It is almost National Point Out Dog Doo Day. The exact day depends on your local conditions. This is when the snow banks melt, and you can find dog doo left over the winter everywhere.
These days this is a bit of an atavistic celebration, like the King Cake eaten at Mardi Gras. Nobody who gets the king in the King Cake ever actually gets to become king any more, and because of government interference in doggie deification practices there is precious little dog doo to go around anymore.
But at Mount Everest, the shit is about to hit the fan. And by “fan” I mean “global warming.”
The Washington Post, always on top of important news, has the story.
For some 62 years over 4,000 people have climbed Mount Everest, with many more getting part way up. Few of them, it seems, have practiced the age-old rule of hiking in the wilderness: Leave only your footprints, and poop as necessary, behind. The routes up the great mountain are littered with broken equipment, empty O2 canisters, trash, and dead bodies (people die doing this). And, of course, human excrement galore.
As the glaciers melt due to global warming, this stuff is making an appearance. The Washington Post reports Mark Jenkins as saying, “The two standard routes, the Northeast Ridge and the Southeast Ridge, are … disgustingly polluted, with garbage leaking out of the glaciers and pyramids of human excrement befouling the high camps.” (See also Maxed Out on Everest.)
Apparently the cesspool left by the Conquerors of Everest has reached the point that it is now a health problem. Wapo:
Ang Tshering, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, warned that pollution — particularly human waste — has reached critical levels and threatens to spread disease on the world’s highest peak.
It is estimated that approximately 26,500 pounds of human excrement generated in the area every years, though most of that is carried by Sherpas to a disposal site, which apparently has become a point pollution source because of this. The excrement does not deteriorate very quickly, so it builds up. Yaks fall into the disposal pits now and then.
New rules are being implemented. But the poop in the ground already is not going to go away any time soon.
Circuses are famous for their clowns, and the captive elephants that are forced to do humiliating things. I haven’t heard any reports of the clowns being mistreated or dying unexpectedly, but we do hear this about elephants.
This all makes me wonder why people go to circuses. I suppose it is something to do.
Anyway, people have been complaining for some time now that circuses should not have elephants. This is, apparently, coming to fruition at least in part; Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus is expected to phase out the elephants by 2018.
Executives from Feld Entertainment, Ringling’s parent company, said the decision to end the circus’s century-old tradition of showcasing elephants was difficult and debated at length. Elephants have often been featured on Ringling’s posters over the decades. The decision is being announced Thursday.
“There’s been somewhat of a mood shift among our consumers,” said Alana Feld, the company’s executive vice president. “A lot of people aren’t comfortable with us touring with our elephants.”
It seems that oil executives, possibly in concert with the Oklahoma University administration, may have pressured scientists to downplay the link between fracking and earthquakes, according to EnergyWire. It is a long and complicates story and you should go to the source to learn more. Briefly,
Oklahoma’s state scientists have suspected for years that oil and gas operations in the state were causing a swarm of earthquakes, but in public they rejected such a connection.
When the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) did cautiously agree with other scientists about such a link, emails obtained by EnergyWire show the state seismologist was called into meetings with his boss, University of Oklahoma President David Boren, and oil executives “concerned” about the acknowledgement.
One of the oilmen was Continental Resources Chairman Harold Hamm, a leading donor to the university.
The seismologist, Austin Holland, told a senior U.S. Geological Survey official that as far back as 2010, OGS officials believed an earthquake swarm near Oklahoma City might have been triggered by the “Hunton dewatering,” an oil and gas project east of the city.
“Since early 2010 we have recognized the potential for the Jones earthquake swarm to be due to the Hunton dewatering,” Holland wrote to USGS science adviser Bill Leith in 2013. “But until we can demonstrate that scientifically or not we were not going to discuss that publicly.”
Instead, he pointed to changing lake levels.
And when USGS officials linked a “remarkable” surge in earthquakes in Oklahoma and other states to drilling waste disposal in 2012, OGS criticized their “rush to judgment.”
Holland told EnergyWire the intense personal interest shown by Boren, Hamm and other leaders hasn’t affected his scientific findings or those of OGS.
“None of these conversations affect the science that we are working on producing,” Holland told EnergyWire. “We have the academic freedoms necessary for university employees doing research.”
But Holland and OGS have been the voice of skepticism in the scientific community about connections between oil production activities and the hundreds of earthquakes that have shaken the state.
Graphic from here.
“Oh, hello, RP, come on in. Great to finally have a student come by for office hours! What can I do you for?”
“Well, Professor, I think I’ve narrowed down my undergraduate thesis topic, and I wanted to run it by you and see what you think.”
