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Australia’s Hot Ocean Blob Fuels Record Heat, Extreme Weather, Risk to Coral Reefs

Between Australia and New Zealand there’s a kind of climate change fed thing on the prowl in the off-shore waters. It takes the form of an angry layer of far warmer than normal surface water. And it’s been lurking around since late November.

(A hot, angry blob of much warmer than normal ocean temperatures has erupted between Australia and New Zealand.)

We can see this disruptive beast pretty clearly in the sea surface temperature anomaly maps provided by Earth Nullschool. Today’s readings show temperatures in this new blob hitting between 3.5 and 4.2 degrees Celsius above average across a broad expanse of ocean.

That’s much, much warmer than normal for this region of water. A place where 2 degree above average sea surface readings would tend to be unusual. But with global temperatures now hitting between 1.1 and 1.2 C above 1880s averages, we’re starting to see the climate dice more loaded for these kinds of extreme events. To be clear, this is not the kind of extremity we’d experience in a world at 2 C warming, or 4 C warming, or 7 C warming. But we’ve moved up the scale and weather, temperature, and ocean environmental conditions are being harmfully impacted.

(The above graph shows how temperatures have shifted outside of 20th Century ranges. During 2014-2017, the world dramatically warmed — generating further rightward movement in the bell curve. Temperature has an impact on everything from drought, to the severity of thunderstorms, to the length and intensity of fire season, to the fuel available for the most powerful hurricanes, to algae blooms, to coral bleaching events. Image source: NASA GISS.)

Back on November 30th, the blob contributed to an extreme rainfall event impacting Southeast Australia. One that dumped upwards of 10 inches or more in a rather short period. Since that time, South Australia has been seeing continued instances of extreme weather. Over recent days, towering supercell storms rocked Victoria with lightning, flash floods, damaging winds, and golf-ball sized hail. In Melbourne, a flood washed away a 40 foot section of a foot path. Meanwhile western parts of Sydney Australia were sweltering under record-shattering heat — with temperatures hitting a never before seen high of 111 F (44 C) on Tuesday, December 19th. Other regions experienced over 113 F (45 C) temperatures.

(Hot ocean blob feeds record breaking heat across Australia on Tuesday. Image source: WindyTV.)

The off shore hot blob is laying its hot, moist tendrils of influence on these weather extremes in a number of ways. First the blob is belching an enormous amount of moisture into the atmosphere above the local ocean. This moisture is being cycled over SE Australia by the prevailing winds and is adding convective energy to thunderstorms. In addition, the blob is also contributing to a sprawling ridge of high pressure that sits squarely over top it. The ridge, in turn, is baking parts of Australia with record hot temperatures.

Hot ocean blobs like the thing off Australia are a feature of human-caused climate change in that ocean and atmospheric warming generates an environment in which these pools of excessive warmth are more likely to form. These are anomalous events that stretch or break the boundaries of past weather and climate patterns by adding unusual amounts of heat and moisture to local and region climate systems in the environments in which they form. A hot blob forming off the U.S. West Coast during 2014-2015 contributed to a number of climate change associated events like the severe California Drought, a ridiculously resilient ridge of high pressure, western wildfires, intense rains into Alaska and Canada and a number of mortality events among sea life that were triggered by heat, low oxygen content, or blooms of harmful microbes that thrive in warmer ocean environments.

Though short-lived in comparison to the Hot Blob that lurked off the U.S. West Coast for the better part of two years, the Australia-New Zealand blob is already having a variety of atmospheric and oceanic impacts. Notably, in addition to the wrenching influences on local and regional weather described above, the blob is also contributing to risks to Australia’s corals.

(NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch shows strong risk of coral stress continuing through March of 2018. The hot blob of ocean water off Australia is contributing to a situation where reefs like the GBR are again at risk. Image source: NOAA.)

Over the past two years, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) experienced back to back bleaching events. These were the worst ever seen by the reef. And they were triggered by human-caused climate change. This year, in part due to the blob, risks to corals between Australia and New Zealand are again high. If the blob shifts north and west, then the GBR again falls under the gun. This time for a third year in a row. Notably coral reef stress warnings and alerts abound throughout the zone between Australia and New Zealand in NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch report at present.

