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Poles Melt as 2016 is Hottest Year

Posted on 11 February 2017 by Jerry

It does not wait for the White House. Global warming continues all around the world but especially at the North and South poles. 2016 will go down in the record books as the hottest year on record per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This is the third consecutive year of progressively record temperatures.

An article in Science magazine in the January 27 issue of 2017 stated that this last year was “1.1°C above those in the industrial era, and 0.07°C above the previous record set in 2015.” The article goes on to say this conclusion is based on an “analysis by the Geneva, Switzerland-based World Meteorological Organization (WMO), based on data from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United Kingdom’s Met Office Hadley Centre of Climate Science and Services, and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.”

All indications are the sea ice of both poles was at historic lows. The air temperatures over the artic and Antarctica in November and December 2015 were near normal and yet the sea ice around both poles was at a lower point than many previous years and decades.

An article by the National Snow and Ice Data Center appearing this year in January 2017 said, “Artic sea ice extent for December 2016 averaged 12.10 million square kilometers (4.67 million square miles), the second lowest December extent in the satellite records.”

In a recent January 26, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Herald, Dr. James Renwick of Victoria University is reported to have seen 2017 begin with more than one million square kilometers of ice missing at the two poles when compared with the historical average. It also reported he saw more than three million square kilometers of ice missing over a 76 day stretch of time between October 13 and December 27th of 2016.

I apologize for the absence of written articles recently. In the last couple of months I moved to a new home in another state and attempted to cope with the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. These two developments took the majority of my time during the intervening period. I must admit that my mood turned around with the Women’s March that swept the nation. It was a beacon of hope that there may be hope that the Trump overtures will not go unanswered by the people. In addition, I took comfort in all of the protests about the cancelling of “Obamacare”.

I now see that progress has just gotten harder to come by and that we must keep fighting for what we believe. Of course I continue to believe that we must have solutions to global warming, the ozone hole, nuclear weapons, nuclear technology and synthetic biology/genetic engineering. So we must keep fighting until we solve these four or five problems that we have collectively created.

For more information or to access source documents for this article please use the following links.

http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/hottest-year-on-record/

http://huffingtonpost.com/entry/2016-hottest-year-global-record_us_587e63eee4b07b9dd704f788

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid+11776133

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/sifter/last-year-was-again-hottest-record

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Will We Use an Agreement to Save the Bees?

Posted on 23 August 2016 by Jerry

Scientists report good news about the closing of the ozone hole at the South Pole. Fortunately the human species banned chlorofluorocarbons with the Montreal Protocol that was signed September 16, 1987, almost 30 years ago by 25 nations. Over 165 nations are now a party to the agreement. A couple of recent articles in this blog cite progress made by the US with China and India (see http://iamaguardian.com/1849/u-s-and-india-to-reduce-use-of-hydrofluorocarbons/ and http://iamaguardian.com/1542/the-more-we-understand-ozone-the-less-we-know/ ).

Susan Solomon of MIT led the team that evaluated the ozone hole in Septembers of multiple years. As reported by National Geographic in June of this year, “Solomon’s team found that, in recent years, the hole is not eclipsing the 12-million-square-kilometer threshold until later in the southern spring, which indicates that the September hole is shrinking. In fact, the researchers believe the ozone hole has shrunk by more than 4 million square kilometers. Furthermore, the hole is not as deep as it used to be.”

Human beings have used their chemicals and banned some of them to right ozone wrongs they committed. Can we, will we do it again to save the bees? Can we convince or mandate through law that select businesses will no longer use banned chemicals to hurt the bees? Can we ban or severely limit the use of neonicotinoid insecticides (insecticides based upon the use of a chemical similar to nicotine)?

An article appeared in the New Scientist in July of 2016. It said, “Exposure to neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide widely used on crops, reduced the percentage of viable sperm in male honeybees (drones) and also shortened the insects’ lifespans, according to a study published today (July 27) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.” The study observes that the queens of the colony collect sperm from the drones and store it for future fertilization. If the sperm is bad the future reproduction is compromised.

Shell and Bayer both developed these insecticides. Chemical companies around the globe now sell them. In addition, as of 2011, Bayer, Syngenta, Sumitomo Chemical, Nippon Soda, and Mitsui Chemical made derivatives of these products. These products are now widely used for instance in the U.S. where they are used on 95% of corn and canola crops, most cotton, sorghum, sugar beats and about half of all soybeans. In addition they are used on the majority of all fruits, vegetables and nuts.