“Certainly, my boy, that’s a great idea. Much better to get some input on the project near the beginning so you don’t end up going off the rails later on! So, have a seat and tell me what you were thinking.”
RP remained standing.
“Well, eventually I want to prove that global warming isn’t so bad.”
“Whoa, hold on a second, that’s rather begging the question, don’t you think? We don’t prove or disprove something like that. We propose hypotheses and them and the data and the science lead us where they may. I’m pretty sure global warming has a down side, but even if I didn’t know that, I wouldn’t think you’d start out an undergraduate thesis with a presumption it is good or bad.”
“Well, professor, I get that, but I actually wanted to look at the damage cost of bad storms, how that goes down rather than up over time, but first I just wanted to show that there are fewer hurricanes.”
“Um, RP, you can ask the question, ‘Is there a change in hurricane frequency’ for a certain time range, or ‘is there a change in damage costs’ then see if it goes up or down, but you can’t set out to ‘prove there are fewer…’”
“Oh, I’ve got data, Professor, I just need to work out the statistics. So I have a plan.”
“Well, OK, then, what’s the plan, then? Tell me about your data? A quick warning, first. Hurricanes are actually rare beasts, when you think about it. Think about most statistics. To characterize a population you want minimally dozens of observations. To look at change over time you might want dozens a year. That’s the only way to track something like hurricanes.”
“OK, fine, professor. Well, first, I am going to look only at Atlantic hurricanes.”
“RP, the Atlantic hurricane basis is the smallest one, it has the fewest hurricanes. Plus, under global warming while tropical storms are expected to increase, it is thought the Atlantic may experience frequent years with significantly attenuated tropical storm activity owing to Saharan dust and teleconnections with …”
“Right, then, I’m only going to look at the biggest ones, maybe just Category 3 and 4.”
“RP, that is exactly the opposite of what you should do, that reduces your sample size even more you should include all…”
“Then, I’m only going to count landfalling hurricanes.”
“RP, you have pretty much guaranteed that your sample sizes are going to be too small, you’ve latched on to the part of the system with the highest variability and …”
“So thanks for the great advice, professor, I’ve got to go!”
RP steps out into the hallway and sees his friend. “Hey, wait up, Andy, I’m done with my meeting about my thesis!” The door closes behind him.
Office hours can be so lonely. Even when a student actually shows up.
… violated the Constitution when it policed to raise money and with a racial bias toward African-Americans, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the report.
The investigation, the source says, concluded that blacks were disproportionately targeted by the police and the justice system and that has led to a lack of trust in police and courts and has led to few partnerships for public safety.
The report will be released on Wednesday. But there are some tidbits available including two emails between police and court employees.
One says Obama will not be president for long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.” Another says a black woman in New Orleans was admitted to a hospital to end her pregnancy and then got a check two weeks later from “Crime Stoppers.”
According to the data assembled in the report, African Americans constitute 67% of the Ferguson population but make up 85% of the vehicular stops and 93% of those arrested, and are twice as likely to be searched as whites but less likely to possess drugs or weapons one searched.
In the court sytem, African Americans were 68% less likely than non-African Americans to have cases dismissed by municipal judges and more likely to have arrest warrents taken out on them. NPR reports that “From October 2012 to October 2014, 96 percent of people arrested in traffic stops solely for an outstanding warrant were black,” and “Blacks accounted for 95 percent of jaywalking charges, 94 percent of failure to comply charges and 92 percent of all disturbing the peace charges.”
“Please Don’t Paint Our Planet Pink!: A Story for Children and their Adults” is a new children’s book by Gregg Kleiner about global warming. The idea is simple. Imagine if you could see CO2? In the book, it is imagined to be pink. The imagining takes the form of a quirky father, one imagines him to be an inventor of some sort, coming up with the idea of making goggles that would allow you to see CO2 as a pink gas. This is all described by the man’s patient but clearly all suffering son, who eventually dons the prototype goggles and sees for himself.
I read this to Huxley, age 5, and he loved it. He kept asking questions, and saying things like, “Is that true? Really?” I knew he would enjoy the book for its witty chatter and excellent illustrations, but frankly I did not expect him to be enthralled. He is fairly laid back when it comes to matters of science, nature, and for that matter, mathematics. He tends to absorb, then, later makes up song about it or comes up with difficult questions. His reaction was unique.
Bill McKibben’s reaction was pretty strong too. He is quoted as saying, “I’ve often wondered what would happen if CO2 were visible. Now I know!” … except he already knew. There would be pink everywhere. At the density of about 400ppm. More than the 350 value that gives his organization its name!