Due to the potential to continue to contribute to various weather and ocean impacts, the present climate change influenced hot blob between Australia and New Zealand bears continued monitoring. It has, however, already generated a number of impacts. And it is likely that more will follow.

CREDITS:

Hat tip to Carolyn Copeland

Hat tip to Guy Walton

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104 Comments

  1. Keith Antonysen

     /  December 21, 2017

    “Scientific monitoring since 1944 by CSIRO at Maria Island, off the east coast of Tasmania, showed that surface water temperatures in the Tasman Sea have risen by nearly 2C over the past 60 years. This warming, one of the most rapid in the southern hemisphere oceans, is due to globally increasing sea-surface temperatures and local effects caused by southward extension of the East Australian Current.

    from:

    http://www.media.utas.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/118112/banded-morwong-media-release-April-2011.pdf

    Some fish species have moved South, and are now found off the East Coast of Tasmania due to the warming waters.

    Reply
  2. Glen Kelleher

     /  December 21, 2017

    Hi Robert. Great to see you covering an Aussie event.

    The site you refer to in Sydney is Penrith I think. It actually broke its all time December high twice this month.

    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/data/index.shtml?bookmark=200

    This site allows you to download data for any weather station in Australia. Penrith shows a rate of warming of about 0.3C/decade which is about twice the global rate (unfortunately though there are only 23 years of data). Locations in southeastern Australia away from the narrow coastal strip show greater rates of warming over a 30 year period of about 0.4C/decade with Spring warming at about 0.6C/decade. Very coastal locations (<10 km from water) have lower rates of warming due to moderating effects of sea breezes. On the day that Penrith hit 44C, coastal gauges only got to about 34-35C. This demonstrates both the variability between ocean and land warming and local geographic effects.

    Anywhere in the southern half of Australia during summer (and increasingly spring), you get oven like conditions once the wind blows towards you from the interior of the country. The only blessing is that it is not normally accompanied by high humidity because it is coming from an arid source.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the specifics here, Glen. Will update in a few mins.

      Also, the general testimony is very much appreciated. Not a local, so this is really helpful.

      –R

      Reply
    • So it’s worth noting that though the ocean has a local moderating effect on the coastline as well as a moderating impact on the land mass overall, relative warming values over ocean surfaces has a large impact on peak potential temperature intensity. Interaction with the atmosphere in developing preferences for ridging is also a factor.

      Reply
      • Glen Kelleher

         /  December 22, 2017

        No worries its a pleasure to be able to correspond about this stuff with knowledgeable folk. I have been looking at synoptic charts and the weather since I was 11 years old and i was put in charge of recording rainfall on our farm in rural NSW.

        To understand the effect of the ridge, have a look at the shape of it on Sunday morning 24th Dec. With the wind blowing anticlockwise around the high ridge, you can see that it is drawing hot air from the interior into locations to the north of the trough which is pretty much bisecting southeastern Australia:

        http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/charts/4day_col.shtml

        Forecast for that day just to the north of the trough is for temps around 36-38 C, so not quite as extreme as the other day, but still pretty warm.

        This is a typical late spring/early summer pattern which is becoming increasingly dangerous due to background warming. (Perhaps a bit like the Santa Ana winds but in another season.)

        Reply
        • Interesting. Thanks for this.

          December in Australia is basically like June in the NH for those lurking.

          I’m a bit concerned about the overall heat trend. It’s not just the blob, but both the SST measures and the models through March are showing warmer than normal waters surrounding Australia. Would tend to keep nudging those synoptics you mention.

        • wili

           /  December 22, 2017

          What kinds of humidity levels are you looking at, Glen? That’s another way that super-hot oceans can make adjacent land areas unlivable.

        • Glen Kelleher

           /  December 22, 2017

          This answer is actually to ‘wili’. It seemed like I could not reply directly to him/her.

          Hi Wili.

