 million years, when crocodiles and palm trees thrived in the Arctic Circle, Greenland and Antarctica were ice-free, and sea levels were many thousands of feet higher than today.

Here are some questions we should be asking ourselves:

  • What will be the effects of higher temperatures on precipitation patterns?
  • Will monsoon rains be greatly altered?
  • What will happen to Indian or Bangladeshi agriculture?
  • Will dry places in Africa become even drier?
  • Will tropical storms intensify?
  • When will the ice sheets covering Greenland and West Antarctica begin to melt seriously, thereby sharply raising worldwide sea levels?
  • Will basic essential patterns of ocean circulation currents be changed?
  • Will the Amazon rain forest dry out or die back?
  • Will there be large-scale releases of currently contained CO2 and methane (an even more potent greenhouse gas) under melting permafrost, thereby accelerating the process of global warming itself?
  • What about the truly stupendous amounts of methane trapped inside the offshore continental shelves by low temperatures — might they start to become unstuck by higher ocean temperatures, thereby triggering a vicious global warming circle?
  • What will be the effects of large-scale rapid melting of ice in the Arctic Ocean?
  • What about the unknown unknowns we have not even thought of?

Paul Solman just held an excellent interview with Martin L. Weitzman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University that goes into greater detail and brings up some excellent points and analysis. Click here to read the full article. 

by anric

 

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An Inevitable Headline in 2014 — ‘Planet’s CO2 Level Reaches 400 ppm for First Time in Human Existence’

An Inevitable Headline in 2014 — ‘Planet’s CO2 Level Reaches 400 ppm for First Time in Human Existence’

http://www.globalfundexchange.com/blog/2013/05/09/an-inevitable-headline-in-2014-planets-co2-level-reaches-400-ppm-for-first-time-in-human-existence/

Dr. Peter Gleick
Sometime, about one year from now, the front pages of whatever decent newspapers are left will carry a headline like the one above, announcing that for the first time in human existence (or in nearly a million years, or 3 million years, or 15 million years), the global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide — the principal gas causing climate change — will have passed 400 parts per million.

Image courtesy of Peter Gleick via ScienceBlogs. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere measured by Scripps/NOAA at Mauna Loa. We’re rapidly approaching 400 parts per million. Click image to enlarge.

That’s a significant and shocking figure.

Unfortunately, it is only a temporary marker on the way to even higher and higher levels. Here (Figure 1 above) are the most recent (March 2013) data from the Mauna Loa observatory showing the inexorable increase in atmospheric CO2 and the rapid approach to 400 ppm.

There is a range of estimates around the detailed time record of atmospheric composition, and the study of changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the billions of years of the Earth’s existence is an exciting area for research. A commonly cited figure with strong evidence comes from measurements of air trapped in ancient ice cores obtained from Antarctic ice. We now have a detailed 800,000 year record, which shows clearly that atmospheric CO2 levels never approached 400 ppm during this period (as shown in Figure 2).

Image courtesy of Peter Gleick via ScienceBlogs The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, measured over the past 800,000 years. It never came close to 400 ppm. Present day is on the right of the curve. Click image to enlarge.

In December 2009, a research team from UCLA published a paper in Science that suggested we would have to go back at least 15 million years to find carbon dioxide levels approaching today’s levels. This research used isotopic analysis of shells in deep sea sediments and reported that CO2 concentrations may not have exceeded 400 parts per million since the Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum (MMCO) — between 16 million and 14 million years ago. The MMCO was associated with reduced planetary ice volumes, global sea levels a huge 25 to 40 meters higher than today, and warmer ocean temperatures. Decreasing CO2 concentrations after that were associated with substantial global cooling, glaciations, and dropping sea levels.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Peter Gleick is president of the Pacific Institute, an internationally recognized water expert, and a MacArthur Fellow.
Gavin Schmidt of NASA’s GISS has pointed me to research in a December 2011 article in the journal Paleoceanography by Gretta Bartoli, Bärbel Hönisch, and Richard E. Zeebe reporting on paleoclimatic records that suggest that CO2 concentrations (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) may have been around 400 ppm between 2 million and 4.6 million years ago. This evidence comes from isotopes measured in planktic foraminifer shells spanning 2.0 million to 4.6 million years ago and indicates that atmospheric CO2 estimates during the Pliocene gradually declined from just above 400 ppm to around 300 ppm in the early Pleistocene 2 million years ago.

800,000 years ago? Three million years ago? 15 million years ago? More research will continue to clarify the variability of Earth’s atmospheric composition over time, as well as the impacts for the planet as a whole of screwing with it. [That’s a technical term…]

But the more important point to remember is that never in the history of the planet have humans altered the atmosphere as radically as we are doing so now. And the climatic consequences for us are likely to be radical as well, on a time-scale far faster than humans have ever experienced.

–Peter Gleick
Follow Peter Gleick on Twitter.

Originally published by Science Blogs on March 7, 2013.

The post Peter Gleick: An Inevitable Headline in 2014 — ‘Planet’s CO2 Level Reaches 400 ppm for First Time in Human Existence’ appeared first on Circle of Blue WaterNews.

by Anric

 

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