I had only one small problem with the book, and that is the description of what fossil fuels are. The majority of oil probably formed in aquatic, mainly marine, environments as the detritus of mostly small organisms and invertebrates, not dinosaurs and old trees like the book says. Coal is probably most plant matter, but boggy plants and detritus formed in low spots. And so on. Had I edited the book, I would have asked for a sentence or two to broaden the concept of where fossil fuels come from, and maybe a sentence or two to underscore the fact that the fossil fuels we use today were deposited in fits and starts of many tens of millions of years. The process of painting our planet pink over just several decades has released a huge percentage of that Carbon, mainly as CO2. It is like taking five years to fill up a glass of milk then spilling half of it on the sofa in one second. (A proper analogy for the targeted reading age for this great book.)
People often ask me for a recommendation on a book about climate change for kids. This book is great for that purpose. It fits a wide range of ages, but primarily little kids and elementary school. This is not an explainer on global warming, but rather, a great story that gives a sense of the importance of climate change without totally freaking out the audience. The illustrations by Laurel Thomson are excellent.
Of you want to do something about climate change, buy a few copies and give them to your local school’s library (they probably call it a media center) or your local preschool. And your kid, of course. Or to your annoying climate denying cousin’s kids. That would be good.
Gregg Kleiner also wrote Where River Turns to Sky.
“You can believe the United States Navy or you can believe the Senator with the snowball.”
“You can believe the Pope or you can believe the Senator with the snowball.”
“We can believe [great American corporations] or we can believe the Senator with the snowball.”
“You can believe every single major American scientific society, or you can believe the Senator with the snowball.”
Peter Sinclair has been running a series of “elevator pitches” by established climate scientists. This is the latest one, by Simon Donner:
Remember earlier this year when Senator James Inhofe stood on the floor of the United States Senate and displayed a list of supposed climate scientists who question the reality of global warming? That list was produced by the Heartland Institute, who now use the list and it’s infamy to raise money. One of the “climate scientists” on that list was Willie Soon. We’ve talked about Willie Soon before (see: Science Denialists Make Fake Journal, Get Shut Down, Willie Soon Gate, and Willie Soon, will he soon be fired?) and he is now been exposed by the New York Times for ethical violations. I understand that he has testified before Congress before. I wonder if his testimony can now be re-examined.
Anyway, just thought you’d like to know. And that you might enjoy the above meme.
Oh, and there has been some interest in who is on the list. This is the list of “those who can not be challenged!”… Continue reading
The US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Department of Health and Human Services, has issued a report recommending that Americans eat less meat. The executive summary of the report is here (pdf), and the web site for the report is here. It says,
The overall body of evidence examined by the 2015 DGAC identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains. Vegetables and fruit are the only characteristics of the diet that were consistently identified in every conclusion statement across the health outcomes. Whole grains were identified slightly less consistently compared to vegetables and fruits, but were identified in every conclusion with moderate to strong evidence. For studies with limited evidence, grains were not as consistently defined and/or they were not identified as a key characteristic. Low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, nuts, and alcohol were identified as beneficial characteristics of the diet for some, but not all, outcomes. For conclusions with moderate to strong evidence, higher intake of red and processed meats was identified as detrimental compared to lower intake. Higher consumption of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages as well as refined grains was identified as detrimental in almost all conclusion statements with moderate to strong evidence.
Climate change might be a warning to us all … a Global Warning…
How do you know you are in a “third world” country with a militaristic dictatorship? There are a lot of clues, but one of the easiest methods is to drive around and see how often you go through police or military checkpoints. You can practice this method by going to Florida.
And, while you are there, go ahead and express your rights. Like this:
I don’t have a strong opinion on dog sledding, but if you are a musher you need to know that, like ice fishing and hockey, dog sledding is at risk from climate change. From Vice News, about Alaska’s Iditarod:
…on Tuesday, race organizers announced that the starting point of this year’s race will be moved due to a lack of snow, a change that has happened only one other time in the race’s 43-year history, in 2003.
“While some snow did fall east of the Alaska Range over the past couple of weeks, other parts of the trail, in very critical areas, did not get much or any of it,” Iditarod CEO Stan Hooley said.
Meanwhile, it appears likely that global warming is causing Grizzly Bears to come out of hibernation early, so be careful if you are in or near Yellowstone:
On Monday, park officials confirmed sightings of a grizzly in the center of the park, feeding on a bison carcass. The bears don’t usually begin to emerge from hibernation until the beginning of March, making this bear’s arrival about three weeks early.