          Here are summary records for the Penrith site which Robert has referred to (when he says Western Sydney) for Dec.

          http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/dwo/IDCJDW2111.latest.shtml

          The 2 record days I refer to are the 14th and 19th Dec. The humidity drops away as it heats up with the winds from central Aust. You can see the 3PM values there at 13 and 17 % after being quite a bit higher in the morning. So we are not approaching wet bulb of 35C, but dangerous nevertheless for nutters who think they can hack the heat.

          Many sporting and outdoor events cancelled, building work put off, basically anything done outdoors cancelled. Just sit inside and ‘enjoy’ the aircon or go shopping (yay) at the mall. Not my cup of tea.

        • eleggua

           /  December 22, 2017

          ” go shopping (yay) at the mall.”

          As GWB told us, that also helps defeat terrorism, so it’s really a win-win.

    • eleggua

       /  December 22, 2017

      “It actually broke its all time December high twice this month.”

      In a few more years (or less), folks will stop referring to temperature broken records and rainfall records, etc, as broken records become more-and-more commonplace,
      giving new, double meaning to the cliche, “like listening to a broken record”.

      Reply
      • Glen Kelleher

         /  December 22, 2017

        Hi Eleggua

        January is the hottest month on average for pretty much all of Aust. In FEBRUARY this year, we broke max Feb temp record in the town where I live 3 times – 3 consecutive days – 44C, 46.8C, 45.9C. The last 2 broke the record (45.0C) for any time of the year by 1.8C and 0.9C respectively.

        http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=122&p_display_type=dailyDataFile&p_startYear=&p_c=&p_stn_num=061260

        Our family have medium term plans to move to a cooler part of Aust (Northern Tablelands of NSW). Just need my youngest to finish school.

        Reply
        • eleggua

           /  December 22, 2017

          Ugh. Hot. Friend went home there for the winter, to escape the summer heat in the States. It was a hot winter, or not a winter. They say, hotter and hotter and hotter every year, quite uncomfortably noticeable.

  3. Mark in OZ

     /  December 22, 2017

    The Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) produces a biennial publication on the State of the Climate and the next is due in 2018. The 2016 pub revealed all this was ‘coming’. Some highlights:

    • Australia’s climate has warmed in
    both mean surface air temperature
    and surrounding sea surface
    temperature by around 1 °C
    since 1910.
    • The duration, frequency and
    intensity of extreme heat events
    have increased across large parts
    of Australia.
    • There has been an increase in
    extreme fire weather, and a longer
    fire season, across large parts of
    Australia since the 1970s.
    • May–July rainfall has reduced by
    around 19 per cent since 1970 in the
    southwest of Australia.
    • There has been a decline of around
    11 per cent since the mid-1990s in
    the April–October growing season
    rainfall in the continental southeast.
    • Rainfall has increased across parts of
    northern Australia since the 1970s.
    • Oceans around Australia have
    warmed and ocean acidity levels
    have increased.
    • Sea levels have risen around
    Australia. The rise in mean sea level
    amplifies the effects of high tides
    and storm surges.

    Link to more info if interested.

    https://www.csiro.au/en/Showcase/state-of-the-climate

    Related- Nan’s 1992 Corolla has ‘seen’ just about every sort of weather since it was assembled at the recently closed Toyota factory on the edge of Melbourne. But Tuesday’s gully washer rain included golf ball sized hail and the fading original silver paint now has a peculiar ball pein ‘hammer’ finish. And the Laser Lite polycarbonate sheeting that was erected in the 70’s at her home site to diffuse the sharp summer sun looks like Swiss Cheese.

    Reply
  4. Keith Antonysen

     /  December 22, 2017

    Off topic, but this is the ugly side of climate change and extreme politics.
    Richardo Rossello supported Trump initially after the carnage of Puerto Rico; it has now been shown how shallow any promises made by Trump are.

    https://thinkprogress.org/puerto-rico-tax-bill-aid-0dd36f01b413/

    Quote:

    “Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló vowed to target Republicans at the ballot box next year after Congress failed to appropriate necessary disaster relief funding for the island and left provisions in the recently passed tax bill that could devastate Puerto Rico’s economy.”

