Zika and the New Climate Dystopia — Human Hothouse as Disease Multiplier

As of today, authorities in Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, El Salvador and Venezuela were urging women to avoid getting pregnant… It is unthinkable. Or rather, it is something out of a science fiction story, the absolute core of a dystopian future. — Bill McKibben in a recent statement on global warming and the now pandemic Zika virus.

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There are a plethora of diseases out there. Diseases we don’t know about. Diseases locked away in far-off, rarefied corners of the world. Diseases that operate in small niche jungle environments. Diseases that live in only cave systems or within a single species. Diseases that were locked away millions of years ago in the now-thawing ice. Diseases that, if given a vector — or a means to travel outside of their little rarefied organic or environmental niches — can wreak untold harm across wide spans of the globe.

Countries with Reported Active Zika Transmission

(Countries with reported active Zika transmission. Until recently, Zika flare-ups had been isolated to Central Africa and French Polynesia. Now the virus is a global pandemic with World Health Organizations authorities concerned infections could top 4 million. Image source: The CDC.)

Such was the case with the once humble Zika virus. Discovered in 1947 in Central Africa, the disease first only existed in monkeys. The virus took 7 years to make the leap into humans in 1954. But, at first, symptoms were only mild and for most of the history of this disease it was considered to be a less harmful form of the Dengue Fever Virus — to which it is closely related. The virus, at first, appeared only to result in fever, headaches, rash and back pain — if any symptoms appeared at all. It would take much longer for the devastating and horrific after-effects of an, at first, seemingly harmless virus to begin to show up.

Until 2007, when the virus began to grow to its current pandemic levels, it was mostly isolated to Central Africa and a region of French Polynesia in the Pacific. Both areas are among the warmest and wettest in the world. Both featuring very large and persistent populations of the kinds of mosquitoes most suited for the transmission of this, now widely-feared, illness.

An Issue of The Expanding Range of Disease Vectors

In epidemiology parlance, a vector is a disease carrier. In the case of Zika, the primary carrier is the mosquito. In total, seven species of the Aedes variety of mosquitoes are known to carry Zika.

Under normal climate conditions, the ranges of these disease-bearing insects would tend to remain rather stable. But that’s not the case in the current world. Since 1880, the world has been warming and the extents of disease vector mosquitoes has been expanding. Under the current regime of 1 C temperature increase over the past 136 years, Aedes aegypti — one of the chief transporters of the Zika virus — has expanded its range on out of the tropics and into increasingly higher Latitudes.

Global_Aedes_aegypti_distribution

(Global Aedes aegypti distribution in 2015 — red indicates highest frequency, blue indicates zero frequency. Aedes aegypti is a disease vector for viruses like Dengue and Zika. As the globe has warmed, their range has been expanding into ever higher Latitudes. Image source: Aedes aegypti Distribution.)

But not only is the global extent of these disease carriers expanding — so is their persistence in the regions into which they’d previously occupied. Regions that may have seen only one or two weeks out of the year in which female, Zika infected, mosquitoes were active may now experience a month or two of exposure. And regions in which the mosquito was active for only a few months may now see active, disease-bearing populations for half of the year or more.

It is this increasing duration and expansiveness of disease vector exposure that is one of the most dangerous epidemiological impacts of climate change. Not only does climate change enable the movement of diseases out of previous isolation in remote reservoirs. It also enables an ever-broadening range of transport as the areas in which disease-carrying species are adapted to live dramatically expands both in terms of space and in terms of time of exposure.

It’s as if we decided to load up trillions of mosquitoes with what amounts to biological live rounds and then gave them the ability to unload that deadly ammunition over broader and broader expanses of the globe. That’s basically what you get when you warm the world. An expansion and global invasion of hitherto unknown illnesses spread throughout the world by vectors like the mosquito.

Zika’s Viral Explosion Occurs During Hottest Year on Record

Returning to our tale of the Zika virus’s expansion during 2007 through 2016, we find that Zika during this time-frame had leapt out of its traditional 20th Century range and expanded coincident with the spread of Aedes variety mosquitoes along the warming and moistening climate bands. In 2007, the first leap outside of Central Africa and French Polynesia occurred in Yap — a part of the Federated States of Micronesia.

The epidemic range then again expanded through 2014 into Easter Island, broader Polynesia, the Cook Islands, and New Caledonia. The geographic expansion of this illness along the Pacific Island chains indicates that Zika’s increased virulence likely sparked from the French Polynesian strain and not from the strain in Africa.

Then, in 2015, coordinate with the hottest global temperatures on record, Zika leapt out of its Pacific Island basin environmental confines and spread into Brazil and the Caribbean. The virus subsequently spread through a broad section of Central and South America. As of yesterday, travel warnings of possible exposure to the Zika virus included this list of 22 countries:

Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Samoa, Suriname, and Venezuela.

By today,  the World Health Organization was issuing warnings that as many as 4 million people may end up being infected before the most recent outbreak is finished.

The New Climate Dystopia — We are Now Telling Women Not to Have Children

Like many viral fevers, Zika attacks the nervous systems of those it infects. And though initial onset symptoms may seem mild, with up to 80 percent of those infected showing no symptoms at all, the virus may cause severe longer-term damage to both the unborn and to vulnerable individuals. For as infection rates for the virus increased what were suspected to be related instances of a kind of temporary paralysis called Guillian Barre Syndrome and a terrifying shrinking of the heads of unborn infants called microcephaly also spiked.

Microcephaly

(A spike in microcephaly rates — a tragic shrinking of the heads of unborn children as a result of viral damage to the nervous system — among infants in regions of Zika virus outbreak has raised global concerns about the virus’s ongoing impact. Most particularly, women in an expanding number of countries are now being asked to refrain from having children for months or even years. Image source: The CDC.)

From BBC today:

The virus, which has no symptoms 80% of the time, is blamed for causing stunted brain development in babies. About 3,500 cases of microcephaly have been identified in Brazil so far. And medical staff in Recife, a state capital in north-east Brazil, say they are struggling to cope with at least 240 cases of microcephaly in children.The city’s Health Secretary, Jailson Correia, a specialist in tropical diseases, told the BBC he and others needed “to fight very hard”.

These are profoundly terrible impacts. Ones that were not initially expected from a virus that at first seemed so innocuous. And it’s this threat of Zika-spawned microcephaly among infants that is spurring everything from travel warnings to the hitherto unprecedented measure of some countries requesting that their human populations take the extreme step of avoiding pregnancy.

As of Monday authorities in Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, El Salvador and Venezuela were urging women not to get pregnant. The pregnancy moratorium — which is voluntary — ranges in duration from a few months to two years in the case of El Salvador. And the reason for the requested moratorium is sadly practical. Authorities in these countries are now forced to choose between asking women to avoid pregnancy or having their healthcare systems overwhelmed by infants suffering from microcephaly.

With a vaccine likely 10-12 years away for Zika, with 4 million cases expected in the current outbreak, and with the range of Aedes type mosquitoes who carry the virus continuing to expand on the back of a human-forced warming of the globe, we are sadly just at the beginning of this particular tragedy. An event that, as Bill McKibben noted in The Guardian earlier this week, has leapt fully into the realm of dystopia.

A Profound Dislocation For Humankind

Microcephaly among infants is both tragic and terrifying. Its impact strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a human being. If a virus, driven to far-flung regions by the heating of the world through fossil fuel burning, is able to cripple our children while still in the womb, our sense of security is shattered as we witness heart-breaking brutality. It’s the kind of thing so terrible it couldn’t come from the human imagination. Which is why, when we witness it, we experience a strange sense of dislocation. A surreal sense that all is not right. Like the moment after the car hit the telephone pole, the moment you’re still flying through the air flung free of the vehicle. The moment just before the inevitable impact with the pavement.

But the impact, sadly, does come. Not only are we turning many of the species of this world into climate orphans. Into creatures without a safe space in which to live and thrive, we are also doing it to ourselves. For the children of Zika are climate orphans too. The tragic victims of an expanding range of environmental conditions that are hazardous to human life. And Zika is but one example of the deadly diseases, extreme weather, sea level rise, glacial collapse, ocean death, and crop disruption we are now forcing upon the human habitat. A habitat we are rendering less livable for ourselves and pretty much everything else.

That’s what terminal dislocation means — to be forceably ejected. To be suddenly introduced into a very hostile environment in which survival, and in this case reproduction, is suddenly a crap shoot. For human beings, this is a profound dislocation. One that makes the world we’re living in now seem all-too-alien. For we’re not living in the world we are used to. And the one we’re making is both terrible and tragic. And, in all honesty, we desperately need to stop the damage before some other very big, or terrible, or essential thing breaks free.

Links:

The Zika Virus Foreshadows Our Climate Dystopian Future

About Climate Change and Vector-Borne Diseases

The CDC

The Zika Virus

Mosquito Borne Zika Virus Spreading Explosively

Aedes Aegypti

UCAR: Climate Change and Vector-Borne Disease

Brazilian City Sees Spike in Microcephaly Cases

Facts about Microcephaly

2 C Warming Increases Mosquito Population by 50 Percent

Hat tip to Umbrios

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Hat tip to DT Lange

Hat tip to RedSky

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359 Comments

  1. Greg

     /  January 28, 2016

    This is one more surprise. Disease and death were predicted but thus is just so cruel. Life is full of injustice.

    Reply
    • It’s pretty scary. Something that really gets to you. I don’t think it could get more personal than microcephaly.

      ********

      Just a general note — there is no common mosquito. There are over 3,500 species of which Aedes aegypti is among the most common. There is also no Aedes Mosquito. Aedes is a genus which includes many individual species (genera). Sky News and Infowars are circulating inaccurate information on this one. I’d be careful about those sources in any case given past misinformation.

      Greg — not directed at you. Just a general note.

      Reply
  2. Loni

     /  January 28, 2016

    We’re definitely entering a world of our own making. Whether we’re clever enough to live in it is still to be seen.

    Reply
  3. Jacob

     /  January 28, 2016

    Thank you, Robert, and those who have been posting on this story, for your continuing work, unfortunate though it is.

    As a new parent with a year-old toddler this event strikes deep into my heart and tears it open. I can’t even imagine. It’s surreal to me and all-too-real for those parents dealing with it. My heart goes out to the children and their parents. Every time I think of them I find myself driven to tears and wishing I could do something to stop it.

    Add yet another nightmare to the growing list of unimaginable scenarios brought upon us (and the innocent) by our own transgressions. It angers me deeply to see people excusing our crimes and further to deny them. So many dots, so many connecting threads, and so much rampant denial. This whole thing has the effect of further jading an already very jaded individual.

    I was opposed to bringing another life into this world, for good reason, but it happened. Now I have the good fortune of raising my child, and the misfortune of doing so while dealing with the dangers of 21st century life both foreseen and unforeseen. This burgeoning epidemic qualifies as both in my opinion. Not that I had any plans to go to the nations now being affected by the Zika virus, but it sounds like it will be coming here soon enough regardless.

    The chickens are coming home to roost. Unfortunately, while the innocent are bearing the brunt first, the criminals remain safely isolated from it all.

    Reply
    • Well, not entirely safe now. Fossil fuel markets are in freefall. As they should be given the constant hits that keep coming. Worst investment decision of all time, really.

      Reply
      • Jacob

         /  January 28, 2016

        Indeed. Far too short-sighted, far too concentrated, and far too temporary gains when considering the long term and widespread losses. Hopefully that market free-fall continues. Whatever bumps that lay along the road to transitioning away from fossil fuels, those pains are more desirable than those we’ll face in not making that transition.

        Reply
      • Wait until the courts start charging the fossil fuel corporations climate damages. Those investments will look like tickets to bankruptcy, I think.

        The fossil fuel corporations are powerful – ExxonMobil has gross revenues that are equal to the gross national product of the 30th largest economy on earth – Thailand. But are they powerful enough to escape both criminal and civil liability for the side effects of their products – forever?

        It’s a corrupt world, but is the world really that corrupt, that the people who are wrecking a living biosphere for current and especially future generations will escape justice forever?

        The scientific fact that total greenhouse heating from fossil fuel burning is on the order of 100,000 times the useful heat of combustion of that fossil fuel guarantees huge liability for fossil fuel investments in the long run, I think. It’s like investing in smallpox or anthrax.

        Reply
        • Good points. I think they’re in trouble now and they know it. But the outcome is not certain as the fight is definitely not an equal one. The fossil fuel special interests still hold a lot of the cards at this time. And moving the bar against future emissions has been a Herculean effort primarily due to their intransigent blocking of practically every solution to climate change.

  4. Tom

     /  January 28, 2016

    NOAA Model Finds Renewable Energy Could be Deployed in the U.S. Without Storage

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/renewables/noaa-model-finds-renewable-energy-could-be-deployed-in-the-us-cost-effectively-without-storage-to-cut-carbon-emissions

    The majority of the United States’s electricity needs could be met with renewable energy by 2030—without new advances in energy storage or cost increases. That’s the finding of a new study conducted by researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The key will be having sufficient transmission lines spanning the contiguous U.S., so that energy can be deployed from where it’s generated to the places where its needed.

    Reporting their results today in Nature Climate Change, the researchers found that a combination of solar and wind energy, plus high-voltage direct current transmission lines that travel across the country, would reduce the electric sector’s carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80 percent compared to 1990 levels. [more]

    Reply
    • Isn’t that great? I used to look at maps like the one below, and imagine high voltage DC power lines moving electricity from concentrating solar power plants in Nevada to the East Coast.

      With a network like the one they are talking about, the power could be moved from Nevada to anywhere in the country with no more than maybe 10% losses. Or any electrical power could be moved from anywhere in the continental U.S. to anywhere in the continental U.S. with low losses.

      I still think we are missing out on benefits from concentrating solar. If the cost of the heliostats could be brought down, concentrating solar could be huge and could include thermal heat storage for true base load solar power. Covering less than 10% of the surface of Nevada with concentrating solar could power the entire country, for example.

      Somebody invent a low cost heliostat, please!

      Reply
      • Wikipedia lists power losses from transmission via high voltage DC power lines as 3.5% per 1000 kilometers (600 miles). So, these power lines could routinely connect renewable power sources to population centers.

        With low power losses like these, solar power could be transmitted from Nevada concentrating solar plants to New York City with realistic losses of maybe 14% – 12.5% as the crow flies. Or hydropower electricity could be transmitted from Quebec to New York City with only about 6% losses.

        Siberian natural gas could be burned using oxyfuel combustion at the well head, the resulting CO2 deep injected, and the power transmitted from the huge gas fields around Yamal to Germany with less than 15% power losses – possibly lower power losses than are now consumed by natural gas leakage. Siberian natural gas is worth roughly ten trillion dollars, and this would be an almost carbon neutral way to exploit it. This is not an ideal solution, but may be more realistic than expecting the Russians to leave it in the ground.

        Reply
        • If you don’t leave the natural gas in the ground you basically lock in climate change game over.

          They don’t have enough storage to burn and capture even a 1/5 fraction of that natural gas. And that’s not even considering the cost comparison for CCS gas vs renewables — which basically renders the gas+CCS uneconomical. They’re going to have to leave that stuff in the ground. Economics will push that way in any case so long as fossil fuel special interests do not force control of political systems in order to suppress renewable energy adoption.

          In other words, those ‘trillions’ aren’t a real asset in an economic sense. To extend the life of that destructive fuel you need an immorally tyrannical political control.

        • “Siberian natural gas could be burned using oxyfuel combustion at the well head, the resulting CO2 deep injected, and the power transmitted from the huge gas fields around Yamal to Germany with less than 15% power losses – possibly lower power losses than are now consumed by natural gas leakage. Siberian natural gas is worth roughly ten trillion dollars, and this would be an almost carbon neutral way to exploit it. This is not an ideal solution, but may be more realistic than expecting the Russians to leave it in the ground.”

          So this is the bit that I wholeheartedly disagree with. Siberian natural gas absolutely needs to stay in the ground. And I honestly think it’s irresponsible to suggest otherwise.

      • Hi Robert-

        I think that the costs and pipeline and storage difficulties of CCS have been exaggerated by industries that don’t want to do CCS. This North Dakota plant has been doing large scale CCS from coal for decades. The CO2 is sent by a 212 mile pipeline to Canada, where it is used for secondary oil recovery. The project has been running for 30 or more years, with few apparent problems:

        http://www.dakotagas.com/CO2_Capture_and_Storage/

        Industries don’t want to do anything about global warming but rake in fossil fuel profits. Thankfully those profits are declining these days.

        It seems like any time American industry doesn’t want to do something, seemingly independent and scholarly studies start popping up, saying that doing it would be prohibitively expensive or impractical. CCS is a such a case, I think. In the case of the Russians – they have the Siberian Traps, a huge area of probably porous and fractured basalt – an ideal place for in-situ mineral carbonation of CO2. So, I think they probably have the storage capacity, if they want to do it.

        I’d be happier if the fossil fuels especially natural gas were left in the ground.

        There is a potential moral hazard associated with CCS – it could be used to continue fossil fuel production in an almost carbon neutral way, and the CO2 can be used for secondary oil recovery – leading to more CO2 production from the subsequent oil. It’s hard to know what the best course of action is, with the fate of the biosphere literally hanging in the balance.

        I would go for developing biomass energy plus CCS, and putting carbon back underground as fast as possible.

        Others want to go the straight renewable route. Maybe they are right.

        Reply
        • I guess I’m a bit leery of how CCS is being used now even though I see it as one of a handful of methods that are currently available to draw carbon out of the atmosphere.

          For example — I wouldn’t consider any project that uses CCS to enhance oil recovery to be an effective emissions reduction activity. In fact, sadly, I’ve only seen CCS used commercially in instances where enhanced fossil fuel recovery was involved. And I think the fact that we only see commercial CCS linked to EOR is a pretty clear sign that CCS overall isn’t an economic choice even for the fossil fuel based generators.

