August 15, 2021

Over at Miraz shared a post about being followed home by a heron which stayed on the deck for a visit. Reminded me of Loretta, a Canada goose, a daily visitor the summer of 2009.

Lorretta, our visiting Canada Goose

Climate Change Update: 2021-8-7

Many of these links found via Charles Arthur’s excellent Overspill website.

We’ll start with one of the Sydney Morning Herald story on Australia and Chevron’s attempt to sequester 80% of the carbon dioxide in the production process of Western Australian gas wells over 5 years.. They failed and fell far short of the goal, capturing only around 50% of the production emissions. In his summation Arthur writes:

“It’s often overlooked that to slow or, better, reverse global heating we need to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If we can’t even capture more than half of what’s produced in extracting more fossil fuels (which will then be burnt), then we’re wishing for miracles.“

It’s not surprising that this effort was a failure. I suspect that that is the rule rather than the exception.

Which brings me to another article on what it is we need to do with the CO2 that we’ve already put into the atmosphere. Grist asks: What happens next?

We talk so much about the supreme challenge of reducing emissions — something that already requires transitioning our entire economy away from the burning of fossil fuels, adapting to existing climate threats, and doing all that in a way that at the very least doesn’t add to the burdens of already marginalized communities. It’s hard to imagine that there’s more still to do. Can it really be that, on top of all those tasks, we have to pull carbon out of the atmosphere too?
Well, yes.
It’s not like we can just flip a switch in order to return to preindustrial CO2 levels. Zachary Byrum, a research analyst in carbon removal at the World Resources Institute, likes to compare our atmosphere to a rapidly filling bathtub. “Even if we turn the tap off, we still have a bathtub of CO2 that is full up to the top,” he said. “It might evaporate, but that would take a very long time. You have to make a drain so that the water, or CO2 in this metaphor, can go somewhere, and carbon removal is the means to do that.”

Siberia is burning:

“For a month already you can’t see anything through the smoke,” said Varvara, a 63-year-old pensioner from Teryut, a village in the Oymyakonsky district. “We have already sent the small children away. And the fires are very close, just 2km [1.2 miles] from our village.”

UK heatwave

Climate extremes expert Vikki Thompson at the University of Bristol said: “Heatwaves can have devastating impacts on human health. In the summer of 2020 heatwaves led to an estimated total excess mortality of 2,556. Hot weather causes deaths due to cardio and respiratory problems caused by increased strain on the heart and lungs.

Just a reminder that there was a far more devastating European heat wave in 2003. The death toll for that heat wave exceeded 70,000.

Of course it’s not just humans that are affected by climate change. Every other species we share the planet with is being affected. One example, the Monarch butterfy, whose populations are being decimated by climate change. Western monarchs have lost 99.9 percent of their numbers since the 1980s.

The Guardian has a collection 50 photos of the climate crisis taken over the last 6 months.

Last, and perhaps one of the most worrisome articles I’ve seen recently is this from the Guardian: Warning signs of the Gulf Stream collapse:

Climate scientists have detected warning signs of the collapse of the Gulf Stream, one of the planet’s main potential tipping points.

The research found “an almost complete loss of stability over the last century” of the currents that researchers call the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). The currents are already at their slowest point in at least 1,600 years, but the new analysis shows they may be nearing a shutdown.

Such an event would have catastrophic consequences around the world, severely disrupting the rains that billions of people depend on for food in India, South America and West Africa; increasing storms and lowering temperatures in Europe; and pushing up the sea level off eastern North America. It would also further endanger the Amazon rainforest and Antarctic ice sheets.


July 24, 2021

Some fantastic trail rides recently. Well, they’re always fantastic. But currently just a bit better thanks to all the mushrooms and flowers. So much going on! One of several observed on today’s ride; BlackBerry lily, Iris domestica. Also known as leopard lilly.

Climate change in California

Just a regular reminder that it’s 2021 and virtually no progress is being made to stop the climate crisis.

In California the fields of food being grown and the workers harvesting that food are broiling.

And when they’re not in the heat working they are living in homes without usable water because what is there has been poisoned due to drought and the chemicals used to grow the food.