    Sadly, we obtain little information from news services about how communities are progressing after carnage from climate change intensified storms.

    Reply
    • Erik Frederiksen

       /  December 22, 2017

      I understand some other Carribean islands which are associated with European countries have recovered much more quickly.

      There’s a few dozen villages in Alaska at imminent risk of destruction due to the lack of sea ice to impede wave erosion. And the US government won’t give them money to move.

      I guess it could open a pandora’s box when the bill comes in to move places like Houston, New Orleans, Miami, NYC and Boston. And the bill will come in because the paleoclimate record clearly shows that a rise in temperature of just 1.5-2 degrees C above pre-industrial temperature commits the system to 6-9m of sea level rise, a large fraction of which will very likely arrive either this century or next.

      Reply
      • In this country we have republicans who will do everything they can not to deal with the problem. My opinion is that we need to remove them from power first. They’re the source of the corruption that’s holding this country back. Not that it hasn’t splattered over others, but they’re the dark fountainhead.

        Reply
        • Vaughn Anderson

           /  December 22, 2017

          +1

        • eleggua

           /  December 22, 2017

          A two-party system is ridiculous. Modern, civilized countries of much smaller size have multi-party systems that allow for coaltions and cooperation between parties.

          Highly recommend the brilliant Danish TV series ‘Borgen’, pronounced “boe-wen”.
          Excellent depiction of a multi-party system in action, clearly illustrated.
          Writing and acting, standouts. The first two (of three total) seasons are best; the first is top-notch stuff.

          From wikip:
          “It tells how Birgitte Nyborg, a minor centrist politician, becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark against all the odds.”

          “While the political parties in the series are fictional, they do have “recognisable real-life equivalents”:

          The Moderates (De Moderate), Birgitte Nyborg’s centre-left party in the first two series, is based on the Danish Social Liberal Party (Radikale Venstre)
          The Labour Party (Arbejderpartiet) is based on the Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterne)
          The left-wing environmentalist Green Party (Miljøpartiet) is similar to the Socialist People’s Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti)
          The far-left Solidarity Collective (Solidarisk Samling) is similar to the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten)
          The New Democrats (Nye Demokrater), Birgitte Nyborg’s new centrist party in the third season is based on the New Alliance (Ny Alliance)
          The centre-right Liberal Party (De Liberale) is based on Venstre
          New Right (Ny Højre) is similar to the conservative Conservative People’s Party (Konservative Folkeparti)
          The national-conservative Freedom Party (Frihedspartiet) is stated by party leader Svend Åge Saltum to be a successor party to Mogens Glistrup’s Progress Party (Fremskridtspartiet), just like its real-life successor Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti)

          Following the 2011 parliamentary election, the Social Liberals, the Socialist People’s Party, and the Social Democrats did form a coalition government, with parliamentary support from the Red-Green Alliance, and with Helle Thorning-Schmidt becoming Denmark’s first female prime minister (though, in the real-life coalition, the Social Democrats were the leading party).”

        • eleggua

           /  December 22, 2017

          “Modern, civilized countries”

          Is the US either of those things?
          Recommended reading: ‘Fantasyland’ by Kurt Andersen.

          https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/209776/fantasyland-by-kurt-andersen/9781400067213/

          “In this sweeping, eloquent history of America, Kurt Andersen shows that what’s happening in our country today—this post-factual, “fake news” moment we’re all living through—is not something new, but rather the ultimate expression of our national character. America was founded by wishful dreamers, magical thinkers, and true believers, by hucksters and their suckers. Fantasy is deeply embedded in our DNA.

          Over the course of five centuries—from the Salem witch trials to Scientology to the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, from P. T. Barnum to Hollywood and the anything-goes, wild-and-crazy sixties, from conspiracy theories to our fetish for guns and obsession with extraterrestrials—our love of the fantastic has made America exceptional in a way that we’ve never fully acknowledged. From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams and epic fantasies—every citizen was free to believe absolutely anything, or to pretend to be absolutely anybody. With the gleeful erudition and tell-it-like-it-is ferocity of a Christopher Hitchens, Andersen explores whether the great American experiment in liberty has gone off the rails.