          So on the one hand, you’re capturing carbon from gas or coal generation. But on the other hand you’re increasing the amount of oil produced in these fields and then later burned somewhere by two or threefold. So what you have here is a case of the dubious (CCS) contributing to the bad (overall fossil fuel emissions). That’s like taking one step forward and then two steps back. You’re getting a net increase in carbon emissions overall.

          For example, this pro CCS + Enhanced Oil Recovery study found that 20 billions tons of CO2 injected into oil wells aimed at enhancing oil recovery resulted in 67 billion more barrels of oil produced. When burned, those extra barrels will result in 28 billion tons more CO2 in the atmosphere. So the captured CO2 from the natural gas plant results in an extra 8 billion tons more CO2 in the air overall.

          http://www.netl.doe.gov/File%20Library/Research/Energy%20Analysis/Publications/DOE-NETL-2011-1504-NextGen_CO2_EOR_06142011.pdf

          So yeah. A very bad idea. A way to lock in carbon emissions on and on into the future. And yet one more reason to just keep it all in the ground.

          As for studies — I’m looking at cost trends now. According to this BNEF study, the levelized cost of onshore wind is now 85 dollars per megawatt hour globally. The levelized cost of PV is 122 dollars per megawatt globally. This compares with non CCS gas at 93 dollars per megawatt globally. Adding in a 40-50 percent LCOE addition (more than reasonable given the current state of the technology) by adding in CCS to these gas plants increases this to 128 to 138 dollars per megawatt hour.

          Please see http://about.bnef.com/press-releases/wind-solar-boost-cost-competitiveness-versus-fossil-fuels/
          and http://www.netl.doe.gov/KMD/cds/disk50/NGCC%20Technology_051507.pdf

          What this shows me is that natural gas with CCS, which is the easiest fossil fuel based system to attach CCS to (coal costs 145 to 200 dollars per megawatt with CCS), is not economically competitive now with solar and costs nearly twice as much as wind. With costs for wind and solar continuing to fall, this makes an even better case to just keep all the fossil fuels in the ground.

          So, Leland, if we are going to effectively address climate change, this dog and pony show of CCS + EOR needs to go and the fossil fuels most definitely do need to remain in the ground. But the CCS + biomass will probably be necessary for atmospheric drawdown.

          I’m trying to figure out a way to communicate this particular bit that is clear and easy to understand.

      • Leland Palmer

         /  February 2, 2016

        Hi Robert-
        I think you misread what I wrote – what I wrote wasn’t clear.

        CCS plus secondary oil recovery is BS and is a moral hazard.

        CCS plus fossil fuels are not a good option – this destroys the carbon storage capacity of the earth for no good reason.

        CCS plus Biomass could save us, though, because it simultaneously puts carbon back underground, displaces fossil fuel use, and provides useful electricity. So it has a big mathematical impact on the problem.

        Reply
        • My apologies if I misunderstood, Leland. Upon a re-read I see I misunderstood your first paragraph. I’ve since edited my own comment accordingly.

          I agree on the issue of CCS + Biomass (as long as the biomass isn’t mined biomass — as in peat that already sequesters carbon — but is instead biomass that has recently captured carbon). I’m not at all keen on CCS (biomass or other) + enhanced oil recovery.

      • Yes, the shorter the time scale of the biomass growth the better. Grasses and canes are better than trees, and fast growing small trees better than old trees, generally I think. True waste biomass is the best, especially biomass that might produce methane while decaying.

        Thanks for understanding my chaotic writing process. What I wrote truly was not clear.

        Reply
    • So finally, we dont have to change our collective behavior! Thats whats all about, isnt it?

      Best,

      Alex

      Reply
      • Moving to renewables is changing collective behavior. It’s the mass effect that makes it so much more practical than the individual abstenence from fossil fuels message, Alexander.

        Reply
      • Hi Alexander-

        If we were living out in space somewhere, with truly limited resources, we might have to go to “just say no” to energy usage. But fortunately, we live in a world with tremendous fluxes of solar energy passing through the biosphere. There is absolutely no reason why we can’t harvest some of that solar energy, that would normally end up as heat anyway, and derive useful work from that solar energy before it ends up as heat, anyway.

        That’s one reason our current situation is so tragic – it is both unnecessary and entirely preventable. It might cost slightly more than fossil fuels, in the short run. In the long run the concentrating solar plants built in the 1980s that have paid off their loans are now producing some of the cheapest power around.

        How could it be otherwise – with free fuel and only minor costs like maintenance to run the solar power plant?

        Reply
  5. Andy in SD

     /  January 28, 2016

    Would this by any chance explain politicians?

    Reply
  6. – You tied together a lot of aspects of climate change influences on vector propagation, Robert.

    – For mosquito vectors and some ways to deal with them, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov details a WHO publication that focuses on dengue fever and Ae. aegypti as main vector.

    ‘VECTOR MANAGEMENT AND DELIVERY OF VECTOR CONTROL SERVICES;

    Preventing or reducing dengue virus transmission depends entirely on control of the mosquito vectors or interruption of human–vector contact.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK143163/

    Reply
  7. – Florida — a heavily populated warm and moist mosquito vector habitat.

    – Eric Blake ‏@EricBlake12 8m8 minutes ago

    Unofficially, Tamiami (KTMB) has 25.75″ of rain in Dec/Jan-3rd highest on record in all of #Florida #ElNino #climate

    Reply
  8. – Cold winters as vector control.
    I repost this from the previous RS:

    – “About a week (3 weeks into winter) I noticed a live mosquito here in PDX. The cold of winter usually stops them. The same with ‘house’ flies – last year, and this.”

    Reply
    • PlazaRed

       /  January 29, 2016

      I don’t know where PDX is but here in southern Spain from my personal experience at about 36 degrees north I have seen masses of house flys and a lot of both smaller and large flys outdoors in the areas of Malaga, Granada, Ronda and Cordoba. This is not normal in January!
      Also a lot of lizards which being reptiles are normally dormant at this time of the year.
      What most people call mosquitos ( the word means small flys in Spanish,) or the small blood sucking night time flys I have not seen yet this year but they are not that common in my normally dry and high altitude area. We get them in the summer occasionally but I am becoming concerned about the wet lands to the west in Donada and to the south near Gibraltar where mosquitos abound in the spring and summer.
      We are running about 4 to 6 /C above normal in this area for January.

      Reply
    • I live in SLC Utah, and it has mostly rained this winter. It never rained in the winter when I was kid. Come Nov. This place was frozen with snow on the ground until april. Now it’s raining in January. I noticed a couple different insects a couple weeks ago. It totally stood out, I made a mental note of it. There are bugs outside in January WTF? There is snow on the ground right now, but still. That was a little disconcerting.

      Reply
    • The mosquitoes here in S. Fl have been as bad as if it were summer. They have been doing aerial spraying, which rarely to never occurs in winter. Dealing with hordes of mosquitoes this winter has been surreal.

      Reply
  9. This post strikes me ‘bull’s eye’ as Ecuador went from 2 cases (travelers returning from Columbia) to 17 and now possibly 33 cases in what seems like a week’s time. I watched chikungunya do that last year and it was a really ugly few months.

    Last May and June, that same species of mosquito transmitted an epidemic along Ecuador’s Pacific coast. I happen to be one who can ‘boast’ (ha) of having a coinfection of dengue and chikungunya at the same time. In the town of Jama, the question wasn’t ‘Who has dengue/chikungunya?’ but “Who does not have these nasty viruses?’….. Witnessing the crippling pain of chikungunya was difficult to take, even when I was also one in the local clinic for weekly blood tests, etc. The veterans could spot other veterans, as the ‘stooped over’ posture brands one, and I still suffer with painful joints.

    With news of ‘Zika’ hitting that province, I am glad to be in the cloud forest, and I plan to ”stay put,’ for longer than planned.

    There is also a lot of talk about the genetically-altered mosquitoes to help eradicate the vector insects, and as much as I do not want to be that ill ever again, I also have a sense of foreboding regarding frankenmosquitoes…

    I hope that Zika’ burns itself out fast, but yes it is a very scary virus and perhaps capable of morphing into different variants like dengue did. (2nd round with dengue for me)

    Thanks, as always, for keeping us informed.
    Lisa

    Reply
    • Caroline

       /  January 28, 2016

      Lisa,
      I share your sense of foreboding re: gm mosquitoes. There are many excellent articles that address the issues regarding genetic modification
      here is but one:
      http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/01/Genetically-Modified-Mosquitoes-May-Be-Released-in-Florida-Keys/384859/

      Reply
      • Thank you for this.. the coctail of ingredients is really scary. There will be people who want the mosquitoes killed at all costs, and later – oh my… this will also scare many others, probably every reader of Robert’s blog.

        Reply
    • Yeah. Not a big fan of GM mosquitoes. Kinda has unintended consequences written all over it.

      Reply
      • Caroline

         /  January 28, 2016

        Yes, unintended consequences written all over it!
        One more piece which details those potential consequences:
        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/dengue-case-for-genetically-modified-mosquitoes/

        Reply
      • Wow! Four days away from the internet and five new articles here and my first hat tip! Thanks Robert!

        I have to disagree about the GM mosquitoes, though. I’m a big fan of those, and they’re one of the best ways to combat Aedes aegypti available now.

        It’s an inseticide (killing the next generation of mosquitoes) that is highly specific, affecting only one species, instead of several. Chances of genes crossing species barriers are very poor in this instance, as it’s a termination gene that’s being used (so, crossing over stops in one generation, IF it occurs). In most of it’s distribution (including here in Brasil) Aedes aegypti is invasive, and ecological studies here (in Piracicaba, a city in the state of São Paulo. Medium-sized, 390.000 people, crossed by big rivers and with no geographic barriers against recolonization by the mosquito) showed that transgenic mosquitoes can have huge effects against Aedes aegypti population (82% diminished in one year, in a perifery neighboorhood with 5000 people. Costs: around US$ 37.500 . Article in Portuguese: http://g1.globo.com/sp/piracicaba-regiao/noticia/2016/01/para-prefeito-aedes-transgenico-fica-barato-se-usado-no-longo-prazo.html ).

        Ecological studies of that same case showed a rebound of native mosquitoes populations, increasing diversity and decreasing disease transmission (very few diseases are transmitted by those native mosquitoes). Some species that were facing local extintion were found again in the CECAP neighboorhood area. That’s a very positive ecological effect, in my opinion.

        And the competition… well, to highlight the level of desperation that the combat of Aedes aegypti is at around here: DDT is approved for use in this case (“stop mosquito proliferation in case of epidemics”) here in Brasil, and is being used in a few cities (including São Paulo) . >_< Other inseticides are being used too, but, all of them have huge ecological side effects, quite larger than the transgenic mosquitoes.

        The one thing that is stopping transgenic mosquitos from being more widely used here is public opinion (which is the reason Anvisa, our regulatory agency, hasn't approved the method for anything but experiments until now). People dislike transgenics, and there are motives for those dislikes (as I should very well known, as I'm allergic to Round-up… a real challenge when sourcing food).

        But transgenic mosquitoes are one of the best uses of the transgeny method possible (they're only competing with rare pharmaceutical in milk producing goats, in my opinion), one that has the potential to save lots of lifes, human and animal (all those beneficial insects that won't be poisoned, because the GM mosquitoes are targeting only Aedes aegypti).

        Reply
        • Thanks for the thoughts, Umbrios. I have a hard time liking the idea. It’s more a matter of concern regarding GM organisms as a whole. However, what I also find disturbing is the ‘light my hair on fire’ theories circulating around the notion of GM mosquitoes. It’s nice to have a level head in this discussion.

          It’s worth noting that I haven’t found one negative impact study on GM mosquitoes. But, being experimental, you really don’t know for certain until they are introduced, which is a bit of a risk. The notion that only Aedes aegypti could be targeted does sound promising. And the potential to remove harmful pesticides is also very attractive. But you can’t necessarily call concerns completely irrational given past GM impacts and misuses — roundup ready wheat, GM seeds for agricultural dominance, GM foods pesticide production suspect in decline of bees, and fiddling with the honey bee genome to produce killer bees (although this was not direct gene manipulation).

          So I think the notion of GM for good is a tough sell. Similar to nuclear, really. There are both rational and irrational fears surrounding the issue.

      • am offline most days, but always appreciate following up and seeing the thread of comments on all of your posts…

        Reply
      • Maria

         /  January 30, 2016

        Umbrios—thanks so much for your post. Heartening and makes a huge difference re: my opinion re: the use of GM mosquito as produced by Oxitec that Aeges aegypti is an invasive species. Just last night I was having a conversation(brief) with an immunologist(her specialty is bioterrorism) and her top concern was ecosystem effects of Oxitec’s gm mosquito.

        Living down there do you have a sense of what’s going on re: Brasil dramatically revising their estimates(downward) re: microcephaly cases and those caused by Zika?

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/01/29/brazil-may-have-fewer-zika-related-microcephaly-cases-than-previously-reported/

        Reply
    • FrasersGrove

       /  January 29, 2016

      Lisa, I spent quite some time in Canoa a few years ago, do you know how things are there? Also are you at Third Millennium Reserve? Just curious…

      Mike

      Reply
      • I am helping friends in Mindo so have not been on the coast lately. Friends and news keep me informed – Portoviejo has a few Zika cases, but currently the ocean and flooding are in the news. Salinas, GYE, Cruzita, Pedernales, Esmeraldes, all with either/or or both. Haven’t heard anything from Canoa or El Matal this week, hopefully no news is good news.. El Matal, however is in serious trouble regarding the ocean’s advance. Robert predicted that over six months ago when he said that my friends had best take action ‘now.’

        Reply
      • as for the Reserve, it’s a bit north of Jama — I live on Rio Jama…

        Reply
  10. – Off topic but Jan. 28 (1969) is significant.
    – Some details are similar to industry’s malfunctions at Aliso Canyon blowout — probably others too.

    – LA Times 05,2015 latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-santa-barbara-oil-spill-1969-
    ‘The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill that changed oil and gas exploration forever’
    – [Changed?]

    The Jan. 28, 1969, blowout was caused by inadequate safety precautions taken by Unocal, which was known then as Union Oil. The company received a waiver from the U.S. Geological Survey that allowed it to build a protective casing around the drilling hole that was 61 feet short of the federal minimum requirements at the time.

    The resulting explosion was so powerful it cracked the sea floor in five places, and crude oil spewed out of the rupture at a rate of 1,000 gallons an hour for a month before it could be slowed.

    – SB EDC blog newsletter
    – Photo courtesy of Robert Duncan.

    Reply
  11. dnem

     /  January 28, 2016

    A couple of editorial comments, Robert. I think you mean “wreak…harm”, not wreck, in the first paragraph:http://fandom-grammar.livejournal.com/110894.html

    Also, Aedes is a genus (singular) not a genera (plural), in your comment to Greg. (Also the first letter of Genus names are capitalized, the first letter of species names are not; Aedes aegypti).

    Sorry I’m a total PITA!

    This is one of the most unnerving stories I can remember.

    Reply
  12. Dr. Moench (member of the radiation and health committee, Physicians for Social Responsibility and a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists and friend of DT’s??) will be on public radio http://www.wojb.org at 8:30 tomorrow morning to talk about vector borne diseases/climate change and more. Please pass along any questions and I”ll get them to him!

    Reply
  13. Greg

     /  January 28, 2016

    We’ve brought this upon ouselves before in other ways. Remember Minamata disease? Mercury poisoning. Copyrighted photos so couldn’t post within comment but remember the power of seeing the mom holding her child in the water.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=minamata+disease+photos&biw=360&bih=615&prmd=ivn&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwja88H5vs3KAhUF1R4KHRdFBNAQ_AUIBigB#imgrc=v9WxrrRxrKsXoM%3A

    Reply
    • Greg, you are referring to legendary photographer W. Eugene Smith’s work exposing Minamata disease due to Mercury poisoning in Japan.
      I thought of Minamata also.

      There is much to this story which was rife with civic and corporate corruption much like Tepco Fukushima, and other corporate sponsored disasters.

      W. Eugene Smith is something else.
      A bit about him, the town, the crimes, and the victims at Minamata is in the reply below:

      Reply
      • Abel Adamski

         /  January 30, 2016

        I thought I had saved a link to a video on Youtube, a video that I think R.S provided in an earlier post as happens with Youtube provided other videos, my interest was piqued and I followed and found a Danish I think video about the Golden Wiid west in a South American country in their mountains of gold , where the currency is gold nuggets etc and mercury is in common use in high volumes by the thousands of prospectors to separate and aggregate the gold, have been looking for it when I can, maybe you might have better luck. The images of those polluted brown rivers just flowing to the sea is concerning to say the least

        Reply
    • Minamata: The Story of the Poisoning of a City


      Smith’s photos on a mercury poisoning scandal in Minamata were published in Asahi Camera, Camera 35, and Life in an article called “Death-Flow from a Pipe,” and in this book called “Minamata: The Story of the Poisoning of a City.” The photos brought world attention to the Minamata disease caused by mercury being released into the ocean by a company called Chisso.
      The most famous photo was that of Kamimura Tomoko in the bath, cradled by her mother. Born in 1956, Tomoko suffered from mercury poisoning.
      Mercury had entered her bloodstream through the placenta, leaving her blind, deaf, and with useless legs.
      Smith heard about Tomoko’s daily afternoon bath and asked her mother if he could photograph them. He carefully checked the bath’s lighting, which came through a dark window. Smith determined that three in the afternoon would be the best time, and took the famous photo in December 1971.