And, because that’s not bad enough, they’re only paid $15/hr. On days that they can work normal hours that might barely be enough to support a family but many days the extreme heat means they are only allowed to work 5 or 6 hours. It’s not a surprise that farm workers die of heat at roughly 20 times the national rate.

Of course this is just one aspect of how climate changes is affecting just a portion of the state. There’s also the pesky little problem of wild fires which I’m not going to try to discuss here.

Remember, the heat and drought are only getting worse. I suspect that there will come a time in the not too distant future that this will all finally have an impact on the food that is available to the rest of the country. Then maybe more people will care.

Fredericktown Hate Crime?

I went searching this morning for a new podcast, something different from my usual and I came across Un(re)solved. It’s a series exploring un-resolved civil rights cold cases that involved the murders of activists back in the 50s and 60s. A key aspect of the title that I almost overlooked is that these were not necessarily unsolved. But rather, lacked resolution, or, more likely, actual justice, due to the extreme bias of investigations or lack of investigations due to prejudice.

As I listened I just felt that familiar sadness that comes with the acknowledgement that while some progress has been made in the past 70+ years we can see that, given the need for BLM in 2021, we’ve got a long, long way to go.

As I listened, I couldn’t help thinking about the April death of Derontae Martin here in Fredericktown. The local sheriff released a statement that “the preliminary evidence indicated the male subject died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.”

Given the time and location of the death, this seems unlikely.

While the local paper’s article linked above provides very little context to the death, others have stepped in with more details. This report from St. Louis television station KSDK is a good place to start.

While it’s yet to be proven, these details provide a context of the death that seem to indicate that it’s possible (I’d say likely) that this was not a suicide but a hate crime.

Yes, we have a long, long way to go.


June 16, 2021

A small thing that I enjoy everyday but have rarely if ever mentioned here: bird song. Sitting here this cool morning with my windows open and I’m listening to what may be a blue-gray gnatcatcher. A tiny little bird. Other times I listen on the trail when walking or riding. It’s fair to say that bird song is one of my favorite things.

A young woman of color engineer is living her dream at NASA!

An excellent interview with Tiera Fletcher over on Apple’s Developer website. I didn’t quite catch how it relates to Apple, WWDC or the developer website specifically but it’s inspiring nonetheless! She has been helping design components of NASA’s Space Launch System as a part of the Artemis Program.

Artemis-1 is set to launch in November 2021 and will be an un-crewed 25 day mission to test and certify the Orion spacecraft.

Fixing Climate Change and Biodiversity at the same time

How to protect species and save the planet at the same time

Humanity is struggling to contain two compounding crises: skyrocketing global temperatures and plummeting biodiversity. But people tend to tackle each problem on its own, for instance by deploying green energies and carbon-eating machines while roping off ecosystems to preserve them. But in a new report, 50 scientists from around the world argue that treating each crisis in isolation means missing out on two-fer solutions that resolve both. Humanity can’t solve one without also solving the other.

The report is the product of a four-day virtual workshop attended by researchers of all stripes and is a collaboration between the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In light of the Paris Agreement, it’s meant to provide guidance on how campaigns that address biodiversity might also address climate change, and vice versa.

Seems like this is obvious.

Dark matter galaxy structure

Listening to episode 252 of Science sort of I came across this beautiful discussion of the evidence for dark matter and role it played in the formation of galaxies in the early universe. Here’s an excerpt where Ben Tippet is discussing dark matter in the computer modeling of galaxy evolution:

The galaxies wouldn’t evolve properly or in the correct timescale unless there was dark matter included in the simulations. And so, the modern description for how galaxies formed, in order for them to form in the timescale we see them forming using our telescopes, is if dark matter started out distributed everywhere. Dark matter was the first thing to collapse gravitationally, it formed a filamentary structure, in essence there are long strings of dense distributions of dark matter in the universe.

It collapsed first and then the regular, bosonic matter collapsed around the concentrations of the dark matter. The luminous galaxies we see collapsed around the pre-existing dark matter galaxies. So, there is a tremendous amount of both corroborative and direct evidence that dark matter exists.


June 4, 2021

American Water Willow

I’ve seen these before and have been waiting for them to bloom amongst some rocks near my daily trail ride.