          Fantasyland could not appear at a more perfect moment. If you want to understand Donald Trump and the culture of twenty-first-century America, if you want to know how the lines between reality and illusion have become dangerously blurred, you must read this book.”

        • Yes, but Trump’s doing something that will keep him virtually in power for at least one generation. He’s packing the courts with Federalist Society nominees.

          Obama had a chance to do this, but didn’t.

        • eleggua

           /  December 26, 2017

          What happens after this clown’s indicted and impeached and removed from office will be very interesting.

          i.e. If revelations vis a vis collusion with Russia are proven, will anything he did while in office be allowed to stand?
          i.e. Treason’s much different than the Watergate crimes. If a standing president is proven to have been in collusion with a foreign power and acted with them in concert to falsely win the election, what happens to any legislation, appointments, etc that were made before they were removed?
          Seems treason is good grounds to negate many if not all of the moves made by the criminal.

          Obviously, under those circumstances – proven treason – any official moves Trump made would be under suspicion with regard to how they served his treasonous means and ends.

          http://www.nytimes.com/1861/01/25/news/treason-against-the-united-states.html?pagewanted=all

        • eleggua

           /  December 27, 2017

          The sooner he’s indicted and removed from office, the better.

          https://politics.stackexchange.com/questions/16582/what-happens-if-trump-committed-treason

          “…it would be for the president’s successor to undo any executive actions deemed to be tainted by the treason, and it would be for Congress and the new president to repeal any laws, just as it is when any president leaves office. Similarly, any judicial appointments tainted by the treason would have to be undone with separate impeachment proceedings brought against the judges or justices in question.”

  5. Erik Frederiksen

     /  December 22, 2017

    The Scripps Oceanographic Institute professor Jeremy Jackson:

    “We had this idea of a movie that we called Escape from Malibu from this shifting baselines project we do to try and make people a little bit more aware of what’s happening in the ocean. The idea was that Malibu, where it costs $5 million for a little wooden shack to live on the ocean, that it would become such a disgusting place that the only people who live there would be the people who couldn’t afford to move to Montana or Wyoming. Everybody laughs when you say that. But, in fact, we found a place in southwest Florida which is already Escape from Malibu.

    These toxic blooms happen. There’s a planktonic organism, a dinoflagellate, and it explodes in populations. I have a satellite photograph where you can see the single toxic bloom. The bottom of the picture is Mexico and the top right of the picture is the Mississippi Delta. The entire northwestern Gulf of Mexico is one toxic dinoflagellate bloom. The same species has toxic blooms on the west coast of Florida. This thing comes ashore, this bloom, and it’s very ominous looking. You could make a great movie about it because if you look at it from above, it’s this black cloud in the ocean moving ashore onto the coast. And as it moves ashore, just a little bit of breeze stirs up the water and droplets of the ocean water get into the air. They come ashore and within 24 hours the emergency rooms of all the hospitals fill up with people with acute respiratory distress, asthmatics go into crisis mode. They close the schools. They close businesses. People move away from their dream homes on the gold coast of Florida. It’s Escape from Malibu. It’s the rise of slime. The slime is moving ashore and people have to move away. And that’s not some horror movie. That’s 2006 in western Florida because of all this stuff I’ve been talking about.”
    https://www.learner.org/courses/envsci/scientist/transcripts/jackson.html

    Reply
  6. Eric Thurston

     /  December 22, 2017

    A bit OT but it does relate to Australia’s energy problem. I love the irony in this little news item:

    Tesla big battery outsmarts lumbering coal units after Loy Yang trips

    http://reneweconomy.com.au/tesla-big-battery-outsmarts-lumbering-coal-units-after-loy-yang-trips-70003/