      Reply

    • Smith and his wife were attacked and injured in January 1972 during a confrontation between mercury poisoning victims and Chisso employees at the factory in Goi. Victims were violently evicted from Chisso property. Smith had to seek medical treatment in the U.S. for his injuries.
      Ken Kobre described the attack in an essay at the Masters Exhibition website: “Smith almost lost his eyesight covering the story.
      He and his wife, armed with camera and tape-recorder, accompanied a group of patients to record a meeting the group expected to have with an official of the company. The official failed to show up. “But,” Smith related, “suddenly, a group of about 100 men, on orders from the company, crowded into the room. They hit me first. They grabbed me and kicked me in the crotch and snatched the cameras, then hit me in the stomach. Then they dragged me out and picked me up and slammed my head on the concrete.”
      Smith survived, but with limited vision in one eye.
      http://www.documentingmedicine.com/minamata-the-story-of-the-poisoning-of-a-city/

      Reply
    • – The power of photography is in one more Smith’s empathetic photos about US forces ‘mopping’ up after fierce battles on the island of Saipan during WW II.
      ‘Wounded, dying infant found by American soldier in Saipan Mountains’

      Reply
      • Greg

         /  January 29, 2016

        Thank you for this DT. What a brave man W. Eugene Smith was, and what a phenomenal photojournalist. One image and he compassionately influences millions of minds and hearts.

        Reply
  14. redskylite

     /  January 28, 2016

    Thanks for the feature on the Zika threat, it has sprang from obscurity to alarm in a few weeks, a warning that the Earth is running a fever that only man can cure. I am worried about the pregnant women, who still may have not heard about the risk, their is no such thing as too much publicity as this could devastate lives.

    Another strong warning in today’s “The Conversation” from a Professor of Biogeochemistry, Director of the Cabot Institute, at the University of Bristol.

    For billions of years, life on Earth remained relatively simple. Only single-celled organisms that could live with little or no oxygen were able to survive in the seas.

    Eventually, the rise of oxygen led to a proliferation of diverse, multicellular life. However the oceans have not remained unchanged since that chemical and biological revolution. At several times in geological history, they have partially reverted back to their original bacterially-dominated, oxygen-free state – and they could do so again.

    ‘Today rising CO2 levels are making the oceans warmer and more acidic. Deforestation and intensive farming are causing soils and nutrients to be flushed into the sea. And increasingly, the oceans are being stripped of oxygen, leaving large “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico, the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic off West Africa.

    These dead zones, smaller-scale revivals of the primeval oceans that existed before complex life, appear to be caused by poor land management, such as fertilisers draining from farms into the sea. It is a process that could be exacerbated by climate change – as has happened in the past.”

    I’ve heard this warning from other sources (such as Peter D. Ward) and RobertScribbler has written about the risks too. Another good reason to swap energy sources and respect ecosystems.

    http://theconversation.com/ancient-dead-seas-offer-a-stark-warning-for-our-own-near-future-47984

    Reply
  15. entropicman

     /  January 28, 2016

    Using the BBC report on Recife in Brazil I tried a quick calculation. Could someone please check.

    Recife has a population of 3.7 million. They would expect 3.7million/70 =53,000 births per year. Normally they have five microcephalics each year, That is 5/53000, about 0.01% or one child in 10,000.

    In the last six months they have had 300 microcephalics, equivalent to 600 per year. This is 600/53000 *100=1.1%.

    In summary, in Recife the proportion of microcephalic babies has jumped from one in ten thousand to more than one in every hundred.

    Words fail me.

    Reply
    • dnem

       /  January 28, 2016

      The article says a jump from 5/year to 300 in six months, which would be 600/year if the rate remained the same. That’s an increase by a factor of 120, or about the same as your math. Wow.

      Reply
  16. entropicman

     /  January 28, 2016

    Sorry for the repeats,Robert. Can you tidy up?

    Reply
  17. There is a tragic irony to this story: In El Salvador, nature is overruling the Catholic Church and causing humans to limit their numbers. No amount of education about the harms of overpopulation and unsustainability could accomplish what a virus hidden inside a mosquito is doing.

    My wife and I had eleven kids due to our childhood church’s dogmatic stance against birth control. Now, after forty-some years in that little sect, we have left it and know better. We love and take delight in our kids, of course, but certainly wouldn’t advise them to follow our example! And we know all too well about the role of religion in uncontrolled procreation, something that is very much in play in El Salvador, as we’ve all seen from news about poor young women being forced to give birth at grave risk to their lives.

    Reply
  18. Perhaps some of them could become politicians or economists?

    Sent from my iPad 🙏🏻

    >

    Reply
  19. Griffin

     /  January 29, 2016

    Robert, you have done well to honor those affected by making this post one of your best.

    Reply
  20. Andy in SD

     /  January 29, 2016

    This is much worse than Ebola (which was a media darling).

    Ebola is too efficient, and too quick. The fatality rate, and speed of symptom manifestation again are it’s Achilles heel.

    Zika on the other hand can travel unbeknownst to the host, can spread without fatality thus increasing propagation. And it has it’s target for serious harm (unborn). This will travel by airplane to all corners.

    Reply
    • Maria

       /  January 30, 2016

      Andy–I think that we can take heart in the short/medium term that Aedes aegypte is not in all corners of the world. Here in the US we’ve done a decent job with mosquito control(notably California) and most us live indoors in AC during high mosquito season. Many people in the Americas don’t have that luxury. We also have some time to come up with ways to control/decimate it and work on a vaccine–although it’s unlikely that the latter happens for another 3-5-10 years.
      What’s depressing is that the mosquito was breeding in water being collected and saved during their severe drought…ouch.

      Reply
  21. redskylite

     /  January 29, 2016

    Reported from the University of Plymouth (29 January 2016)

    Recent summers likely to be the warmest of last two millenia
    Study demonstrates temperatures over past 30 years lie outside natural variations, supporting IPCC conclusions on global warming

    Recent global warming lies outside of patterns experienced over the past 2,000 years supporting the suggestion it is being influenced by human activity, an international study involving Plymouth University has found.

    Most of Europe has experienced strong summer warming over the course of several decades, accompanied by severe heat waves in 2003, 2010 and 2015.

    https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/recent-summer-temperatures-likely-to-be-the-warmest-of-last-two-millenia

    Reply
  22. “Climate orphans”- yes. So many, so sad. Terminal dislocation. With no where to go. For us and so many species. And yet, how rapidly (comparatively) we could turn things around if we could come together.

    Reply
  23. redskylite

     /  January 29, 2016

    New Zealand report on Zika today, spreading in the Pacific – add Tonga to the list to avoid if pregnant. Travel with caution.

    Kiwi in hospital with symptoms linked to Zika virus

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11581755

    Reply
    • PlazaRed

       /  January 29, 2016

      The Spanish national news said tonight that there are 3 confirmed cases in Spain now.
      This may seem slight but they were all people who had been to south America.
      Coming into spring now and with up to +6/C above normal the local mosquitoes will be active soon.
      I personally don’t know if the virus can be spread by native Spanish mosquitos but a lot of things are possible with virus’s.

      Reply
  24. Wharf Rat

     /  January 29, 2016

    Recent summer temperatures in Europe are likely the warmest of the last two millennia, study shows

    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-01-summer-temperatures-europe-warmest-millennia.html#jCp

    Reply
  25. redskylite

     /  January 29, 2016

    More on the loss of those ancient forests in Tasmania (part of the Gondwana forest. Trees more than 1,000 years old tower above ancient ferns, forming a connection to the distant past.)

    It is extremely unlikely burnt areas with the endemic alpine flora will ever fully recover given the slow growth of these species and the increased risk of subsequent fires given the change to more flammable vegetation and the slow accumulation of peat soils, which takes thousands of years.

    ………………………….

    The root cause of the has been the record-breaking dry spring and the largely rain-free and consistently warm summer, which has left fuels and peat soils bone dry.

    ……………………………..
    http://theconversation.com/fires-in-tasmanias-ancient-forests-are-a-warning-for-all-of-us-53806

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  January 29, 2016

      Flash flooding hits Tasmania’s north east as heavy rain strands hundreds on coast

      Launceston received 85.8mm, a record for a single day, and the small town of Gray on the east coast has been hit with 220mm of rain over the same period.

      State Emergency Service northern regional manager Mhairi Revie said crews were sandbagging and helping people prepare for the risk of further flash flooding over the next two days.

      “People need to be prepared at the moment…it’s not over yet and the more prepared people are, the less damage they’ll have in the aftermath,” she said.

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-29/more-rain-expected-in-tasmanian-flash-flooding-zones/7123014

      Reply
      • Abel Adamski

         /  January 30, 2016

        Those rains and floods missed tghe burning forests, in fact the winds and rain prevented aerial activity and flying in crews, crippling the fire fighting efforts for several days while the fires burnt unhindered

        Reply
  26. wili

     /  January 29, 2016

    Ever the man with his finger on the pulse of things, vox_mundi has an excellent thread on this going over at POForums: http://peakoil.com/forums/zika-virus-t72175-60.html

    Reply
  27. redskylite

     /  January 29, 2016

    Looks like Australia in for some epic weather events, brewing up in nearly every state . .

    Bureau of Meteorology issues severe weather warnings for every state and territory apart from NT as supercell storms stalk eastern cities and the season’s first cyclone forms off the coast of Western Australia

    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2016/jan/29/australia-weather-supercell-storms-threaten-sydney-brisbane-and-canberra-live

    Reply
  28. Malathy Iyer ‏@MalathyIyerTOI 1h1 hour ago

    WHO meet on Mon (Feb 1) in Geneva to decide whether Zika constitutes a public health emergency of intl concern @TOIMumbai

    Reply
  29. | Fri Jan 29, 2016 1:29am EST
    Related: Health, Brazil
    WHO says Zika virus spreads explosively, four million cases forecast

    The Zika virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is “spreading explosively” and could infect as many as 4 million people in the Americas, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

    Director-General Margaret Chan told members of the U.N. health agency’s executive board the spread of the mosquito-borne disease had gone from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions. The WHO would convene an emergency meeting on Monday to help determine its response, she said.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-zika-who-idUSKCN0V61JB

    Reply
  30. Thank you again Robert for covering this (I haven’t read here for 10 days as been working somewhere warm, damp and bug-friendly), back in the South ElNino is cold like winter with very little sun – crops and fields growing very slowly.

    Zika brings to mind the dystopic movie Children of Men, where women stopped being able to conceive – I think the movie opens with a news voice-over about the youngest person on Earth being 29. Even 10 years ago it was so easy to dismiss as science fantasy … another 21st Century Reality™

    Reply
    • Greg

       /  January 29, 2016

      Syria likely would make a backdrop for the movie Children of Men today. How many postponed children there? Clip below. Not pretty.

      Reply
    • I couldn’t help but think of Children of Men as well.

      Reply
      • Jeremy in Wales

         /  January 29, 2016

        The mother and child in the film make their escape from Bexhill-on-Sea and that was probably a quite deliberate choice. My stepfathers parents lived in the town, which was in the 1970s, and it was strange at the time as it seemed as a kid that 90% of the population was over 80. As a child you certainly felt like an alien and attracted a lot of attention from potential adoptive grandmothers!
        They probably were not over 80 but it certainly had the highest proportion of retired people in the UK at the time.

        Reply
  31. – Zika will complicate refugee/immigration scene.

    OR A VARIATION OF:
    Climate Desk ‏@ClimateDesk 5h5 hours ago

    That may be it for climate change questions. We seem to be moving on to the immigrant-bashing portion of the evening. #GOPDebate

    Reply
  32. WHO Director-General briefs Executive Board on Zika situation

    Briefing to the Executive Board on the Zika situation
    Geneva, Switzerland
    28 January 2016


    The Zika virus was first isolated in 1947 from a monkey in the Zika forest of Uganda. Its historical home has been in a narrow equatorial belt stretching across Africa and into equatorial Asia.

    For decades, the disease, transmitted by the Aedes genus of mosquito, slumbered, affecting mainly monkeys. In humans, Zika occasionally caused a mild disease of low concern.

    In 2007, Zika expanded its geographical range to cause the first documented outbreak in the Pacific islands, in the Federated States of Micronesia. From 2013-2014, 4 additional Pacific island nations documented large Zika outbreaks.

    In French Polynesia, the Zika outbreak was associated with neurological complications at a time when the virus was co-circulating with dengue. That was a unique feature, but difficult to interpret.
    http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2016/zika-situation/en/

    Reply
    • More highlights:

      WHO is deeply concerned about this rapidly evolving situation for 4 main reasons:

      – the possible association of infection with birth malformations and neurological syndromes

      – the potential for further international spread given the wide geographical distribution of the mosquito vector

      – the lack of population immunity in newly affected areas and the absence of vaccines, specific treatments, and rapid diagnostic tests.

      Moreover, conditions associated with this year’s El Nino weather pattern are expected to increase mosquito populations greatly in many areas.

      Reply
  33. redskylite

     /  January 29, 2016

    My cousin, who is pregnant, intends to travel from the U.K to New Zealand and was asking for a safe stopover suggestion. I was going to suggest Singapore, but after consulting the Straits Times see they are very worried about Zika and of course have the mosquito in their lands. Dubai would seem a good, safe choice. Expectant folk need to consider the risk of this terrible virus, there are enough worries attached to pregnancy already.

    Don’t take unnecessary risks for the future generations.

    “There is a high risk of subsequent local transmission, as the Aedes mosquito vector is present here. As such, the virus may become endemic in Singapore,”

    http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-steps-up-fight-against-zika-virus

    Reply
  34. Jeremy

     /  January 29, 2016

    “Europe’s recent summers were the ‘warmest in 2,000 years”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35431375

    Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  January 30, 2016

      http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/global-warming-means-exotic-fruits-now-being-grown-in-britain-a6842676.html

      An agricultural revolution has been quietly gaining momentum in the fields of southern England with climate change meaning apricots, peaches and all manner of exotic crops are springing up in a way unimaginable just a generation ago.

      Britain’s first ever crop of sweet, seedless “table” grapes will hit Asda’s shelves this autumn, as global warming adds another exotic fruit to the nation’s tables. It’s the latest in a growing list of now regular crops that also includes tea, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, water melons and walnuts.

      “Since 2000 we’ve seen some very clear signs that climate change is already changing agriculture in this country. And it’s highly likely that this will be good for our arable crop production in the future,” said Professor Crute, a former director of Rothamsted Research, the world’s oldest agricultural research centre.

      A beneficial phase during the transitions

      Reply
  35. Guardian front page online article about Zika…
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/29/zika-virus-spread-americas-texas-researcher
    How long before the world wakes up and connects the dots between this viruses and likely, more like it and GW?

    Reply
  36. Syd Bridges

     /  January 29, 2016

    Thanks for another great post, Robert. I have been watching this story for a while now.

    I think we may see other emergent viral diseases having similar effects. Many of these rare viruses have little epidemiological data, as they occur in areas where the data collection is poor. If you get only a few cases and one birth defect it is impossible to deduce anything. Further, if they are new zoonoses, they are likely to be new to science.

    In my parents’ and grandparents’ time, German measles (Rubella) was considered as a trivial disease too. Very often asymptomatic, (I only know that I’ve had it because I was tested for it as part of the medical for my Permanent Residency application-I am seropositive for rubella) no one associated it with anything dangerous until 1941. Then Sir Norman Gregg, an ophthalmologist in Sydney, noticed an unusual upswing in the number of babies born with congenital cataract. It turned out that this common, trivial disease was extremely dangerous in the first twenty weeks of pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester.

    It’s hardly a surprise that some viruses would behave this way. In order to reproduce they have to hijack the cell’s own reproductive mechanisms. At a time of rapid change of cell types and functions, when the extremely complex choreography of embryology is at its most vulnerable, anything that interferes with even a few cells can have grave consequences.

    Reply
  37. danabanana

     /  January 29, 2016

    I have mentioned before the The Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes Albopictus) invasion of Europe which already caused epidemics of Chikungunya fever. It has not been talked about much in the media because it doesn’t involve babies…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aedes_albopictus#Role_as_disease_vectors

    Reply
  38. We humans will eventually solve our population problem–not voluntarily–but by our own actions. Here are some of the human-caused factors responsible for reduced births and longevity:
    – Insect vectors for human diseases are moving to new places as climate changes.
    – Disease organisms are developing immunity to antibiotics.
    – Heatwaves and lethal storms are increasing.
    – Radioactive isotopes and other toxic materials are spreading through Earth environments.
    – Biodiversity and ecosystem stability are declining.
    Thank you for the post Robert. I reported it on my site.

    Reply
    • Greg

       /  January 29, 2016

      ““Apart from the stupid space rock hitting the Earth, most mass extinctions were CO2-driven global warming things,” says Professor Andy Ridgwell of Bristol University in the UK. It has been a consistent pattern throughout geological time: “If you screw with the climate enough, you have huge extinctions,” says Ridgwell….our emissions have taken just a couple of centuries so, as Zeebe points out:
      What we’re doing with our emissions is unprecedented in the past 66 million years!

      Reply
      • It’s unprecedented in all of time. The only possible way you get a short term emission from nature similar to the human one is a strong, and theoretical at this time, clathrate response. And that’s a feedback to initial heat forcing. If you look only at initial forcings, which is most relevant, we are six times faster than the Permian. The initial forcing is most important because it sets up conditions for all the rest.