An article in Nature magazine was published online in August of this year said as follows, “In 2013, the European Union imposed a 2-year moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids to protect both domesticated and wild bees. This moratorium is scheduled to be formally reviewed in 2016, although exemptions to this ban have already been implemented in the UK.”

In addition the article continued, “Our results provide the first evidence that sub-lethal impacts of neonicotinoid exposure can be linked to large-scale population extinctions of wild bee species, with these effects being strongest for species that are known to forage on oilseed rape crops. These results support the findings of previous studies on commercially bred pollinators that have identified the underlying mechanisms affecting mortality. This study extends existing evidence from a limited number of model species to the wider community of bees found in agricultural landscapes. These findings provide an important contribution to the evidence base underpinning the current moratorium on the use of this insecticide in the European Union.”

In an article on this blog last year (see http://iamaguardian.com//?s=bees&x=0&y=0 ) we described the value of bees to all of us. We said, “Feral bees, or the other 3,999 species in the U.S., are dying.  Feral bees are the large majority of bees.  They are often solitary, stingless and ground nesting.  Estimates place the annual value of all bees in the U.S. Economy at between $14,000,000,000 and $20,000,000,000.”

We continued, “This is because they are a key pollinator of hundreds of plants we depend upon.  These include beans, tomatoes, onions, carrots, oilseeds, sunflowers, fruits and plants such as clover that our livestock are dependent upon.  Another way to estimate the value is to recognize that one out of every three bites of food you take has some dependence on bees.”

So the question is should we seriously restrict or ban entirely the neonicotinoid pesticides? Should this be another Montreal Protocol? Should we find the countries beyond the European Union to support a worldwide ban? The answer is yes!

We should begin our quest to save the bees and ourselves by banning production of the offending chemicals. We should write to our president or presidential candidates to have them initiate the international cooperation to save our bees and ourselves. We should insist that this effort be taken in our name to save the future agriculture needed to feed the world.

Use the following links to access additional information or articles used to prepare this article.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/06/antarctic-ozone-hole-healing-fingerprints/

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36674996

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6296/269

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/despite-volcanic-setback-antarctic-ozone-hole-healing

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/46652/title/Pesticides-Reduce-Male-Honeybee-Fertility–Study/

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/283/1835/20160506

http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms12459

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/bee_collapse_co2_climate_change_agriculture/2991/

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/283/1835/20160506

 

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Will We Poison Ocean Fish With Fukushima Water?

Posted on 17 July 2016 by admin

nuclear-arms-md-336Each day some 300 tons of water is used to cool the broken nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Power facility. This becomes a part of the stored water in the over 10 meter tall steel tanks which hold over 750,000 tons of water stored at the plant (see first link below to see picture). As of February 2016 there were 1,106 water tanks on the property. The water is stored because during this process the water becomes irradiated with nuclear particles that make the water dangerous to human health. This process began following the earthquake that caused the tsunami and meltdowns at the power plant on a fateful day in March 2011.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, that runs this plant, feels that it should be allowed to pump this water into the ocean.   The problem they are trying to solve is what to do with the water. It is only through 10% of the decommissioning process that is expected to take an additional 30 – 40 years.

It treats the stored water before it is pumped into storage or presumably the ocean. Today they have deployed filtration devices that remove the dangerous isotopes of strontium and cesium. Unfortunately, they do not yet remove tritium that is very costly and difficult to remove.

An article that appeared in The Guardian on April 13, 2016 quoted Ken Buesseler, senior scientist of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He was commenting about the tritium released by the Fukushima plant, “I would think more has been put into the Irish Sea (from the UK’s Sellafield plant) than would ever be released off Japan.”

The same article goes on to quote Simon Boxall, an oceanographer at the University of Southampton who said, “Even if all of the contaminated water were released into the ocean, it would not contain enough tritium to be detectable by the time it dispersed and reached the US west coast about four years later.” The isotope has a half-life of 12.3 years and all of the storage tanks at the Fukushima Plant contain only 57ml of tritium.