“We have had bears observed in February before, in a few other years,” Kerry Gunther, Yellowstone National Park’s bear management biologist, told VICE News. “But this year, lately, it’s been unseasonably warm. Certainly springlike temperatures, almost summerlike temperatures.”
Several grizzlies have also been spotted beyond the park’s boundaries in Montana and Wyoming.
And if you are a ski bunny, Climate Change Could Decimate the American Ski Industry
…The Summit at Snoqualmie, near Seattle, closed its highest and last remaining open slope last week because of poor conditions. The situation there hues closely to what’s happening all across the West.
“Based on a 60-year record, the total amount of snow that we’ve lost in the West varies anywhere from 15 to 60 percent,” Noah Molotch, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, told VICE News.
… winter sports recreation generates $67 billion annually for the US economy, propping up 900,000 jobs. Its collapse could kill entire local and regional economies across the West or in New England.
A new study has suggested that migratory songbirds in East Asia are in trouble, and has called for national action and international co-operation to deal with the threats posed.
The study reveals that several migratory songbirds are declining in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, owing to a range of threats across many countries. …
The East Asian-Australasian Flyway, running from Siberia and Alaska down to South-East Asia and Australia, supports the greatest diversity of migratory birds on the planet, with 170 long-distance migrant songbirds and more than 80 short-distance migrants…..
Currently available evidence suggests that habitat loss and hunting are the two most significant threats on the East Asia flyway. Other problems such as invasive species, climate change and collision with man-made structures can also have a big impact.
Some species, like the Vulnerable Izu Leaf-warbler and Pleske’s Grasshopper Warbler, are particularly at risk due to their small breeding ranges and because their entire wintering ranges remain unknown to scientists – thus hampering effective conservation. The Endangered Yellow-breasted Bunting used to be abundant, but has drastically declined as large numbers are trapped annually for food in South-East Asia and southern China.
Levi’s Stadium, in San Francisco, is being adapted to play a major hockey series. Since that is apparently interesting, the NHL set up a camera to create a time lapse film of the process.
Then, something happened that no one expected … Continue reading
Or, maybe, do tase me…
Two bucks in the annual mating ritual lock horns, one dies, they remain stuck. Never mind what the news caster says about territory. I don’t know why he said that: Continue reading
Apple Computer had earmarked $850 million towards the construction of a solar energy plant in Monterey County to cover all of the electrical power it requires for all of its facilities in California. CEO Tim Cook is quoted as saying “We know at Apple that climate change is real. Our view is that the time for talk is past and the time for action is now.”
There is reasonable hope that the California drought will diminish in intensity as the winter progresses, but there is also a reasonable concern that it will persist. See this recent post by Peter Gleick for a good summary. Since the drought is almost certainly linked to climate change, even if the drought diminishes over the coming months, having a major drought in California with increased frequency may be expected.
Recent research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, suggests that the present drought is the worse in a very long time. From a summary in Science:
…Griffin and Anchukaitis use tree-ring records of past climate conditions to determine how the current drought compares to other droughts since 800 CE. Based on metrics for soil moisture and for precipitation, they conclude that 2014 was the worst single drought year in at least the past 1200 years, caused by very low (but not unprecedented) precipitation and record high temperatures. The 3-year period from 2012 to 2014 was the worst unbroken drought interval in the past millennium.
A key finding is this: While rainfall rates per se over the last few years are not the lowest ever, and such low rainfall periods have frequently happened, the present drought is made much worse by exceptionally high temperatures.
Added: We are comparing California to California here, not California to everything.
Good question! It depends. And I’m not an expert, but Amy Bickel had details for you. For instance,
At least one policy endorsement obtained by The News showed that earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” were excluded from earthquake coverage.
It could mean potential litigation if a claim was ever filed and denied by the company, Kansas’ former insurance commissioner noted.
While hydraulic fracturing isn’t suspected as the cause of Kansas quakes, state geologists have linked southern Kansas’ earthquakes to the saltwater injection wells used by oil companies. The hydraulic fracturing process creates more wastewater, which, in turn, is injected into the Mississippian formation.
The endorsement also notes that “sequestration of carbon dioxide or any other gas, solid or liquid” is also among the exclusions listed. It’s unclear if that definition could include wastewater disposal.
Other companies, however, said they had not heard of that exclusion in their own policies.
In a way, this makes sense, because earthquakes are an act god. In this case, I assume Hades or Pluto (gods of the underworld).
Or the god of hell perhaps. Which suggests that if you want insurance for human caused earthquakes you will need to see Ms. Waite, who is in charge of such things. First name Helen. If you want damage to your property caused by Big Fossil to be covered you’ll have to to go Helen Waite.
Now we know …