        Reply
  39. Greg

     /  January 29, 2016

    Microcephaly map as of December:

    Reply
  40. Greg

     /  January 29, 2016

    Real Time Zika map:

    Reply
  41. Greg

     /  January 29, 2016

    As a follow-up to earlier thread on alternative energy fight…I have been watching for a large player to take up solar roadways and the French company Colas, a major road construction company, appears to have taken the mantle. They have the backing of the French gov’t which is willing to throw money at this, and do so at the scale of hundreds of miles, even though it likely isn’t profitable for now. Evert 20 m² of Wattway panels can supply the electricity requirements of a single home in France:

    http://www.globalconstructionreview.com/news/french-infras8truc8ture-fi8r8m-colas-joins-power/

    Reply
  42. Here we go—- a whole new world and some people are making loads—as in billions of dollars—from it. We will be hearing a lot about genetically modified mosquitoes and here is the company that stands to make a fortune from them:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/intrexon-spikes-20-oxitec-subsidiary-173404297.html

    “Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON) is Powering the Bioindustrial Revolution with Better DNA™ to create biologically-based products that improve the quality of life and the health of the planet. The Company’s integrated technology suite provides its partners across diverse markets with industrial-scale design and development of complex biological systems delivering unprecedented control, quality, function, and performance of living cells. We call our synthetic biology approach Better DNA®”

    “So what is Intrexon? It’s in the realm of “synthetic biology,” a more radical version of existing biotech genetic tweaking that includes reengineering living cells from the ground up. As my colleague Herper wrote: “One goal is to make protein drugs far more cheaply and efficiently than is ­possible today. Another is to transform living cells into tiny molecular factories to make everything from gasoline to ­construction materials. Some scientists even want to create entire new life forms from scratch.”

    Reply
    • Yeah. This seems to me like playing with fire. And you’d better hope that any cell that produces gasoline is carbon neutral or negative. Otherwise, that’s just adding to the carbon problem.

      But we should be very clear, as I have had a huge groundswell of misinformation coming in on Zika —

      There is no current factual evidence to show that Zika’s microcephalic or Barre related impacts are related to the virus’s interaction with genetically modified mosquitoes. That’s a rumor and an ill thought one at that. Zika virulence is the current most likely cause of microcephaly and we have no creditable scientific or environmental organization claiming that genetic modification of mosquitoes even had a small chance of impacting this virus.

      Unless there is a creditable source for such a serious claim, I will be taking down all links that cite an article claiming that Zika was spread by GM mosquitoes. Such reports now are completely baseless and are considered misinformation and rumor. As such, they do not add to the quality of the discussion.

      Now, if someone wants to ask the honest question — could a GM mosquito have altered this virus? Then maybe that’s a question worth speculating about. But simply throwing two dots on the map — 1. Instances of microcephaly and 2. Location of genetically engineered mosquito study in close correlation is not an indication of proof.

      It’s important to remember that correlation in space and time is not evidence of causation. It is what we call circumstantial evidence. Unless a mechanism can be identified by which GM organisms have some kind of altering interaction with a virus, then you have no proof to the correlation claim.

      Also, GM mosquitoes have only been used in small trial studies and are very likely not widespread enough to have had this level of impact on the human population. In order to achieve such a level of virility, the size of the mosquito population involved would be necessarily very large, which weighs pretty heavily against the rumors now being propagated.

      In addition, other GM mosquito studies have been conducted on other regions. So isolating one study location without a related context containing other study locations is also highly suspect.

      Reply
      • – Claims like, ‘Zika was spread by GM mosquitoes. ” etc. serve only to detract from the fact that global warming via humans burning fossil fuels contributes to ability of the Zika carrying mosquitoes to spread.

        ‘Zika via GM mosquitoes’ sounds like troll or ‘denier/liar talk and should be denied entry.
        AGW via FF is very likely running the show now.

        Reply
      • Robert,
        No need to post this, just wanted to express my concern about your comment : “I will be taking down all links that cite an article claiming that Zika was spread by GM mosquitoes. Such reports now are completely baseless and are considered misinformation and rumor. As such, they do not add to the quality of the discussion.”

        This leaves me puzzled as I’ve never heard this before (Zika linked with gm mosquitoes???!). I did not see that claim in any of the links I posted. Furthermore had I read that, I most certainly would have tried to learn more about the source and scientific studies to base such a claim. Apologies for an error on my part . . .

        With that said I believe it’s still worth learning as much as possible about the who, what, where, when, why AND possible unintentional consequences of the release of gm mosquitoes in the wild.

        As the zika virus explodes and more babies are born with the tragic congenital condition microcephaly it is likely that people will become desperate and move forward with any and all measures to eradicate the disease carrying mosquitos disregarding long term consequences.
        From what I read, this link does not contain anything about Zika being caused by gm mosquitoes —–it is well worth the read for those concerned about gmo’s:

        https://www.evb.ch/fileadmin/files/documents/Syngenta/Regnbrief-fin3_pdf.pdf

        Reply
        • Sorry if I gave the wrong impression, Caroline. Just to be clear, my comment in the reply to you about the GM mosquito related misinformation was a general statement and no critique on the links you had posted. Nor have I seen this misleading info coming from you. So my apologies to you for not adding that clairity in the statement.

          Since we are on the subject, it appears that snopes has now picked this up as ‘mostly false.’

          http://www.snopes.com/zika-virus-gmo-mosquitoes/

      • Hi Robert,
        Thank you for doing yet another giant moderating task! That’s one of the several reasons why your blog is one of the best ones I’ve ever saw.

        I’d like to add that even the “geographic coincidence” isn’t a coincidence.
        Juazeiro do Norte, BA is one of the cities (like Piracicaba) where GM mosquitos testings was done (BTW, GM-backlash stopped that experiment more than one year ago). It’s in northeast Brasil.

        Zika started in the Northeast Brasil. Near, right? Not really. Northeast Brasil is huge. The first confirmed cases of Zika in Brasil happened in the city of Camaçari, BA (article in Portuguese: http://g1.globo.com/bemestar/noticia/2016/01/o-grito-de-socorro-da-cidade-onde-surgiu-o-virus-zika-no-brasil.html ). It’s 716 km (around 444miles) away from Juazeiro do Norte. The first surge of microcephaly cases was noticed in Recife, Pernambuco, 596km (around 370miles) away from Juazeiro. True, that was probably because the epidemiologists were better there (there’s a strong possibility that the first cases of microcephaly were aborted twin babies not reported at first in Natal-RN, which is even further away from Juazeiro and Jacobina), but…

        GM mosquitos were also tested in Jacobina, Bahia. This is closer to Camaçari, at 329km (204miles) and more distant to Recife, 904km (561 miles). Anyway, not exactly close.

        While Zika spread very fast through the Northeast, if interaction with GM mosquitos were the cause of it’s “mutation” (I’m very ceptical about it being a mutation at all. There were a few extra cases of Guillam-Barré syndrome and microcephaly in the Polynesian epidemics, but those were small epidemics, with an small number of people affected. The difference, for me, seems not to be in the virus, but in the numbers), first cases of microcephaly should have happened in Piracicaba, where GM mosquitos are currently being tested, and not in Pernambuco or Rio Grande do Norte.

        Reply
  43. dnem

     /  January 29, 2016

    Completely OT, and a bit random, but I’ve been really struck by observing the rate of melting and the impact of albedo on melting since the big snow. The weather in Baltimore has been pretty mild and sunny, yet once you get a decent blanket down albedo is so high that it is quire resistant to melt. Except in the areas where dark surfaces have been exposed – roadways, roofs etc. Once you get a little patch of low albedo surface, melt progresses dramatically faster. It just makes me marvel at the outrageous energy imbalance that must exist to have caused the melting to date in the high albedo arctic, and the dramatic impact that reduced albedo – open seas for example – will increasingly have. The energy involved just boggles the mind!

    Reply
    • Anthony Sagliani ‏@anthonywx 5h5 hours ago

      Excellent hydro discussion from @NWS_BaltWash regarding snow melt and flood threat as we go forward into next week.

      Reply
  44. Christina in Honolulu

     /  January 29, 2016

    An article on Zika in the NYT today. This is a nightmare. Here in Hawaii there has been a Dengue outbreak on Big Island. I imagine Zika will be here presently.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/31/opinion/sunday/zika-mosquitoes-and-the-plagues-to-come.html

    Reply
    • Let’s hope not. I think there’s pretty huge effort ongoing now to contain this. But, yeah, there’s a troubling risk considering what’s happening to the virus’s virility. I was encouraged by the fact that a number agencies are working together now to rapidly develop a vaccine within 1 year. But even if we have a viable vaccine by that time, it will take a bit longer to scale up the mass production chain. Maybe 2 years if all works out. Still better than 10 years.

      Reply
    • doug

       /  January 30, 2016

      I don’t know if he’s wrong or right, but I use to live in Minnesota, and Michael Osterholm is known for exaggerating.

      Reply
      • Maria

         /  January 30, 2016

        Doug, I don’t know Mr. Osterholm but indeed he is being dramatic–I’ve been following Zika for about 6 weeks and have spoken to a pedi infectious disease specialist who is a friend of mine—she’s alarmed, worried about which direction this will go but there is also alot they don’t know. Like how efficient is sexual transmission is. What other types of neuro deficits the virus may confer on the babies, etc.. And most of all, how it went from relatively benign to causing birth defects..

        Mr. Osterholm is correct, imo, to point out that we have a short attention span and that we should anticipate these outbreaks and prepare for them..

        Reply
  45. Jeremy in Wales

     /  January 29, 2016

    The spread of disease caused by human movement or transport of animals or fauna is not new, the Justinian plague of 541AD was mighty scary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plague_of_Justinian , but the speed in which humans can now move disease or animals that cause disease or damage is a nightmare. Two mundane examples, animals introduced into the UK causing damage estimated at £2 billion a year in 2010 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduced_species_of_the_British_Isles and tree diseases rampaging through the UKs limited tree cover http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/earthnews/9704055/Ash-dieback-one-of-ten-epidemic-tree-pests-and-diseases.html
    Zika is certainly frightening but as others have indicated it strategy will not be unique and new diseases may well turn out to be the new normal. The global economy destroying itself and our enviroment basically.

    Reply
  46. Reply
  47. – From the shallow end of the gene pool:

    Florida’s leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, have both criticized federal action to combat climate change, with Rubio warning it would “destroy” the US economy and Bush predicting “someone in a garage somewhere” will solve the problem instead.
    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jan/29/jeb-bush-marco-rubio-climate-change-garage?CMP=share_btn_tw

    Reply
    • “Bush said he doubted sea level predictions for south Florida but, if they did come true, he has told his wife that they should move house.”

      – When in doubt move the house. Eh?

      Reply
      • How about — when in doubt, switch to renewables? Nice that he was so considerate of those who lack the resources to move the house…

        Reply
      • Ryan in New England

         /  January 31, 2016

        We’re long past the point where Republican “policy” ideas are a bad joke, or even just plain dangerous. American Republicans are the greatest threat to the future of current life on Earth, including humans. Their anti-science and anti-reality rhetoric has created a substantial portion of the populace that is now completely delusional, and their entire view of the world is factually incorrect. The Republicans need ignorant voters to survive. Any party that enacts policies that only benefit the top 1% by definition requires voters to vote against their own best interests, and they do that by making them afraid and resentful of their fellow Americans. They hate minorities for “getting government handouts”, that don’t reallly exist except in the minds of Republicans. They hate homosexuals, because God forbid they have the same rights as everyone else. They hate poor people, because “they get government handouts” and they should just be rich already. They hate non-Christians, because every good American knows that’s the correct religion. They hate intellectuals and college professors, because reality has a very well known liberal bias. That’s why Texas has banned teaching critical thinking in schools. They hate scientists, again because of reality, and also because the “world’s scientists are getting rich from grants to study climate change at the expense of the poverty stricken oil companies”. They hate foreigners, because USA, USA, USA!! I can go on and on and on.

        For someone to deny climate change, and vote against their future and the future of their entire family and friends for generations and generations, which is what Republicans are asking, they must possess a profound ignorance and/or delusional view of the world. Republicans count on it.

        Reply
    • Jeremy in Wales

       /  January 29, 2016

      and what is the view of the elephant who was not in the room. Does Trump have any policies or is it solely inflammatory soundbites. From 3,500 miles away the politics looks like a parody of “The Office” but with more serious consequences.

      Reply
  48. – More N

    Air pollution from Europe’s planes set to rise by nearly half

    EU study predicts 43% rise in NOx emissions from planes within two decades, due to increased air traffic

    Air pollution from planes in Europe is to rise by nearly half in the next two decades, according to the EU’s first aviation environment report.

    Aircraft emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are linked to lung damage, doubled since 1990 and are forecast to rise 43% by 2035.

    The increase so far tracks a rise in the number of flights over the last 25 years, and a similar jump in the sector’s carbon dioxide emissions
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/29/air-pollution-from-europes-planes-set-to-rise-by-nearly-half

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  January 29, 2016

      A huge portion of the local pollution generated by airports involves aircraft that are moving along the ground. We need to move rapidly past the time where huge turbine engines are spinning just to move the jet at a walking pace along the taxiway.
      “Using the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) generator to power motors in the main wheels, EGTS allows aircraft to taxi and pushback fully autonomously without requiring the use of aircraft engines.”
      http://www.safranmbd.com/egtstm

      Reply
      • OK, but to me it’s still just a techno band-aid on grossly polluting immoral industry ferrying heavier than air homo saps through a severely damaged atmosphere.
        How much FF energy do you think it took just to fabricate this crutch?
        .
        -Form the above article:

        Reply
        • I’d be careful here, DT. The system obviously increases efficiency and reduces net carbon emissions in an existing system. Claims based on more carbon input than saved tend to be based on fuzzy math in these instances.

      • :) Like, “don’t leave hoe without one.”

        Reply
      • ‘home’

        Reply
      • Looks like a good innovation to me. It will help reduce overall carbon emissions from air travel if widely applied as well as aid in local pollution reduction. Of course, we also need to push hard to make all air travel carbon neutral. Per capita, air travel is still one of the ways you can basically blow your individual carbon budget. So if more people are going to be flying, then we really need to focus in on not letting this get out of hand.

        Reply
      • Griffin

         /  January 30, 2016

        I understand the frustration with the aviation industry DT. You are absolutely right that the atmosphere is badly damaged. But we know that we are not going to wake up tomorrow to find a complete re-make of our global economy. We have to continue to push for every incremental change that can be made in a positive direction. Keeping the engines from running while taxiing (even the single engine taxi method employed by airlines now is very wasteful when they are crawling along, waiting in line) would be a huge improvement in overall airline operations. Now, combine that with a big push towards biofuels and things are trending in a good direction. Kudos to Seattle for leading the way with the biofuel push.
        http://www.boeing.com/company/about-bca/washington/seatac-biofuel-12-18-15.page

        Reply
      • Jeremy in Wales

         /  January 30, 2016

        A lot of the pollution around airports is simply the traffic generated. One of the simple ways in which pollution could be quickly reduced would be to mandate that all airside traffic should be electric and that all public transport, shuttle buses and then taxis are also electric.
        There also seems to be a lot of development around electric or hybrid light aircraft. such as the Airbus E-fan.

        Reply
        • I’d push for electrification of airport traffic as well. Both on the Tarmac and off. Seems like a good way to reduce net emissions from this bit of infrastructure. I’d consider the change in taxi from turbine driven to electric driven similar to the innovation in automobiles that shuts the engine off during idling. It’s a good advance that reduces overall emissions. Not a larger solution. But it could be part of a growing trend toward decarbonizing air travel.

  49. Colorado Bob

     /  January 29, 2016

    Wet blanket: from ice to umbrellas, Hong Kong endures most January rain since records began in 1884

    Total rainfall of 233.8mm recorded up to Thursday, breaking record of 214.3mm in 1887. Observatory says El Nino partly to blame
    http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/1906555/wet-blanket-ice-umbrellas-hong-kong-endures-most

    Reply
  50. redskylite

     /  January 29, 2016

    From the National Geographic photos from Brazil on the fight against Zika . .

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/160129-zika-virus-photos-brazil/

    Reply
  51. Barbara Burnett

     /  January 29, 2016

    Potential Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus
    See the Whole CDC Report Here
    http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/21/2/14-1363_article

    Ouch….

    Reply
  52. Continuing discussion on possible Zika virus pandemic at:
    http://www.avianflutalk.com/zika-virus-moves-towards-a-pandemic-2016_topic35126_page3.html

    Note: Some of the “guest” posts appear to me to be a bit “far out” (i.e. conspiratorial) at times–but the posts by those who provide links to respectable research data seem to provide solid information.

    Reply
  53. Wharf Rat

     /  January 30, 2016

    How Much Will El Niño Help to Quench California’s Grinding Drought?
    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/how-much-will-el-nio-help-to-quench-californias-grinding-drought

    H/T to Maria. Her guy Dan Swain appears in this article. He had predicted Rat would be living in El Nino’s bullseye. I checked the paper when I was in town today. We had almost 43″, compared to the average of 37″. This was thru ? noon, Wed. It rained hard last night; think I got 3 more inches. I gets 10-15% more rain than town does, so I’m closer to 50″.

    Reply
    • Maria

       /  January 30, 2016

      Umbrios and all..any opinions on how/can/should CRISPR be used to control Aeges

      http://www.nature.com/news/gene-drive-mosquitoes-engineered-to-fight-malaria-1.18858

      Reply
      • I’m a big fan of the use of GM modified mosquitos to control Aedes populations. So far the only problem that I’ve seem reported in the experimental trials is that the termination gene used, which kills the mosquitos in ambients devoid of Tetraciclina (they need to have a way to reproduce the mosquitos, after all) can fail in cases of antibiotic contaminated waterways (specifically, it failed around a cat-food factory, because of tetracicline pollution they were causing in waterways nearby).

        I must confess that I’m not familiar with the specific technic used to produce the GM mosquitos. But in the case of A. aegypti, which is an invasive species and transmits not only Zika, but also Dengue and Chikungunya, using a terminator gene instead of immunizing the mosquito against only one virus seems a better option.

        Reply
      • Thanks for the link Maria—-have not read it yet but am curious.