    The Tesla big battery is having a big impact on Australia’s electricity market, far beyond the South Australia grid where it was expected to time shift a small amount of wind energy and provide network services and emergency back-up in case of a major problem.
    Last Thursday, one of the biggest coal units in Australia, Loy Yang A 3, tripped without warning at 1.59am, with the sudden loss of 560MW and causing a slump in frequency on the network.
    What happened next has stunned electricity industry insiders and given food for thought over the near to medium term future of the grid, such was the rapid response of the Tesla big battery to an event that happened nearly 1,000km away.
    Even before the Loy Yang A unit had finished tripping, the 100MW/129MWh had responded, injecting 7.3MW into the network to help arrest a slump in frequency that had fallen below 49.80Hertz.
    Data from AEMO (and gathered above by Dylan McConnell from the Climate and Energy College) shows that the Tesla big battery responded four seconds ahead of the generator contracted at that time to provide FCAS (frequency control and ancillary services), the Gladstone coal generator in Queensland.

    Reply
  7. Erik Frederiksen

     /  December 22, 2017

    Perhaps the most ominous potential impact from warming oceans is the thinning and destruction of floating ice shelves which act as buttresses slowing the flow of ice sheets into the ocean.

    A rise in temperature of just 1 degree C took out the ice shelf for Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland and the Antarctic Peninsula has lost 8-10 ice shelves over the last 25-30 years according to Jonathan Bamber.

    When the Larsen B ice shelf broke up there in 2002 the glaciers behind sped up by a factor of 6-8 and are still flowing at that accelerated rate today because the cork was removed. There’s little ice there, but further south we’re worried about ice shelves which are holding back a lot more ice.

    Just for fun, Eric Rignot said that if we sped up all of Antarctica’s glaciers by a factor of 6.5 we’d see a sea level rise rate of 4cm per year, the same which occurred 14,600 years ago for four centuries during Meltwater Pulse 1A. There were larger ice sheets then, but that rate indicates that the ice sheets can do dramatic things when they collapse.

    Reply
    • 1 to 1.5 C is no joke. It probably means 10-20 feet of sea level rise long term.

      Reply
      • Erik Frederiksen

         /  December 22, 2017

        From a paper last month from PNAS titled: Well below 2 °C: Mitigation strategies for avoiding dangerous to catastrophic climate changes

        “The current risk category of dangerous warming is extended to more categories, which are defined by us here as follows: >1.5 °C as dangerous; >3 °C as catastrophic; and >5 °C as unknown, implying beyond catastrophic, including existential threats.”

        Given what we’ve seen at 1C I’d agree with you.

        http://www.pnas.org/content/114/39/10315.full

        Reply
        • Thanks for this, Eric.

          Is 10-20 feet of long term sea level rise catastrophic at rates of 3-5 feet per century? My opinion is it’s borderline — depending on how able countries are to adapt. But It’s definitely a serious problem at the very least. Definitely something that hits economies hard and generates mass displacement and disruption. It’s just not at the same scale as 2 C or 4 C or worse. One of those ratcheting issues again.

    • Pasander

       /  December 22, 2017

      Antinuclear? I just calculated that we would need about six thousand 3000 MWt nuclear reactors (17,7 TW) working at near 100% thermal efficiency to sequester and “unburn” the CO2 at the same rate that we currently produce and dump into the atmosphere (1300 metric tonnes of CO2 per second).

      Suppose you would like to have wind turbines instead. You would need about six million 6 MW wind turbines at a genereous 50% capacity factor. Those have a rotor diameter of about 150 meters and the recommended separation distance between the turbines is about 7 rotor diameters, or about a kilometer. So you could fit about one of those per square kilometer. Even if you cheated a little and built them in closer proximity to each other, you would still be talking of millions of square kilometers, or an area of about half the size of continental United States.

      So, perhaps solar panels? Let’s assume you’ll get 50 watts per square meter (averaged over the day and night and assuming it’s not cloudy very often). You would need about 350 000 square kilometers of solar panels (with 100% land coverage). That is still a size of a fairly large country.

      You could do this sequestering with smaller energy input if you just liquefied the CO2 and injected it into basaltic rock formations where it would form carbonate minerals. You would have to drill quite a many injection wells, though!