While Simon Boxall dismisses the radioactive water issue, he is not so dismissive when it comes to the already heavily impacted fishing industry. He felt there might be local effects on fish caught in future years.

This fear is echoed by Dr. Ken Buesseler in an article in the April 24, 2015 Daily Beast.   Remember the water used to cool Fukushima is filtered for cesium.   His concern was cesium that has a half-life of 30 years. He said, “That’s a long time. So you take a contaminated tuna, put it in a can, and it takes 30 years for half of that cesium to decay away per natural processes.”

The quote continued, “The bad news is, the Japanese found, through their own monitoring data, cesium levels weren’t going down in fish. That means they’re getting a source – they’re getting fed more cesium. There are still leaks at the site.” Unfortunately the cesium and strontium remain high.

The point is that no one knows what the water will do to fish caught off Japan or fish in the ocean generally. They are radioactive and neither the oceans nor humans can afford more radioactive fish. Japan’s request to discharge the cooling water into the ocean should be turned down. The world cannot afford this solution.

This is a need that has fallen to the company that runs the plant. It may be that this company cannot afford to own more land as a site for water storage. Governments can help. The Japanese or American or the United Nations can come up with the cash that is needed. A concerned populace should provide the political cover so no one is burdened with the cost of storing 300 tons of water a day. We cannot have this contaminated water in the ocean.

Use the following links to access additional information or see the original documents that were the basis of this article.

https://nuclear-news.net/2016/02/13/more-than-1100-water-storage-tanks-at-fukushima-plant-and-counting/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/13/is-it-safe-to-dump-fukushima-waste-into-the-sea

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/24/how-radioactive-is-the-pacific-really.html

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/five-years-after-meltdown-it-safe-live-near-fukushima

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/is-radioactive-water-from-fukushima-worth-worrying-about

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U.S. and India to Reduce Use of Hydrofluorocarbons

Posted on 06 July 2016 by Jerry

The United States and India reached a far ranging agreement. President Modi of India and President Obama of the U.S. met at the White House in Washington D.C. on Tuesday June 7, 2016. Continuing the world’s progress on replenishing the planet’s ozone, the two countries agreed to modify the Montreal Protocol for India to have an earlier beginning to stop use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s) in its air conditioners.

This would change a clause in the Montreal Protocol that specifies a much longer phase-out period for the air conditioning and refrigerator chemical for developing countries that include India. The expectation is that India’s sale of air conditioning and refrigerators will grow significantly matching the growth of the middle class in India. India’s middle class is expected to burgeon in the near future as a sign of India’s growing wealth.

An article in the June 7, 2016 Washington Post states, “India is the world’s third-largest carbon emitter, and HFCs have a global warming power thousands of time greater than carbon dioxide.” It was mentioned in earlier articles on this blog (http://iamaguardian.com/1542/the-more-we-understand-ozone-the-less-we-know/ )( http://iamaguardian.com/1067/are-we-trading-greenhouse-gas-for-ozone/) that there was a loophole in the Montreal Accord and that HFCs are important for control of global warming as well as the disintegration of ozone.

Progress in eliminating the loophole of the Montreal Accord would come from an amendment to the Accord itself. Modifying the agreement will happen in October of this year in Rwanda. That is the next time countries that are parties to the Montreal Accord will meet. This amendment would also provide funds for developing countries included in the loophole to get a new generation of air conditioners and/or refrigerators for their use.

Another important reason for an agreement between the two countries is that the commitments made recently by countries fighting climate change do not go into effect without 55% of global emissions being represented by countries ready to ratify the agreement. India agreed to ratify the agreement. This agreement puts them over the 55% goal with India’s 4.1% of global emissions and puts these commitments into effect.

As a major architect of this climate change agreement we constructed the agreement to go into effect by going over the 55% goal. This means the U.S. or Obama can now ratify the treaty without congressional involvement. It is then clear the U.S. will now ratify the agreement.

A Guardian article that appeared on June 7, 2016 stated, “Though the two countries said engineering and site development work was starting on six nuclear reactors that US-based Westinghouse Electric Co wants to build in India, there was no agreement about the major unresolved issue: cost and financing. Instead, the countries said only that they had agreed to finish the contractual arrangements by June 2017.