        In response to Umbrio’s comment regarding technique for GM mosquitoes —–here is one of many links that describe the process: http://www.geek.com/science/biotech-company-to-release-millions-of-genetically-modified-mosquitoes-in-florida-1614727/

        I was involved in the field of conservation biology for many years and know all too well the problems associated with invasive species (usually introduced by humans) and the havoc they can wreak on ecosystems (the latest I’m struggling with is Eurasian milfoil). With that said, I do not share your confidence in the use of GM insects.

        “Oxitec’s plan involves the production of mosquitoes with modified genetic code containing DNA from the herpes simplex virus, E. coli, coral, and cabbage plants. This is accomplished by injecting eggs with modified DNA as seen below. Millions of these organisms would be bred, then the females would be removed from the population before release. Females are the ones that bite and drink blood, so only non-biting male mosquitoes should be released in Florida, assuming the FDA approves.
        These GMO insects will go about their business doing regular mosquito things until they mate with wild female mosquitoes. The modified DNA in the experimental insects will cause all the offspring from this union to die, thus reducing the population of mosquitoes by crowding out wild-type males that can produce viable offspring. This also means the GMO mosquitoes are self-limiting as they cannot reproduce.
        That’s not to say there are no concerns. For example, it’s possible some female mosquitoes could be accidentally released and bite humans. Oxitec says even if that happens, there’s no evidence that would result in the transfer of modified DNA, or that such a thing would harm anyone.”

        What this article fails to include is that altered males are fed the antibiotic tetracycline in the lab and then introduced into the wild, where they mate with wild females.

        Many scientists and citizens throughout the world are concerned about the use of GM insects. A blog that assesses threats seems like an appropriate place to explore the facts regarding GM insects as well as the concerns from the scientific community about their release. Making unsubstantiated claims is another matter . . . . .
        No one (far as I know) can guarantee that there will not unintentional consequences when altering the genetic code of life and launching it into the wild. The box has been opened, millions of mosquitoes have been released. In Brazil such a release was supposed to have prevented problems at the World Cup (article in Bloomberg from 2014 singing the praises of GM mosquitoes entitled: “World Cup may be last Tournament for Dengue Mosquitoes”)—— clearly this was not the case.

        Reply
      • Caroline,
        Before posting the other comment I erased a paragraph reminding that fear of transgenic organisms isn’t irrational, and I’d never claim such. Maybe I should have left it.

        I known that transgenics can be bad. Not only by seeing the effects in the environment and in society of things like Bt corn and Round-up-ready soy, but also by being affected by them personally: I’m allergic to Round-up (not to gliphosate, to one of the excipients in the formula), and that means, today, that I’m allergic to everything that contains soy (at least here in Brasil), besides a lot of other things (the substance I’m allergic too is used as an excipient in some other agrotoxics too, and as a fragrance enhancer in parfums and cleaning products, and is added to tobaco products…). I can feel (painfully) how much transgenic products are sold in hidden ways… and here in Brasil, we DO have obligatory transgenic labeling (and yes, I’m HIGHLY in favor of that too.).

        The way Monsanto does businness is bad (and unfortunally, that company is synonym with transgenics nowdays), the effects on the environment of making plants produce their own agrotoxics in their very bodies are what one could expect (what an idiotic idea was that anyway?!), and besides experiencing a very personal health problem with some transgenics I personally am convinced that the epidemiological articles done in Argentina about Bt corn have showed enough fearful data that we should err in the side of caution. Also, I agree that messing with life’s fundamental recipe gives a strong, visceral reaction of “bad” in the gut.

        That said, transgenics are still a tool.

        Actually, several tools, when I mentioned that I was not familiar with the tech used by Oxitec, is because I don’t known how they’re changing the mosquitos exactly, if they’re using BAC-transgenics or CRISPR or another method. I do known that they’re using transgenes and that they have used a termination gene that kills the mosquito larvae in the absence of tetracicline (I mentioned in another comment that one of the biggest failures seem in their tests so far was that some GM larvae DID survive to adulthood in waterways contamined by tetracicline by a cat feed plant).

        But what do I mean by “tool”? Transgenics is one of the several ways we humans are changing our environment. It’s a powerful tool, but it isn’t the most frightening one (fossil fuels beat them for their lunch money), and while there’s a part of me that longs for a wilderness that I’ve never met, I known that the human world is here to stay (for a while, even if we don’t). I see our species different tools, and I known that people are going to use them to shape the world.

        For example: people ARE going to try to control Aedes aegypti populations. It would be a better world if we had never brought Aedes aegypti to the Americas? Probably, but that ship sailed (pun intended) centuries ago.

        Can we control Aedes aegypti with all natural methods? Well, if people were ameanable to bulldoze all cities and replace them with natural rain forest, cerrado and caatinga, yes, Aedes aegypti doesn’t survive in those environments. That would solve a lot of other problems too, and create as many, since the hunter-gatherer-small coivara agriculture lifestyle required for humans to live in the natural ecossystems of Brasil can’t support a population as big as what we have now (it could support about 10% of our population sustainably, but I wouldn’t want to be in the 90%).

        As long as people still live in cities, though, we’re sharing Aedes aegypti heaven. Some measures can and should be taken to curb the mosquitos population (basic sanitation services, for example, are sorely lacking here), some measures can diminish the number of mosquitos (like attention to all sorts of still water and mosquito-nets), but none of those can erradicate the mosquito. Aedes laughs at citronella bushes (they affect Culex mosquitos, but Aedes aegypt has been resistant to it for decades in Brasil). Other measures of control will be used.

        And the other tools in the box for battling Aedes aegypt are various forms of poison (some bad, some worst) or the GM mosquitos. I’ve been following Oxitec tests with interest for a while (a few years) now, since they started doing tests in Brasil, and their results are making me feel that their product can be a viable alternative. Will they have environmental consequences? Yes. But results so far are that the consequences aren’t as bad as the environmental consequences of competing inseticides. By a large enough margin that the safer side, in my vision, seems to be the GM mosquitos instead of the other inseticides. I can agree to disagree on that if you’re not convinced. Oxitec licences are all experimental still, anyway.

        But I do need to highlight that no, I didn’t expected their results to include a Dengue-free country by World Cup 2014. Bloomberg articulists were lying through their teeth on that.

        Oxitec doesn’t have the size to produce the number of mosquitos needed for that feat, nor the legal authorization. They only have a experimental license, not a full commercial licence. They have been allowed to test their method in three different cities until now, in controlled neighborhoods. Their factory can produce 18 million GM-mosquitos/year, and that may seem like a lot, but it isn’t. That’s enough mosquitos to treat a city of 300 thousand habitants, in order to get similar results to those in Piracicaba.

        We have 205 million habitants in Brasil, 81% living in cities, and with basically all of our country (a few mountain areas of Santa Catarina aside) with a climate that can harbor Aedes aegyti. Oxitec releases would need to be orders of magnitude larger to erradicate Aedes aegypti in Brasil.

        BTW, I think that you’re the one that commented on what would it take to cancel the Olympics (or at least, move them out of Rio de Janeiro. I believe Dubai was the alternate location in case of major failure?). I totally agree with you on that, the Olympics are going to be a disaster, and I wish there was a way to dodge that bullet.

        Reply
    • Maria

       /  January 30, 2016

      Wharf—that’s the most beautiful version of Hard Rain I’ve ever heard. Thanks.

      Reply
  54. Vic

     /  January 30, 2016

    Fertiliser prices in “freefall” caused by a global supply glut combined with a slump in demand. This all sounds so familiar.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-29/fertiliser-market-outlook-2016/7120564

    Koch Industries amongst the losers. 😢

    Reply
  55. – Pretty good size, indeed.

    Anthony Sagliani ‏@anthonywx 5h5 hours ago

    This monstrous-sized storm centered near Nova Scotia really is a thing of beauty.

    Reply
    • nthony Sagliani ‏@anthonywx 4h4 hours ago

      Major winter storm beginning to pummel the Canadian Maritimes.

      Reply
      • Cate

         /  January 30, 2016

        Yes, it’s just about over now—-time to get out the shovels! A pretty typical winter storm here in central Newfoundland. Nova Scotia was hit worse—more power outages.

        Reply
  56. A large sinkhole closed a highway in Oregon on Thursday, sending asphalt tumbling into the earth below. kyle0440/YouTube

    Reply
  57. – A nice powerful display of compassion here:
    YouTube Newswire ‏@ytnewswire 5h5 hours ago

    Two Greek soccer teams interrupt match to sit in silence for #refugees who have diedhttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/CZ7MkkgWwAAfyJO.png

    Reply
  58. – Flood damaged infrastructure and public health USA:

    Due to damage done by the historic flooding this winter, the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District(MSD) is asking the public is asked to avoid the Meramec River between the Mississippi River and Fenton, Mo.

    The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has been diverting untreated wastewater into the Meramec River since flooding damaged the Fenton Wastewater Treatment Plant during the flooding in late December. They say this does not cause any immediate threat to public health and safety.
    – ksdk.com/story/news/local/2016/01/29/public-asked-avoid-meramec

    Reply
  59. Home | Policy | Transportation
    Airlines offering refunds for flights to Zika-prone areas

    U.S. airlines are offering refunds for flights to areas in the Caribbean and Latin America that have been affected by the Zika virus, The Associated Press reports.

    – thehill.com/policy/transportation/267508-airlines-offering-refunds-for-flights-to-zika-prone-areas

    Reply
  60. Andy in SD

     /  January 30, 2016

    South Florida Is Sinking. Where Is Marco Rubio?

    As the water table rises, groundwater bubbles up through storm drains. As that happens more often, in addition to flooding streets, it will cause more than a million septic tanks in the Miami area to bust, and if engineering precautions are not taken soon, that will contaminate the groundwater. At that point, the city will be, literally, in the shit.

    http://www.newsweek.com/2016/02/05/marco-rubio-climate-change-denier-south-florida-flood-crisis-420326.html

    Reply
  61. redskylite

     /  January 30, 2016

    This is a powerful post, people are worried about sea level rise, agriculture, but health risks are rarely addressed . . . . . .

    We need to wake up and smell the roses . . .

    http://www.citylab.com/weather/2016/01/zika-virus-el-nino-climate-change-infectious-disease/433905/

    Reply
  62. Jeremy

     /  January 30, 2016

    Climate induced locust plague.

    “BUENOS AIRES — Farmers and fumigators in Argentina are running out of time as they scramble to control the country’s worst plague of locusts in more than half a century, officials warned on Monday.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/26/world/americas/argentina-scrambles-to-fight-biggest-plague-of-locusts-in-60-years.html?mtrref=undefined&_r=2

    Reply
  63. Colorado Bob

     /  January 30, 2016

    Record permafrost erosion in Alaska bodes ill for Arctic infrastructure

    The record erosion German scientists have been measuring in Alaska probably hasn’t been making the headlines because it is happening in a very sparsely populated area, where no homes or important structures are endangered.

    Nevertheless, it certainly provides plenty of food for thought, says permafrost scientist Jens Strauss from the Potsdam-based research unit of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). He and an international team have measured riverbank, erosion rates which exceed all previous records along the Itkillik River in northern Alaska. In a study published in the journal Geomorphology, the researchers report that the river is eating into the bank at 19 metres per year in a stretch of land where the ground contains a particularly large quantity of ice.

    “These results demonstrate that permafrost thawing is not exclusively a slow process, but that its consequences can be felt immediately”, says Strauss.

    http://blogs.dw.com/ice/?p=16859

    Reply
  64. PlazaRed

     /  January 30, 2016

    I’m thinking about all the information in the comments on here concerning the virus etc.
    I shall keep a very close watch on the European news fro information about Zika spreading into Europe. People here may in some cases at least not take this too seriously yet.

    Meanwhile off the main blog subject but significant in the European world of weather.
    There is a huge storm in the British Isles are causing all sorts of damage including costal erosion.

    http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/storm-gertrudes-100mph-winds-cause-chaos-across-uk/ar-BBoSl0N?li=BBoPWjQ

    Reply
  65. Maria

     /  January 30, 2016

    I posted this upthread to Umbrios but not sure how often this poster checks in…Brasil is now dramatically revising estimates—downward–re; Zika-implicated microcephaly cases. The truth still is that looking at the current much smaller #’s confirmed, and they have over 3K yet to analyze, the incidence of microcephaly has doubled between 2014-2015.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/01/29/brazil-may-have-fewer-zika-related-microcephaly-cases-than-previously-reported/

    Reply
    • Hi Maria,
      Sorry, I don’t always have acess to the internet where I live, so I don’t check these posts quite so often.
      Frankly, my impression about it is that this is a very convenient number fudging for our government, something that the actual administration is very fond of, in a huge number of ways (at least once every three months there’s another “official news article” claiming that a bad situation isn’t really as bad as first reported here in Brasil.).

      Microcephaly numbers in Brasil were, before this recent change, based on research done by Oswaldo Cruz, historically the most important epidemiologist that ever lived in Brasil. He used data from local populations to base his numbers. This is ancient research (Oswaldo Cruz lived in the beggining of the XX century), but it was based on brazilian data. And as far as physical steriotipes go, the “big-headed caboclo” isn’t (or wasn’t) so wrong (sorry if anyone takes offense). Brasil’s historical data has used the 33cm measure as an indicative of microcephaly since we had epidemiological data, basically.

      WHO’s baseline for microcephaly isn’t 33cm, but 32cm, though. And that allowed the government to change the baseline, diminish the official numbers and look good (not too good, but our federal government is desperate for any kind of “good” news lately). There are a few annedotical reports about how babies in the 32cm -33cm line are also showing signs of brain damage, but they’ll need to grow up a little (all babies affected are still very young, the epidemics isn’t even one year old yet) before they can be throughly tested.

      And notice that without an official diagnostic, those babies aren’t granted much medical care. While we do have a public health system, it’s not very good one. It’s based in medication, not prevention, scheduling medical exams may take months and post-natal counseling is very limited, specially when there’s an epidemy and the baby is officially one of the “healthy ones”.

      So I see the new official baselines as bad news, not good ones. Maybe 32cm is really a better cutting line, but…

      Reply
  66. Spike

     /  January 30, 2016

    Another paleoclimate guy speaks out about the reality of our situation.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-29/glikson-the-dilemma-of-a-climate-scientist/7123246

    Reply
  67. Thanks for the clarification above Robert.

    You may have seen this—-a bit OT:
    “A new study shows clouds are playing a larger role in heating the Greenland Ice Sheet than scientists previously believed, raising its temperature by 2 to 3 degrees compared to cloudless skies and accounting for as much as 30 percent of the ice sheet melt. (Photo by Hannes Grobe)”
    http://news.ls.wisc.edu/announcements/study-shows-clouds-trap-heat-melting-greenland-ice-sheet/

    Now time to take a break from all the bad news! Hope you and the readers of your blog can do the same and find some joy/peace/light this weekend amidst the darkness of this climate crisis (as Dr. Moench calls it—-he feels “climate change” is too benign sounding).

    Reply
  68. Anthony Sagliani ‏@anthonywx 12m12 minutes ago

    A lot of water held in snowpack over mid-Atlantic. Much/all of it released next 5 days. Significant flood threat.

    Reply
  69. Mikko Takkunen ‏@photojournalism 2h2 hours ago

    Tears and bewilderment in Brazilian city facing Zika crisis

    Reply
  70. Colorado Bob

     /  January 30, 2016

    How the rocky western coastline of Britain is reshaped by extreme weather

    Dr Naylor’s research was carried out in March 2008 at the time of an extra-tropical cyclone named Johanna which led to coastal erosion and flooding from Wales to Northern Spain. Her research showed that, “contrary to popular assumptions, rock coasts do erode quickly and that coastal boulders are transported up to 10s of metres daily under storm conditions in Wales”.

    “The powerful waves were so strong that large (0.67 ton) boulders as long as an adult and heavier than a washing machine were lifted and flipped over while smaller, shoebox-sized boulders moved up to 50 m in 24 hours and over 90 metres in four days. Other boulders were broken into smaller pieces and the rock bed was ripped apart, creating new boulders,” said Dr Naylor.

    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-01-rocky-western-coastline-britain-reshaped.html#jCp

    Reply
    • Jeremy in Wales

       /  January 30, 2016

      Cliffs seem so permanent but when they shift it happens in a blink of an eye. On the west coast of Britain what happened in 1607 in the Severn estuary, either a storm or a tsunami, should be a wake up call to those living on the coast. You never know what to expect as the power in water is devestating especially with more energy now being pumped into natural systems.

      Reply
  71. Jeremy

     /  January 30, 2016

    Listen – 30 mins.

    “Australian climate scientist Tim Flannery reviews some new, cutting-edge approaches to restraining or halting global warming.

    Flannery opposes risky “geoengineering” schemes. But the new, “Third Way” approaches, he says, are different. Based on natural processes, they actually remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

    http://newworldnotes.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/climate-change-hope.html

    Reply
  72. redskylite

     /  January 30, 2016

    The news gets worse . .

    At least 20,000 infected by Zika virus in Colombia

    Women account for 63.6 percent of the cases, of whom at least 2,000 are pregnant.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/01/20000-infected-zika-virus-colombia-160130165855047.html

    Reply
  73. The New Face of Hunger: How Statistics Underestimate the Food Problem
    By Frances Moore Lappé


    When I wrote Diet for a Small Planet 45 years ago, scary headlines told us that “too little food and too many people” make famine inevitable. I discovered that there was more than enough food for all of us—but we’ve created food systems that actively turn plenty into the experience of scarcity.

    Now, 800 million are counted as “hungry,” while we produce about 40 percent more food per person than we did when I first sat furiously adding up the numbers. Daily per capita calories available stand at almost 2,900, well above what’s necessary.

    So here we are, with continuing hunger alongside vast abundance and waste.

    What I didn’t foresee when I began this journey, however, was hunger’s new face: a growing disconnect between food and nutrition that requires a profound rethinking of hunger.