      These are just “back of the envelope” calculations but my intention is not to be 100% accurate, rather I want everyone to understand the immense scale of the problem we are facing.

      And remember, the calculations above are only to counteract our current emissions as they happen. In reality we should also “unburn” (or at least take back) several decades worth of CO2 emissions.

      In short, I think we’re most likely screwed, or at least we will come really really close to wiping ourselves and pretty much everything else off the face of the planet.

      Happy holidays!!!

      Reply
      • Nuclear has environmental damage, lack of resiliency to climate change (sea level rise), and negative economic learning curve going against it. It’s definitely a low carbon or zero emissions in practice energy source. But right now it can’t compete with renewables on cost, scaling, innovation, safety or that positive learning curve mentioned above. What we need to deal with the climate crisis is low cost and rapid scaling.

        I’m not going to weigh in entirely against nuclear. Shutting off nuclear to burn coal would be a bad trade, IMO. However, the anti-nuclear activists do have a point RE safety and pollution.

        Since I’d like to encourage discussion and debate about climate change solutions, I’m going to leave the forum open for discourse and argument over this issue. That said, I am not at all sympathetic to anti-factual attacks on renewable energy that have been proven wrong time and time again.

        Reply
        • TS Norway

           /  December 22, 2017

          As you may be aware of, Norwegian state oil company Statoil (by the way one of those top 100- historic polluters mentioned in your divestment article) has been building out what must surely be some of the largest wind farms in the world outside the coast of UK. They recently finished work with one of them. I read somewhere that Statoil received 1,6 billion pounds (subsidy) for building this facility that had a cost of 1,5 billion pounds. So I suppose Statoil receives this big sum for putting up the windmills (at own cost) and selling the power (for own gain) for a “reasonable” price. (There is also a company from Abu Dhabi I think contributing with financing.) The CEO of Statoil was recently on TV here, in connection with opening of this facility, stating that he believed they would manage without subsidies around 2025. This seem to be a long time off. I hope that he is not indirectly saying that they put almost as much energy into the production/ installation of the windmills as they get out from them (at present), but the numbers can make you wonder.
          Also, I just read a couple of articles in the Guardian on how the EU is counting on burning down forests to reach half of their renewable targets. Wood burning can be said to be renewable, but in this case you get enormous CO2 emissions (much more than with coal burning) up front, but the “capturing” of these emissions by later regrowth will take place so far into the future that we can really not afford to wait for it..

          Anyway, just two topics you may read up on if you have the capacity. Happy holidays and try to take a break from all this now or then…

        • eleggua

           /  December 22, 2017

          Anti-nuclear was much stronger some decades ago. I’m not for it; too many negatives, too much bad, bad potential. (Hello, Fukishima.)

          Anyone recall the ‘No Nukes’ movement and releated concerts?

          (Somewhere up front in that mass of humanity is a much younger version of this poster.)

        • wharf rat

           /  December 22, 2017

          Future Congressman John Hall and friends at No Nukes

        • Thanks for this, Rat. OT: I’m breaking up my investigation into two parts — one illustrative and narrative, the other science-based. We’ll see which one flies better. First part posting tonight.

        • eleggua

           /  December 22, 2017

          “Future Congressman John Hall and friends at No Nukes”

          It was a fairly amazing day. Just about every performer got on stage during each other’s sets. You can see from the vids, folks were genuinely committed. The culture of popular music in the US was much different then than it is today.
          Pete Seegar is dead and, apparently, in popular music so is geniune concern for more than just one’s career and Facebook likes.

          Maggie Kuhn, Barry Commoner, Bella Abzug…who even remembers them?!

          A totally different time:

          “…the protesters were met by a cloudless blue sky while the sun — the alternative energy source they promoted — glistened off the World Trade Center towers looming nearby.”

          “Marijuana and beer were readily available, but generally the crowd appeared to be serious and attentive to the speakers.”

          “When Pete Seeger joined Tom Paxton on the stage to sing “If I Had a Hammer,” an old antiwar favorite, the fairly undemonstrative crowd began to stir and eventually most people were on their feet singing and clapping.”

          btw, the show was free.