The Washington Post article of June 7, 2016 about the nuclear reactor issues further stated, “On the nuclear power front, Westinghouse Electric (now owned by Toshiba) has been negotiating with India in the hopes of selling it six AP-1000 nuclear reactors. The project site was recently moved to the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where site preparation is underway.”­

The same article further said, “Westinghouse and General Electric’s nuclear arm have been striving to reach a deal with India for more than a decade, and in 2008 Congress approved an agreement to promote nuclear cooperation with India, which critics said undermined half a century of U.S. nonproliferation efforts.”

As can be seen from these reports the Modi/Obama meeting was superbly timed to accomplish multiple objectives. This shows that the Obama administration’s timing is impeccable, knocking off multiple objectives in a single meeting.

In one fell swoop we made significant progress in both the areas of ozone depletion and climate change at a cost of some support for nuclear power in India. This shows we have an administration that is continuing to make progress against some big objectives. We should be heartened by this progress and be optimistic about our future.

Use the following links to obtain additional information or access source documents used in preparation of this article.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/obama-and-indias-modi-pledge-future-deal-on-climate-and-energy/2016/06/07/9cb5bb72-2cc0-11e6-b5db-e9bc84a2c8e4_story.html

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obama-modi-seek-to-rapidly-implement-climate-deal/article/2593199

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/06/world/asia/india-narendra-modi-obama.html

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/25/statements-president-obama-and-prime-minister-modi-republic-india

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/07/india-paris-climate-deal-barack-obama-narendra-modi

http://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/obama-and-india’s-modi-pledge-future-deal-on-climate-and-energy/ar-BBtYJ6n?srcref=rss

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-usa-climate-idUSKCN0YT22U

 

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Two Carbon Capture & Storage Developments

Posted on 03 July 2016 by Jerry

It looks as if baking soda is a key breakthrough in carbon capture and storage. Most countries were assuming a technology breakthrough that would allow them to take carbon out of the atmosphere. We should remember that if there is excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and it contributes to global warming then a key solution is to take this out of the atmosphere. This reality serves as the basis of a significant portion of the carbon reductions signed up for by various countries.

In a new breakthrough scientists have fashioned sponges made with baking soda to capture carbon emissions. They have tested microcapsules filled with their baking soda formula and believe their approach could be up to 40% cheaper than any existing technology.

One article cites Joshua Stolaroff, an environmental researcher at the Livermore Labs. He said, “Like all the commercial CO2 schemes we have today, the goal for large scale implementation is taking many tons of gas from a power plant and finding geological features deep underground where we can inject the CO2 and it will stay indefinitely.”

This leads us to the second development to be called out in research summarized in the June 10, 2016 issue of Science magazine. This article essentially says that 95% of carbon dioxide carbonizes and turns into benign carbonate minerals within two years when injected into a site in Iceland. This assumes the site has the appropriate chemistry and composition for carbon dioxide storage.

The carbon dioxide is dissolved in large amounts of water and then stored in porous basaltic rock. Here it undergoes a chemical transition to become a carbonate that binds to iron, calcium or magnesium, all of which are natural ingredients of the basalt.

Previously, scientists believed it would take hundreds if not thousands of years for carbon dioxide to harden underground. Obviously the faster the carbon dioxide turns to a harder material the better because it can be reused by other industries. An advantage of the microcapsule approach is that the carbon dioxide can be retrieved. If the baking soda solution is heated it turns into a form of gas that increases its value to others.

As said many times, there is reason for optimism in that human beings can find a solution or react fast enough to solve or diminish any problem we might identify. If we could only combine these two technologies or even if we can use them separately, it is clear we are making progress.

Taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere is a part of the worldwide solution to climate change. This baking soda solution and the fact that it takes only two years to mineralize carbon dioxide underground, each point to progress in lessening climate change. This gives us reason for optimism when we think about our scientific community and the great problems confronting us.

Use the following links to obtain more information on these subject areas.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36197603

http://www.energy.gov/articles/these-tiny-capsules-fight-climate-change

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6291/1312

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/pulling_co2_from_the_air_promising_idea_big_price_tag/2197/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/02/07/scientists_use_baking_soda_to_capture_carbon_dioxide/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/06/09/scientists-in-iceland-have-a-solution-to-our-carbon-dioxide-problem-turn-it-into-stone/

 

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