    In the United States, about 40 percent of the calories our children eat are nutritionally empty. The impact of a similar disconnect in regions of vast hunger is startling: A doctor in a rural Indian clinic told me of a major change over the last few decades. “My patients get enough calories,” he explained, “but now 60 percent suffer diabetes and heart conditions.”
    http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/34591-the-new-face-of-hunger-how-statistics-underestimate-the-food-problem

    Reply
  74. Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  January 30, 2016

      Flash floods strike Sydney and 50,000 homes are left without power as ‘dangerous’ weather lashes the east coast – while a 17-year-old girl is struck by lightning while sitting on a public toilet in Queensland

      Read more: Link

      Reply
  75. One aspect of the Zika microcephaly victims is that the part of the brain used to run these victims bodies is undersized and damaged, too.

    So, most of them will be sickly, a psychiatric healthcare professional friend of our family says. They won’t ever really be healthy and thrive, most of them, our friend says. Seizures and behavioral problems are very likely for most of them. This will put a great deal of stress on the health care systems of the affected areas.

    Damn…they’re doing CAT scans and some of the Zika infants’ brains look really damaged:

    http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/01/29/464811052/doctors-see-profound-abnormalities-in-zika-linked-microcephaly-cases

    “A normal brain has ridges like coral. The brains of these babies look “like a smooth rock,” he says….

    …”They are not going to be functional,” he says of the babies he has examined. “They’ll need care for the rest of their lives.”…

    …”We are seeing cases in the hospital of children who have normal size heads but are having neurological lesions and eye lesions,” he says. “And we are extremely concerned … this might suggest that [the microcephaly cases] are just the tip of the iceberg.”

    Oh, damn. Even in Zika children with normal sized heads, they seem to be seeing a range of neurological and eye lesions. Ouch…damn.

    Reply
  76. Jeremy

     /  January 30, 2016

    Tasmania fires: First images of World Heritage Area devastation emerge, show signs of ‘system collapse’

    “The first images to emerge from within Tasmania’s fire-affected World Heritage Area (WHA) have illustrated the level of destruction caused by bushfire, as experts warn such incidents are signs of a changing climate.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-30/fire-ravages-world-heritage-area-tasmania-central-plateau/7127300

    Reply
  77. Paul

     /  January 30, 2016

    This about the recent Tasmania fires.
    The first images to emerge from within Tasmania’s fire-affected World Heritage Area (WHA) have illustrated the level of destruction caused by bushfire, as experts warn such incidents are signs of a changing climate.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-30/fire-ravages-world-heritage-area-tasmania-central-plateau/7127300

    Reply
  78. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    Jeremy / January 30, 2016

    Listen – 30 mins.

    GREAT CATCH !

    Reply
  79. mlparrish

     /  January 31, 2016

    Articles from Google Scholar to give an idea of mental retardation in microcephaly. Old but still relevant. Variation depending on the population studied. Regardless of cause, the overall prognosis in microcephaly is dismal.

    1. Microcephaly and Mental Retardation Harold P. Martin, MD Am J Dis Child. 1970;119(2):128-131. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1970.02100050130007.
    “In a review of 202 microcephalic children evaluated at a child development center, from 7.5% to 13.5% were developing normally. More than half of these children, while not retarded, had evidence of brain damage or dysfunction. ”
    2. Pediatrics. July 1965, VOLUME 36 / ISSUE 1
    HEAD CIRCUMFERENCE, MENTAL RETARDATION, AND GROWTH FAILURE
    Edward J. O’Connell, Robert H. Feldt, Gunnar B. Stickler
    “The purpose of this study was to re-affirm our clinical impression that non-institutionalized children whose head circumference was below minus 2 standard deviations were mentally subnormal and frequently had growth failure. A group of 134 children with a head circumference below minus 2 standard deviations from the mean were studied, and all but one were mentally subnormal. The most severe mental retardation was noted in the group of children with a head circumference of minus 4 standard deviations or below. ”
    3. THE PREDICTIVE VALUE OF MICROCEPHALY DURING THE FIRST YEAR OF LIFE FOR MENTAL RETARDATION AT SEVEN YEARS. H. Dolk. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. Volume 33, Issue 11, pages 974–983, November 1991.
    “Of 41 term infants surviving to seven years of age with head circumferences (HC) -3 SD, 21 were mentally retarded (IQ 70) at seven years. HC – 2 SD was associated with mental retardation in 11 per cent of children. . . Mental retardation in children with HC – 3 SD was more common in children with additional pathology. . .

    Reply
  80. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    Once again Jeremy , a really great catch –

    Australian climate scientist Tim Flannery reviews some new, cutting-edge approaches to restraining or halting global warming.

    I highly recommend this clip to everyone . If you think that taking steps to change our ways will, “wreck the economy” , his thought experiment on 1915 to 1950 is pretty compelling. If you think we’re all doomed his solutions list is just as compelling.

    Reply
  81. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    Reply
  82. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    Edvard Grieg – Morning Mood

    Reply
  83. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    We did not get out of Africa, because we lay down in despair. We do not have this comfortable world because we are evil. We here because our thumb is a better design .

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  January 31, 2016

      No thumb no music. No thumb no hammer. No thumb no spear. No thumb no arrowhead on the spear.

      I used tease my dogs, “You’d be me if had a thumb”. They would smile back in unconditional love , something our thumb never master.

      Reply
  84. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    If you listen to 2 clips above , you will know them from old cartoons. Why , because Disney, and Warner Brothers didn’t have to pay copyright fees. If they had to pay, those old cartoons would be much much different.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  January 31, 2016

      And who doesn’t love “The Hall of the Mountain King” ?

      The oboes get their due. Notice all the thumbs at work.

      Reply
  85. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    Saturday night, and Paul Kanter’s dead . Last week it was Glenn Fry. The week before it was Bowie. I don’t like this pattern at all . But for this space, and this time one of Kanter’s best –
    It’s a Wild Tyme –

    “I’m doing things that don’t have a name yet”.

    I was milking goats at the Mineral Hot Springs . Which is still a great place to see. One of Colorado’s top ten.

    Reply
  86. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    Later on, I was very close friends with Tom Masterson in Estes Park. he wrote one of the best Jefferson Airplane songs ever.

    I asked him about it, he was looking out of window in the Haight . He saw girl walking up the street. He was drinking Ripple. It took him 15 minutes and 2 bottles.

    His royalty checks killed him .

    Reply
    • Cate

       /  February 1, 2016

      Colorado Bob, thanks so much for going OT—haven’t heard this song in yonks. Nice to listen again—it was one of my favourites on this, my favourite album ever. Loved Kantner, wanted to BE Slick for those 25 perfect minutes in 1967 (what chick didn’t), love Grieg too

      Reply
  87. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    Life is funny old dog.

    Reply
  88. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    Now back to this grim grind , I thought the Vietnam War was grim . We dropped more explosives on Vietnam than all our bombing raids in World War II , except for the A bombs.

    Anyone who tells you bombing people will solve our problems is a fool, And not just a fool. But an ignorant fool.

    Reply
  89. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    So to everyone here, I drift off topic. this is my sin, But we all can’t do this without some relief. And RS let;s me get away with it.

    So somewhere , somehow one can not grind on this without hope., and relief.

    And God knows that’s we all need , hope., and relief.

    Reply
    • Damn right we do. It’s always a bit of a grind when we get a big issue like Zika. For me, there are always these distractions coming in that make me want to pull my hair out. So it tends to be a huge amount of effort separating wheat from chaff.

      OT: RE the Nevada solar fight, it appears that Berkshire Hathaway lobbyists were pivotal in setting up these draconian policies that killed off the rooftop solar industry there. One of the main beneficiaries of these policies was NV Energy who produces 98 percent of its electricity from fossil fuels and is wholly owned by Buffet’s company.

      Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  February 1, 2016

      I know I never mind, and often enjoy, when you drift off topic, Bob:) Don’t apologize.

      On another note, 60 Minutes has a piece tonight on climatologists studying Greenland’s glaciers, and are focusing on a new study that looks deep into the interior of the ice sheet to better understand the melting that’s occurring.

      Reply
  90. – For Bob
    Eric Blake ‏@EricBlake12 7h7 hours ago

    .@NWS update has upped #snow totals a few inches- 8-18″ now for most of the #Colorado Front Range

    Reply
    • CA NV Sierras
      NWS Reno ‏@NWSReno 6h6 hours ago

      Some of the biggest wind, rain and snow totals, and increases in lake and river levels from Jan. 29-30 storm.

      Reply
      • – CA NV USA
        Ps In the summer of 1970 my first wife and I were married at S. Lake Tahoe, NV so as she could sponsor me in gaining Landed Immigrant status in Canada. I am very grateful to her.

        A few days later I became a legal resident of CN after have been living there illegally nine months, and living underground in California for three months.

        It turned out that I wasn’t indicted for Selective Service violations until the spring of 1972.
        And I wasn’t about to ask the DOJ about my status while trying to stay at least one mailing address ahead of the USPS. You see, Draft Notices were just thrown into the mail hopper along with the rest of the bills and junk mail.
        But if one did not respond, one was liable for $10k fine and or 5 years in jail.

        The indictment was eventually dropped in June, 1976.
        So it went…

        Reply
      • – My indictment was dropped for two reasons:

        The first due to my being unfit for military duty because of my having (as documented) Hodgkins Diease.
        The second because DOD/DOJ et al could not prove that I actually received the Notice to Report for Induction.

        I resisted not because I opposed military service per se (such as actual defense of physical harm) but because the USG and military industrial complex involvement in SE Asia at that was mostly unsound and ruthless.

        Civilians were being harmed by all sides, and some of our effort went to helping them.
        Thanks for listening.
        ###

        Reply
      • DT, sounds like quite the ordeal–for years. That was a tough time while someone of your age dealing with Hodgkins as an added layer–a different kind of fight. But terrifying nonetheless. Treatments at that time were just being developed and they were hard and harsh–huge bow for hanging tough to get to the other side.

        Reply
  91. Anthony Sagliani Retweeted
    Levi Cowan ‏@TropicalTidbits 6h6 hours ago

    Added some plots from the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME):

    Reply
  92. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    Big kiss to the mods ,

    You know I’m right, being stupid is is not “fair and balanced”. .

    Reply
  93. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    I’m stuck in the Hall of the Mountain King,

    Reply
  94. redskylite

     /  January 31, 2016

    RobertScribbler Thanks for the focus and highlighting this monster, WHO and other distinguished medical authorities have warned us for some time now about the escalating mosquito threats. What is worse ? dying from Ebola or condemning a new generation to malformed brain and health care (if the country they are born in can provide it). This is a low point, and as far as I’m concerned global warming has spread this to greater zones and is very implicated. It is horrific, I read some of the tactless comments in this Guardian article, it makes me wonder, who are we ?

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/30/zika-virus-health-fears

    Reply
  95. redskylite

     /  January 31, 2016

    Music can lift your spirit and make you feel good . . .

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  January 31, 2016

      redskylite / January 31, 2016

      Music can lift your spirit and make you feel good . . .

      That is my point . , and it can make you want to kick ass.

      Reply
  96. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    redskylite and everyone breath , and breath deeply .

    And make no mistake I’m at Hall of the Mountain King. .
    It’s only 2:39 mins. long. But the oboes are still playing.

    Reply
  97. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    redskylite

    I spent my entire life being break man on the Hell Bound Train.

    Reply
  98. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    Savoy Brown – Louisiana Blues

    Reply
  99. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    redskylite

    I spent my entire life being a break man on the Hell Bound Train.

    Reply
  100. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    redskylite

    I spent my entire life being a break man on the Hell Bound Train.

    Waylon Jennings – Brown Eyed Handsome Man

    Reply
  101. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    redskylite

    I spent my entire life being a break man on the Hell Bound Train.

    Waylon Jennings – Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way

    Reply
  102. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    redskylite

    I spent my entire life being a break man on the Hell Bound Train.

    Traveling Wilburys – Handle With Care

    Reply
  103. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    redskylite

    I spent my entire life being a break man on the Hell Bound Train

    Paul Butterfield – New Walkin’ Blues

    Reply
  104. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    redskylite

    I spent my entire life being a break man on the Hell Bound Train

    And then came East / West

    The theme song of my life.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  January 31, 2016

      Paul Butterfeild , Mike Bloomfeild, Elvin Bishop. all at once, and forever. For 13:30 minutes .

      When they reach the apex at 7:07 it really flies. .
      It’s everything Bach wrote.

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  January 31, 2016

        They cut this in 1966, it’s 50 years old. most of them are dead. It is pure America. More than anyone else. And not one word is sung. And it’s over 13 mins. long. This why no one remembers it, but me. It reaches out and grabs you by the heart. Then it grabs your loins. And once you hear it , it never let’s go.

        Reply
  105. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    Paul Butterfield – In My Own Dream

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  January 31, 2016

      Paul Vaughn Butterfield (December 17, 1942 – May 4, 1987) was an American blues singer and harmonica player

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  January 31, 2016

        While still recording and performing, Butterfield died in 1987 at age 44 of a heroin overdose.

        Reply
  106. Abel Adamski

     /  January 31, 2016

    And for an interesting article on sea ice
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/imageo/2016/01/30/an-icebreaker-with-no-ice-to-break-in-blue-arctic/#.Vq3gekD6na8

    As the ‘blue Arctic’ expands thanks to global warming, an icebreaker finds no ice to break

    During a recent mission off the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, a Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker encountered unusual winter conditions for an area just 800 miles from the North Pole.

    At this time of year, sea ice usually closes in around Svalbard’s northern and eastern coasts. But not this year. The sturdy 340-foot-long, 6,375-ton KV Svalbard had no ice to break, reports Oddvar Larsen, the ship’s First Engineer.

    I spoke with Larsen and other sailors on board the icebreaker during the kickoff event of the 10th Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø, Norway on Jan. 24, 2016. This is the first post of several I have planned based on reporting I did at the conference. (Please see the note at the end for important details about the reporting that went into this story.)

    Larsen told me that he has observed “big changes” in the Arctic during his nearly 25 years at sea. In addition to shrinking in extent, “most of the ice we encounter now is young — just one year old.”

    In the past, thicker, multi-year ice was dominant, including old ice greater than nine years of age. Today that oldest ice is almost gone.

    Reply
  107. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    “Walkin’ Blues” or “Walking Blues” is a blues standard written and recorded by American Delta blues musician Son House in 1930. Although unissued at the time, it was part of House’s repertoire and other musicians, including Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters adapted the song and recorded their own versions.

    Reply
  108. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    Howlin’ Wolf – The Red Rooster

    Reply
  109. Colorado Bob

     /  January 31, 2016

    Faces – Wicked Messenger

    Reply
  110. Jeremy

     /  January 31, 2016

    Wadhams – Global Warming and Collapse of Civilization

    Reply
    • – Part way through it — at about the 20 min mark he includes a pointed reference to cement’s contribution not just in manufacture but in releasing CO2. With China being the biggest player.
      – Bob has previously brought up cement’s immense power/heat impacts during manufacture.

      Reply
  111. redskylite

     /  January 31, 2016

    Just read this TB Newswatch item, one thing that strikes me immediately is that the waters described in the article (Vermilion Bay, Ontario) lie at 49° 51′ 19″ N, 93° 24′ 8″ W, which is well south of the Arctic Circle (which starts at 66° 33′N). Yet the article states that the waters have warmed by a whopping 2°C over the last 50 years. Highlighting again the problem with global surface temperatures hiding the high latitude big changes.

    ELA research shows climate change impacting lake trout size. . . . .

    http://www.tbnewswatch.com/News/380463/ELA_research_shows_climate_change_impacting_lake_trout_size_

    Reply
  112. – Weather energy is manifesting itself at Scotland et al.
    Anthony Sagliani ‏@anthonywx 5h5 hours ago

    Severe wind event shaping up for Scotland. A phenomenal sea state is expected off shore by Monday evening.

    Reply
  113. Peter Mullinax ‏@wxmvpete 2h2 hours ago

    Now there’s something you don’t see often. Southern CA has several severe t-storm warnings in effect.

    Reply
    • Winds topping 115 mph hit Southern California along with rain, chance of mudslides

      A powerful storm moved into Southern California on Sunday and could bring unusually strong winds of up to 50 mph to Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Possibly damaging gusts well over 60 mph could hit in the mountains and deserts.

      “The winds may well turn out to be the defining feature of this system,” the National Weather Service said Sunday morning.

      By Sunday afternoon, the storm had dropped moderate rain — a little more than one inch in Beverly Hills and less than a half inch in downtown L.A. But the winds were another story. Wind gusts topped 115 mph at Whitaker Peak (located north of Castaic along Interstate 5), 69 in Porter Ranch…
      http://www.latimes.com/local/weather/la-me-ln-powerful-storm-southern-california-sunday-20160131-story.html

      Reply
      • ‘In contrast to typical storms that develop far from California, this one developed unusually close — just 500 miles west of Santa Barbara, said Swain, the Stanford climate scientist, in his blog post on the California Weather Blog.’

        Reply
  114. RGS Weather ‏@RGSweather 2h2 hours ago

    K5 MetOffice buoy close to “eye” of #StormHenry in 24hrs, pressure now bombing at impressive -3.6mb/hr

    Reply
  115. Ryan in New England

     /  February 1, 2016

    60 Minutes is airing a story tonight about Greenland’s melting glaciers, and the climatologists that study them. The piece appears to be focusing on a new study to probe deep into the glacier’s depths in order to better understand the fate of the meltwater that is rushing into the heart of the ice sheet, and what that means for the future of the ice sheet.

    It’s always good to see mainstream media raise awareness of these very important issues.

    Reply
  116. Ryan in New England

     /  February 1, 2016

    European summers are the warmest they’ve been in two millennia…

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/01/29/3744152/european-historic-heat-waves/

    Reply
  117. Abel Adamski

     /  February 1, 2016

    A human catastrophe in the making
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-29/drought-stricken-african-communities-fear-death-before-rain/7124102

    Somalia and Ethiopia are in the grip of a drought not seen since the famine of “biblical proportions” in the mid-1980s. Pastoralists in the Horn of Africa are being forced to change their lives because they cannot stay on the land. That has led to a malnutrition crisis and people have been starving to death.

    In and around this village people live in the mountains and because of the drought we bury at least two people every week. Mostly they are women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
    Abdikadir village chief Ahmed Dahir Alale

    Reply
  118. Andy in SD

     /  February 1, 2016

    Another deep plunge of the jet stream will be helping generate nasty storms Tuesday. Mangled jet stream equals mangled weather.

    https://weather.com/storms/severe/news/severe-weather-forecast-february-1-7-2016

    Reply
  119. – On/off the West Coast of NA — busy weather.

    Reply
    • – CNN California
      Deadly California weather leaves 150,000 without power

      (CNN)Ferocious winds and intense rains pummeled Southern California, leaving one driver dead and more than 150,000 in the dark.

      Massive trees snapped like toothpicks, causing damage from San Diego to north of Los Angeles.

      Reply
      • – CNN California

        Ice dams choke off community

        The intense weather wasn’t limited to Southern California.

        In the northeast part of the state, ice dams formed on the South Fork of the Yuba River, CNN affiliate KCRA reported.

        The frozen blockades — and a recent onslaught of rain — caused a backlog of water, flooding parts of Soda Springs, the affiliate said.

        “We can blame it on El Nino,” Vick Ferrera of the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services told KCRA.
        http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/01/us/california-weather/

        Reply
      • – ‘The frozen blockades’– one observer called it a “mini global warming event”.

        Reply
  120. Tasmania fires: First images of World Heritage Area devastation emerge, show signs of ‘system collapse’

    “Fire ecologist David Bowman said the fires burning in Tasmania were a sign of climate change. “This is bigger than us. This is what climate change looks like, this is what scientists have been telling people, this is system collapse.””

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-30/fire-ravages-world-heritage-area-tasmania-central-plateau/7127300

    Reply
  121. New forecast form the metoffice…

    Reply
  122. Abel Adamski

     /  February 1, 2016

    And to reinforce what this community knows with some research and science
    http://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-why-a-walk-in-the-woods-or-a-dip-in-the-ocean-is-so-great-for-your-health

    This article was written by Jeffrey Craig from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and Susan L. Prescott from the University of Western Australia, and was originally published by The Conversation.

    Have you ever wondered why you feel healthier and happier when you stroll through the trees or frolic by the sea? Is it just that you’re spending time away from work, de-stressing and taking in the view? Or is there more to it? For more than 20 years, scientists have been trying to determine the mechanisms by which exposure to biodiversity improves health.

    Japanese scientists pioneered the search when they travelled to the island of Yakushima, famous for its biodiversity. The Japanese already had a name for the experience of well-being in nature: shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing”.

    We do know that a diverse ecosystem supports a varied and beneficial microbial community living around and inside us. We also know that exposure to green space, even within urban environments, increases our physical and mental well-being. But what are the mechanisms?

    Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  February 1, 2016

      The Murdoch Foundation in this instance has nothing to do with Rupert.
      It is his mother Dame Elizabeth’s hard work and generosity, she was a great philanthropist, a truly genuine and caring person that deserved her gong unlike many others

      Reply
  123. El Niño means glaciers in the Andes are melting at record rates

    “The lower-level glaciers in the Andes, below 5500 metres, are really endangered now and probably only have a couple of decades left,” says Michael Zemp, director of the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland.

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2075093-el-nino-means-glaciers-in-the-andes-are-melting-at-record-rates/

    Reply
  124. ‘If the world ends in 2100, we’re probably OK’ – Two scientists take the long view on climate change.

    http://www.theguardian.com/music/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/jan/29/if-the-world-ends-in-2100-were-probably-ok

    Reply
  125. Andy in SD

     /  February 1, 2016

    Yesterday was interesting. A bit windy, the tree branches were falling sideways.

    Reply
    • Christina in Honolulu

       /  February 1, 2016

      I wonder if there is some type of miscommunication going on regarding Zika. I recently spoke with my friend from Ecuador who said that Zika has been present and commonplace Ecuador for many years, especially along the coast. However, the WHO, and news agencies, seem to be suggesting that Zika is new to the area. Is it possible that it is not Zika, or a changed Zika, that is causing the sudden uptick in microcephaly? Because although the increased birth defects are new, Zika is not. http://www.who.int/csr/don/20-january-2016-zika-guyana-barbados-ecuador/en/

      Reply
      • Abel Adamski

         /  February 2, 2016

        Could Mercury be a contributing issue. ?
        Saw a Danish documentary on one of the small South American countries that is extremely rich in gold, a veritable wild west gold rush has been happening for decades and mercury is being used like water and flushed into the water system and rivers

        Reply
      • There’s no documented evidence that Zika was widespread in Ecuador prior to the current outbreak. You can’t really list ‘my friend said’ as valid evidence without some kind of support. So allegations that Zika was widespread in Ecuador prior to the current outbreak could best be described as an unverified and unlikely to be accurate rumor. WHO knows what it’s doing here and ID of Zika as a potential global risk and likely source of microcephaly did not occur at a whim or the drop of a hat. In other words, disease response personnel — some of the best experts in the world — are noting an unprecedented outbreak in Ecuador and are very concerned.

        Reply
      • Christina in Honolulu

         /  February 2, 2016

        I agree that the ID of Zika as a potential global risk did not occur on a whim. I am merely questioning the following:
        1. Zika isn’t new. Prior to 2015 Zika was in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands, however upticks in microcephaly were not found in those areas.
        2. According to the CDC, “Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries.” However upticks in microcephaly are not occurring in many countries.
        3. Anecdotal evidence can be helpful, although I agree not conclusive. If residents of Ecuador were previously aware of Zika virus as a common threat in coastal areas, yet microcephaly was not a common outcome of the disease there, that does give rise to the question is the “Zika” in Brazil, the same Zika?

        I am merely questioning the immediate response that it is clearly Zika that is causing this, because Zika has not done so in the past.

        http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html

        Reply
        • 1. Prior to 2015, this did not include Ecuador.
          2. Zika was not widespread (a disease that existed outside of Africa, isolated Pacific Islands, or isolated parts of Asia) prior to 2015 (possibly 2013 when more Pacific Islands became invovled, but the most recent outbreak is the largest) and, according to WHO and CDC, rarely occurred in humans prior to 2007.
          3. Due to the fact that Zika was not widespread prior to these times, instances of microcephaly and other instances of neurological damage (Barre etc) were not at levels high enough to suspect association with the virus.
          4. Inaccurate anecdotal rumors are not helpful.

          According to WHO the first substantial outbreak occurred in 2007. According to WHO, prior instances were ‘sporadic’ and isolated to small regions in Africa and Southeast Asia (French Polynesia).

          From WHO:

          “Zika virus was discovered in 1947, but for many years only sporadic human cases were detected in Africa and Southern Asia. In 2007, the first documented outbreak of Zika virus disease occurred in the Pacific.

          http://www.who.int/features/qa/zika/en/

          I could, possibly, understand how you might confuse the term ‘sporadic cases’ and ‘first documented outbreak.’

          So I’d like to go ahead and refer you to this 2014 report (published before the current, more widespread outbreak) from the CDC that states:

          From its discovery until 2007, confirmed cases of Zika virus infection from Africa and Southeast Asia were rare. In 2007, however, a major epidemic occurred in Yap Island, Micronesia. More recently, epidemics have occurred in Polynesia, Easter Island, the Cook Islands and New Caledonia.”

          Please see:

          http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/20/6/et-2006_article

          But if you are still confused, I urge you to read this statement from Reuters:

          The WHO says that because no big Zika outbreaks were recorded before 2007, little is known about complications caused by infection. Long-term health consequences remain unclear. It is uncertain whether in pregnant women the virus crosses the placenta and causes microcephaly. During an outbreak of Zika from 2013-2014 in French Polynesia, national health authorities reported an unusual increase in Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system. Health authorities in Brazil have also reported an increase in Guillain-Barre syndrome. Other uncertainties surround the incubation period of the virus and how Zika interacts with other viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes such as dengue.”

          Please see:

          http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-zika-facts-factbox-idUSKCN0V62S6

      • Abel, we have a lot of badly contamined with mercury places in Brasil (specially in the Amazon, because illegal gold mining is harder to combat there, but Minas Gerais is also riddled with that problem), but Recife, where the epidemics was first noticed, isn’t one of them. The way that the cases have spread, also, doesn’t fit with toxin or pollutants causes, but resembles the epidemiology of a biological pathogen, probably a virus. That’s one of the reasons why Zika virus is being implied as the cause of this epidemic.

        Reply
  126. Greg

     /  February 1, 2016

    According to a report released last week by IRENA in Abu Dhabi, merely doubling the amount of clean energy by 2030 from 2010 levels — an increase well short of the increase modeled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) for 2040 — lifts global GDP by $1.3 trillion…That includes millions of additional jobs compared to the business-as-usual case….Pulling the world back from the brink of catastrophic climate change cannot be done for free. Changing the way the world is powered means big spending — and huge investment opportunities — as new clean energy infrastructure is built across the world….there is enough money at play in the world’s financial markets to finance the transition… (BNEF) shows that we are already on track to spend $6.9 trillion over the next 25 years on new renewable electric power generation…BNEF’s modeling suggests power sector investment will need to rise by an additional 75 percent, to $12.1 trillion, over the next quarter-century.To put it in perspective, the average amount the entire world needs to invest in clean electric power annually to hit the 2-degree target is only 7 percent more than American citizens invest in car loans each year….G20 countries still subsidize fossil fuels far more than they support clean energy — to the tune of $450 billion annually. These subsidies are perverse; they are using public funds to create a problem the world has agreed to fix in Paris.

    http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/How-to-Finance-a-Trillion-Dollar-Climate-Change-Opportunity

    Reply
  127. Greg

     /  February 1, 2016

    What does increasing power consumption, improving lives and doing so using renewable energy look like outside the so-called developed world? The Rwandan government has partnered with Ignite Power to provide rooftop solar to 250,000 households by 2018. Rwanda has a goal of bringing electricity to 70 percent of households by 2018, an increase from about 20 percent in 2014. A key to advancing Rwanda’s energy infrastructure is moving away from biomass — particularly wood — which still accounts for more than 80 percent of energy generation in the country. Customers will pay on average about $5 per month for a rent-to-own model in which they will get a solar system that can power some lights, a radio and a television, and cell phones. Cell phones, in particular, are revolutionizing agricultural business, healthcare and education for rural Africa.
    http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/ignite-power-will-bring-solar-to-250000-homes-in-rwanda-by-2018

    Reply
  128. Jeremy

     /  February 1, 2016

    “The US Department of Energy’s plan to generate 20 percent of the nation’s electrical power from wind by 2030 is ambitious, to say the least. To pull it off, the turbines will need to be located offshore, where winds are steadier and stronger. However, putting wind turbines in the ocean is also far more expensive, so they need to be enormous in order to make it worthwhile. Researchers from Sandia National Laboraties have come up with a design that features 650-foot blades — over two football fields long — that can generate up to 50 megawatts of power.”

    http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/29/giant-folding-wind-turbines/

    Reply
  129. Jeremy

     /  February 1, 2016

    “The first images to emerge from within Tasmania’s fire-affected World Heritage Area (WHA) have illustrated the level of destruction caused by bushfire, as experts warn such incidents are signs of a changing climate.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-30/fire-ravages-world-heritage-area-tasmania-central-plateau/7127300

    Reply
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  131. Reply
  132. Jeremy

     /  February 1, 2016

    “Our analysis suggests that even in the absence of human perturbations no substantial build-up of ice sheets would occur within the next several thousand years and that the current interglacial would probably last for another 50,000 years. However, moderate anthropogenic cumulative CO2 emissions of 1,000 to 1,500 gigatonnes of carbon will postpone the next glacial inception by at least 100,000 years”

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v529/n7585/full/nature16494.html#close

    Reply
  133. redskylite

     /  February 1, 2016

    WHO Statement on the first meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR 2005) Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations

    WHO statement
    1 February 2016

    The first meeting of the Emergency Committee (EC) convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR 2005) regarding clusters of microcephaly cases and other neurologic disorders in some areas affected by Zika virus was held by teleconference on 1 February 2016, from 13:10 to 16:55 Central European Time.

    Travel measures

    There should be no restrictions on travel or trade with countries, areas and/or territories with Zika virus transmission.
    Travellers to areas with Zika virus transmission should be provided with up to date advice on potential risks and appropriate measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to mosquito bites.
    Standard WHO recommendations regarding disinsection of aircraft and airports should be implemented.

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2016/1st-emergency-committee-zika/en/

    Reply
  134. NWS Alaska Region ‏@NWSAlaska 19m19 minutes ago

    Barrow: January 2016 second warmest in 97 years; average temperature -0.3F, 13 degrees above normal. Only January 1930 was warmer

    Reply
    • NWS Fairbanks ‏@NWSFairbanks 2m2 minutes ago

      Only 1.9 inches of snow has fallen in Fairbanks since 12/1 making for the least snowy Dec-Jan period on record.

      Reply
  135. Ryan in New England

     /  February 1, 2016

    Mid 60s(F) today in CT, on the 1st of February! The local TV news anchors are commenting on “how fantastic it is to wear shorts in the middle of Winter”. Yeah, a sign of devastating changes upon us, that’s real freakin’ great.

    Reply
    • – Yeah, it’s amazing — the amount of disconnect just to put a happy face on calamity. I see the same type of thing on corporate TV all the time — total disconnect through positive spin.
      It can be unnerving.

      Reply
    • You should complain to the news station.

      Reply
      • Ryan in New England

         /  February 2, 2016

        Dt, that’s a great idea! Thank you, I had not thought of that. I’m contacting them right after I finish typing this comment.

        Reply
  136. Only 3 percent of juvenile salmon survived California drought in 2015

    Only 3 percent of the juveniles of an endangered salmon species survived the drought along the Sacramento River in 2015 despite extraordinary efforts by federal and state officials to save them, federal officials said Monday.

    It marked the second straight year that the vast majority of juvenile winter-run Chinook salmon were cooked to death on the Sacramento, according to data released by the National Marine Fisheries Service. In 2014, only 5 percent of the juveniles survived.

    http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article57713633.html

    Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  February 2, 2016

      Those are horrific numbers. Likely another species that will soon join the growing list of others we’ve doomed to extinction.

      Reply
  137. – Wide view:

    Anthony Sagliani ‏@anthonywx 5h5 hours ago

    #StormHenry causing sea state 9 conditions in North Atlantic. Significant wave heights at buoy peaked at 48.2 feet.

    Reply
  138. – And in the Pacific energy in motion and not to be denied– A thing of beauty:
    NWS OPC ‏@NWSOPC 3h3 hours ago

    Amazing view of our latest #Pacific #hurricane force low. OPC 24-hr forecast calls for 70 kt winds & seas to 51 ft!

    Reply
  139. redskylite

     /  February 2, 2016

    What will life be like for Brazil’s generation of Zika babies?

    Microcephaly – babies born with brain damage and abnormally small heads – has jumped 20-fold in Brazil since the Zika virus arrived there. We don’t yet know how this condition will affect the lives of these babies, but early case studies suggest they could have serious brain damage.

    Microcephaly is a poorly understood congenital condition in which babies are born with an unusually small head. It is associated with a range of causes, including having a malnourished mother or a genetic condition like Down’s syndrome. Some children born with the condition aren’t neurologically impaired, while others can have severe brain damage.

    Since October, roughly 4000 babies with microcephaly have been born in Brazil, and it is strongly suspected that Zika infections during pregnancy are to blame. But what isn’t yet known is how it will affect the children’s development.

    “They may not be able to recognise their parents or perceive pain, and will need constant attention because they wouldn’t be able to indicate when they need food or drink,” says Geoff Woods, a clinical geneticist at the University of Cambridge, who has seen brain scans and early case reports from Brazil.

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2075925-what-will-life-be-like-for-brazils-generation-of-zika-babies/

    Reply
  140. redskylite

     /  February 2, 2016

    Can We Stop Mosquitoes From Infecting the World?

    Somewhere beneath the mounds of snow covering Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill district, just steps from the Library of Congress, a cluster of tropical mosquitoes capable of carrying Zika and other viruses is holed up, waiting for spring.

    Washington, D.C. is well beyond the comfort zone for these mosquitoes—this species can’t survive winters north of Alabama and South Carolina. But this colony has somehow hung on for four years, genetic evidence shows, making it the northernmost permanent outpost for the disease-transmitters Aedes aegypti known to date.

    This particular colony is small, virus-free, and poses no health threat, say the scientists who’ve been monitoring it. But its existence shows the species is adapting to cold climates and conquering new territory: another sign of the growing threat that insect-borne diseases pose in a rapidly changing world.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/02/160201-mosquito-zika-virus-climate/

    Reply
  141. Griffin

     /  February 2, 2016

    The Metoffice outlook for the next five years. Remarkably similar to this year. Which is to say, not good!
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/seasonal-to-decadal/long-range/decadal-fc

    Reply
  142. Colorado Bob

     /  February 2, 2016

    todaysguestis / February 1, 2016

    Tasmania fires: First images of World Heritage Area devastation emerge, show signs of ‘system collapse’

    “Fire ecologist David Bowman said the fires burning in Tasmania were a sign of climate change. “This is bigger than us. This is what climate change looks like, this is what scientists have been telling people, this is system collapse.””

    Drought’s harm to forests more severe than feared, study finds

    Worsening drought conditions may be doing more damage to forests in California and throughout the West than their ecosystems can handle, causing a spiral of death that could have a devastating impact, a U.S. Forest Service study concluded Monday.

    The 300-page report, “Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States,” outlines how hotter, drier and more extreme weather will spark massive insect outbreaks, tree and plant die-offs, bigger and more costly wildfires, and economic impacts to timber and rangeland habitat.
    http://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Study-Drought-could-worsen-fires-feed-insects-6799378.php

    Reply
  143. – Dahr Jamail has good article in Truthout 0201;

    – He makes good use of the term ‘anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD)’.
    The piece is a good rundown of much of what has been posted at RS with lots necessary context.

    – Ps A number of weeks ago Dahr, at the end of a (I think, Radio Ecoshock) interview, mentioned robertscribbler as a a excellent source of climate related info. Rs was the only link he mentioned.

    ‘Freak Storms and Butterfly Die-Offs: This Is Your Climate on Fossil Fuels ‘

    Earth

    In parts of California, so much groundwater has been pumped from the earth that the land is literally sinking, an issue that is now costing that state billions of dollars as it struggles to repair damaged infrastructure.

    Large die-offs of birds, whales, antelope and other animals across the globe are now being attributed, in large part, to ACD.

    In the UK, the Butterfly Conservation charity recently released a study showing that three-quarters of the UK’s butterfly species have declined in just the past 40 years. Along with habitat destruction and the increased use of pesticides, ACD was named as one of the primary culprits.

    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34631-freak-storms-and-massive-animal-die-offs-this-is-your-climate-on-fossil-fuels

    Reply
    • ‘Freak Storms and Butterfly Die-Offs…’

      Increasing planetary temperatures are now heating up all of the oceans – much faster than we previously thought. In fact, a recent study shows that the deep ocean has warmed as much in the last 20 years as it had during the previous 100 years combined.

      I’m unsure whether to classify this as denial or reality, but it also came to light recently that aircraft pollution was not included in the Paris climate deal. The head of the European Union climate program stated the obvious, saying that the omission could cause “a very big problem.” Aviation and shipping amount to 5 percent of total global carbon emissions.
      [You that one caught my eye.]

      Reply
  144. I had to pass on this stop action photo included in one of Dahr’s links:

    AFP/Getty Images

    Spectators gather to watch waves stirred up by typhoon Soudelor in Wenling, China on Aug. 8. The storm was one of countless extreme weather events of 2015.

    Reply
    • – I must quibble with this photo in the Independent link on UK butterflies in Dahr’s piece.
      This is a male Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) though it is titled a Tiger butterfly.
      The wide spot on the vein of its wing about at about 5 o’ clock is a pheromone ‘pouch’.
      It’s an amazing sight to see a male butterfly flit about over a female as he showers her with ‘love’ scent. And it does initiate the mating and reproductive process.

      – A Large Tiger butterfly sits on a leaf at London’s Natural History Museum Carl Court/Getty Images

      Reply
  145. Greg

     /  February 2, 2016

    One more horrible twist to Zika outbreak. “Another worrying unknown is a scenario of extreme disability where babies are born not only with microcephaly, the condition of the small brain, but also with damage to the nervous system with the result that the limbs cannot be controlled.

    This is known as arthrogryposis, and pictures of babies born with it show distorted arms and legs, and X-rays reveal a lack of connection in the joints. The babies can only survive in intensive care.

    Dr Vanessa Van der Linden and colleagues, who are preparing a paper on the condition, say six cases have now emerged in Recife and that it is “highly probable” that Zika is to blame.

    She said: “The problem with these babies is in the spine. The motor neurones that makes the muscle move have a problem so these babies have some muscles without function.”
    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35462337

    Reply
  146. Colorado Bob

     /  February 2, 2016

    Greenland

    Sharyn Alfonsi reports from the top of the world on one of the most significant efforts to study climate change happening today

    http://www.cbsnews.com/common/video/cbsnews_video.swfView More: Live News|More News Videos.cbs-link {color:#4B5054;text-decoration:none; font: normal 12px Arial;}.cbs-link:hover {color:#A7COFF;text-decoration:none; font: normal 12px Arial;}.cbs-pipe {color:#303435;padding: 0 2px;}.cbs-resources {height:24px; background-color:#000; padding: 0 0 0 8px; width: 612px;}.cbs-more {font: normal 12px Arial; color: #4B5054; padding-right:2px;}

    Reply
  147. Colorado Bob

     /  February 2, 2016

    Greenland

    Sharyn Alfonsi reports from the top of the world on one of the most significant efforts to study climate change happening today

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/greenland-60-minutes-climate-change/

    Reply
  148. Colorado Bob

     /  February 2, 2016

    As the ‘blue Arctic’ expands thanks to global warming, an icebreaker finds no ice to break

    During a recent mission off the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, a Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker encountered unusual winter conditions for an area just 800 miles from the North Pole.

    At this time of year, sea ice usually closes in around Svalbard’s northern and eastern coasts. But not this year. The sturdy 340-foot-long, 6,375-ton KV Svalbard had no ice to break, reports Oddvar Larsen, the ship’s First Engineer.

    I spoke with Larsen and other sailors on board the icebreaker during the kickoff event of the 10th Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø, Norway on Jan. 24, 2016. This is the first post of several I have planned based on reporting I did at the conference.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/imageo/2016/01/30/an-icebreaker-with-no-ice-to-break-in-blue-arctic/#.VrCMP1K7T6M

    Reply
  149. Abel Adamski

     /  February 2, 2016

    An interesting one, also observed in Greenland near Jacobsven
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL062446/abstract

    Climate-driven vertical acceleration of Icelandic crust measured by continuous GPS geodesy

    Abstract

    Earth’s present-day response to enhanced glacial melting resulting from climate change can be measured using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. We present data from 62 continuously operating GPS instruments in Iceland. Statistically significant upward velocity and accelerations are recorded at 27 GPS stations, predominantly located in the Central Highlands region of Iceland, where present-day thinning of the Iceland ice caps results in velocities of more than 30 mm/yr and uplift accelerations of 1–2 mm/yr2. We use our acceleration estimates to back calculate to a time of zero velocity, which coincides with the initiation of ice loss in Iceland from ice mass balance calculations and Arctic warming trends. We show, through a simple inversion, a direct relationship between ice mass balance measurements and vertical position and show that accelerated unloading is required to reproduce uplift observations for a simple elastic layer over viscoelastic half-space model.

    Reply
  150. Abel Adamski

     /  February 2, 2016

    http://phys.org/news/2016-02-volcanic-eruptions-ice-age-caps.html

    Increase in volcanic eruptions at the end of the ice age caused by melting ice caps and erosion
    February 1, 2016
    The combination of erosion and melting ice caps led to a massive increase in volcanic activity at the end of the last ice age, according to new research. As the climate warmed, the ice caps melted, decreasing the pressure on the Earth’s mantle, leading to an increase in both magma production and volcanic eruptions. The researchers, led by the University of Cambridge, have found that erosion also played a major role in the process, and may have contributed to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

    Reply
  151. Abel Adamski

     /  February 2, 2016

    http://phys.org/news/2016-02-long-term-global-driven-naturally.html
    Long-term global warming not driven naturally
    February 1, 2016

    By examining how Earth cools itself back down after a period of natural warming, a study by scientists at Duke University and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirms that global temperature does not rise or fall chaotically in the long run. Unless pushed by outside forces, temperature should remain stable.

    The new evidence may finally help put the chill on skeptics’ belief that long-term global warming occurs in an unpredictable manner, independently of external drivers such as human impacts.

    Reply
  152. Abel Adamski

     /  February 2, 2016

    And one RS has covered before with new research
    https://cosmosmagazine.com/earth-sciences/humidity-could-be-killer-climate-change

    In January 2015, thermometers in Marble Bar, Western Australia, touched 50 °C – a single degree shy of the national record. But it’s extreme humidity records we should be taking more notice of, a wave of new research suggests.

    As the climate changes, deadly heatwaves that combine high temperatures with humidity so severe that the human body can no longer cool itself, could start to affect regions of the world currently home to hundreds of millions of people. That’s the conclusion reached by Columbia University’s Ethan Coffel, reported at an American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco in December.

    Reply
    • Here’s a paper that models methane release, and does heat index (combination of heat and humidity) calculations for the End Permian mass extinction:

      https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Christine_Shields/publication/253529135_Modeling_the_response_to_changes_in_tropospheric_methane_concentration_Application_to_the_Permian-Triassic_boundary/links/02e7e53a0d4cec73f0000000.pdf

      Check out page 12. The figures only show the average annual heat index, when really most of the dying would happen during extreme events. I think they also use CO2 levels of 10x ancestral concentrations (3550 ppm). So these are extreme conditions. But the figures seem to indicate that at ten times ancestral methane concentration of 700 ppb (equal to 7 ppm), parts of the tropics are becoming uninhabitable. We’re at about 2.5 times ancestral methane now, and 400 ppm CO2. At 100x atmospheric methane concentations (70 ppm), most of the tropics look uninhabitable because of these combined heat and humidity events. At 1000x ancestral methane concentrations most of the globe looks uninhabitable due to combined heat and humidity effects alone, not counting things like hydrogen sulfide poisoning.

      A better reference for us would use near term projected CO2 and methane concentrations and calculate the probability of extreme heat index events for our own near future.

      Reply
      • More recent studies indicate the Permian topped out at around 1,000 ppm CO2. The range for potential equivalent harm in the paleoclimate studies is enough to indicate a very high risk of setting off similar conditions to the Permian under business as usual fossil fuel emissions through 2100. An accumulation of greenhouse gasses of this scale within just 220 years since 1880 has never happened before in Earth’s history. Not even during tge Permian. And we should be doing everything we can to avoid it. In fact we should be doing everything we can to halt fossil fuel emissions now.

        Reply
  153. Abel Adamski

     /  February 2, 2016

    C.B and D.T
    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/soil-productivity-cut-by-climate-change-making-societies-more-marginal-studies-20160128-gmfykc.html

    The health of the world’s soils hinges on the abundance and diversity of the microbes and fungi they contain, and environmental changes including from global warming will undermine their ability to support humans and other species, according to two new studies.

    While animal and plant diversity has long been understood to be important, the multiple roles of soils – from the decomposition of organic matter to nutrient cycling and carbon fixing – have been less researched.

    One of the studies, published in Nature Communications on Thursday, examined microbial diversity in 78 drylands on all inhabited continents and 179 sites in Scotland. It found that the loss of varieties – such as from climate change increasing arid zones – undermined the services the soils provided.

    Reply
  154. Abel Adamski

     /  February 2, 2016

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2075571-decades-long-heatwaves-may-hit-europe-as-climate-change-bites/

    Buckle up. Europe is in for a bumpy ride as climate change gathers pace. The continent could in future swing between climate extremes, including bursts of super-heatwaves that last for decades, according to an analysis of temperature data from the past 2000 years.

    The latest study shows that Europe has also experienced centuries of particularly warm summers. Some summers during Roman times were warm enough for grapes to be grown in northern England, while the 1st, 2nd, 8th and 10th centuries AD all had similar mean summer temperatures to that of the 20th century – which is 1.3ºC above longer-term averages.

    That may seem reassuring in relation to our current record-breaking temperatures, but these are century-long averages. Take a close look, and the study also shows that, across two millennia, there wasn’t a single 30-year period where summer temperatures exceeded those seen in Europe since 1986.

    What causes Europe’s large climate variability is uncertain. Candidates include volcanic eruptions, changes in solar radiation and the influence of ocean currents like the Gulf Stream.

    Journal reference: Environmental Research Letters, DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/11/2/024001

    Reply
  155. Kevin Jones

     /  February 2, 2016

    Annual CO2 mean growth rate at Mauna Loa for 2015: 3.17 ppm CO2. Highest on record. According to NOAA ESRL

    Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  February 2, 2016

      And as RS has pointed out previously, Methane is on the up and up also.
      Feedbacks are kicking in, lets hope for some negative feedbacks to fire up as well

      Reply
  156. Greg

     /  February 2, 2016

    A interesting comparison of hybrid cars in a conventional review but with climate change as a context. “The color of apple juice, it has the hydrocarbon content of 98 tons of buried prehistoric plant matter. It’ll ping your credit card for about $3 at our local Southern California prices. And after being combusted in a car engine, two of its 20 pounds of exhausted CO2 will still be inhaled by your descendants—1,500 generations from now.”
    http://www.motortrend.com/news/2016-chevrolet-volt-toyota-prius-best-way-to-use-gallon-of-gas/

    Reply
  157. redskylite

     /  February 2, 2016

    Al Jazeera (2-Feb-2016) – Calling for global cooperation in the fight against the Zika virus outbreak and -(strongly) possible links to birth defects . . .

    Zika emergency pushes case for global cooperation

    Countries now required to work together to understand birth defects in Brazil and suspected Zika virus.

    The last time the WHO declared a global health emergency, in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa which killed more than 11,300 people, it was harshly criticised for being slow and ineffective, resulting in delays that may have cost thousands of lives.

    Since then the WHO has made changes that, it says, make it more responsive in emergency situations, but this will be tested in its handling of the situation in Brazil and the wider Americas over the coming months.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/02/zika-emergency-force-countries-cooperate-160202122352680.html

    Reply
  158. CDC reports first case of sexually-transmitted Zika virus in U.S. in Dallas, TX

    “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a patient was infected in Dallas County, health officials in Texas said.
    A patient was apparently infected after having sexual contact with someone who returned from a country where the disease is present.
    …This would be the first known infection to take place in the US.
    …”Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others,” said Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, in a news release.
    “Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually-transmitted infections.”
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35478778

    This ups the ante a lot. Now pregnant women have to worry about having sex with someone who went to a country where Zika is present–since (upon his return) if he was bitten and infected (but asymptomatic), he could now infect you directly. No longer do you have to be the one bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus.

    Reply
  159. Colorado Bob

     /  February 2, 2016

    The Town That Coal Built Faces a Cloudy Future in Global Energy Shift

    Yet Colstrip, population 2,300, faces a cloudy future. While many coal towns have struggled for years, its story shows how far the industry’s tumult has spread beyond the hollows of Appalachia. The United States has steadily cut its use of coal, and it reported last week that coal-fired power plants produced a record monthly low of 29 percent of U.S. electricity in November, down from 39 percent for all of 2014.
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/energy/2016/01/160202-town-that-coal-built-faces-cloudy-future-as-global-energy-shifts/?google_editors_picks=true

    Reply
    • They need to put these guys to work building and maintaining wind and solar farms.

      For just about everyone and everything, though, the cut in coal use is decent news. We need to keep cutting. But it’s an OK start.

      Reply
    • That is just absolutely ridiculous. We’ve got another week of heavy rain setting up for the US Southeast. Looks like we are back to a spring time weather pattern. My recent visit to family in Virgina Beach this past weekend for my grandmother’s 93rd birthday came with two days of 70 degree temperatures. It’s nuts. They don’t even have to cover palm trees down there during Winter anymore.

      Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  February 2, 2016

      
      Record rains strain canals and Lake Okeechobee
      Palm Beach Post

      Water managers struggled this past week to keep up with record-setting rainfall, and were eventually forced to back pump polluted water into environmentally sensitive Lake Okeechobee to prevent flooding in the Glades.

      More than 5 inches of rain fell during two days in West Palm Beach and as much as 6 inches inundated some western communities. By the end of the deluge Thursday, this past month was deemed the wettest January since recordkeeping began in 1932.
      http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/weather/polluted-water-back-pumped-into-lake-o-as-record-r/nqGxL/

      Reply
  160. Colorado Bob

     /  February 2, 2016

    Global warming means exotic fruits now being grown in Britain

    An agricultural revolution has been quietly gaining momentum in the fields of southern England with climate change meaning apricots, peaches and all manner of exotic crops are springing up in a way unimaginable just a generation ago.

    Britain’s first ever crop of sweet, seedless “table” grapes will hit Asda’s shelves this autumn, as global warming adds another exotic fruit to the nation’s tables. It’s the latest in a growing list of now regular crops that also includes tea, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, water melons and walnuts.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/global-warming-means-exotic-fruits-now-being-grown-in-britain-a6842676.html

    Reply
  161. Colorado Bob

     /  February 3, 2016

    Abel Adamski –

    Nice job of linking the 2 papers on Icelandic rebound , and the massive increase in volcanic activity at the end of the last ice age,

    Watching all that weight being unloaded in Iceland , is like taking the “safety” off a loaded gun . Iceland may be small , but on the global stage , it gets some very big parts in the play. And they are all rather nasty characters. with very bad breath.

    Zika –

    Another item I noted. The thinking is it came to Brazil in 2014 with the World Cup. If this turns out to be true, it’s arrival in South America means it mutated very quickly. Remember viruses can swap genetic material like cooks swap recipes. Because since it was first originally found, these birth defects weren’t seen .

    Climate Change connection –

    Type of Mosquito that Carries Zika Virus Found in Washington, DC

    A few years back, a friend asked Andrew Lima for help fighting the mosquitoes constantly biting him at his apartment in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

    What Lima found shocked him.

    “Upon going in his place and seeing the first mosquito that I saw, I … found it was the Aedes aegypti mosquito,” said the mosquito biologist of his 2011 visit.

    http://www.voanews.com/content/mosquito-zika-virus-washington-dc-united-states/3173882.html

    Reply
  1. Zika Vírus e a Nova Distopia do Clima – O Efeito de Estufa Humano como Multiplicador de Doenças | Alterações Climáticas
  2. Zika Vírus e a Nova Distopia do Clima – O Efeito de Estufa Humano como Multiplicador de Doenças | Aquecimento Global Descontrolado
  3. Climate, disease, and Human Population Control | GarryRogers Nature Conservation
  4. Ecosocialist resources, February 2016
  5. Zika Virus: What you need to know – Raza MQ
  6. The Environment This Month - February 2016 - Author K. Williams

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