        • Pasander

           /  December 25, 2017

          But look at the immense energy and power density of nuclear compared to wind and solar, and even hydro. Nuclear also produces power quite reliably 24/7 unlike intermittent wind and solar. Hydro can suffer from a large scale drought. And it’s not like wind and solar don’t come with problems of their own. For example, the energy storage problem to counteract their intermittancy is nowhere near to being solved yet (other than pumped hydro and/or very long distance HVDC transmission lines) and will in any case make them much more expensive than they seem at a quick glance.

          I’m not against the renewables per se. In fact I’m a producer and seller of renewable electricity myself (from hydro). I just think going nuclear would in many ways be the easiest way out of our current global carbon crisis.

        • eleggua

           /  December 26, 2017

          “going nuclear”

          would be akin to “going postal”. No nukes. Unnecessary, as per Robert.

          The “easy” ways are often not the best. Also, that just allows the same clowns that created this mess to control global energy. Take ’em all down, asap, and let’s clean up every mess they’ve made, while not making any new messes.

      • eleggua

         /  December 22, 2017

        “In short, I think we’re most likely screwed…Happy holidays!!!”

        Reply
  8. wili

     /  December 22, 2017

    Speaking of oceans:

    “UN poised to move ahead with landmark treaty to protect high seas

    Waters outside national boundaries are currently unregulated, devastated by overfishing and pollution. 140 countries back the motion to establish a treaty”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/22/un-poised-to-move-ahead-with-landmark-treaty-to-protect-high-seas

    Reply
    • wili

       /  December 22, 2017

      Also from today’s Guardian:

      “Devastating climate change could lead to 1m migrants a year entering EU by 2100

      Researchers plotted temperature rises against the number of asylum applications and are predicting that as the southern hemisphere heats up the number of people migrating to the EU each year will triple”

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/21/devastating-climate-change-could-see-one-million-migrants-a-year-entering-eu-by-2100

      (But don’t worry; Trump’s Pentagon just determined that GW can never be any kind of security threat or threat to stability of any regions! /snark)

      Reply
    • The UN is taking leadership on key issues when the U.S. is backing away. People should understand that this ceding of moral high ground is also a ceding of far more effective soft power. I absolutely support the UN as an enabler of helpful policy and cooperation on global issues like environmental challenges, to prevent warfare, to address climate change, to help migrants and displaced persons, to reduce poverty, to spread democracy and equality, to combat hunger, to allow for family planning and population restraint, and to advocate for women’s rights, human rights, and basic freedoms.

      Reply
      • Syd Bridges

         /  December 22, 2017

        I agree with you that America’s soft power is being squandered by Trump. It was damaged by G W Bush, but it recovered considerably under Obama. In the UK, the Iraq War ended up obliterating any legacy Tony Blair would have left, so it probably hurt US soft power less than elsewhere.

        However, I think it will be much harder for the US to restore its soft power after Trump. Regardless of whether he is impeached and replaced, people will still look at the US and wonder whether it can be trusted not to produce another Trump. Just like for us as individuals, a good reputation is hard to earn, easy to lose, and extremely difficult to win back. As Shakespeare put it:

        “But he that filches from me my good name
        Robs me of that which not enriches him,
        And makes me poor indeed.”

        However, Trump has done one better. He may have stolen the US’ good name, but he is certainly greatly enriching himself-and his fellow thieves-in the process.

        Reply
        • Are you listening fellow Americans? The world is starting to fear us and the only way that we can redeem ourselves is if we expunge this harmful legacy and tendency once and for all. We are starting to walk down the path of so many abusive states in the past. The resistance of many of us will not be enough unless it is utterly and completely successful. The scar that Trump and the GOP has put on the good face of America must therefore be entirely removed. There can be no compromise in this. Our very future as a nation and our standing in the world is at stake.

        • eleggua

           /  December 22, 2017

          “The scar that Trump and the GOP has put on the good face of America must therefore be entirely removed. There can be no compromise in this. Our very future as a nation and our standing in the world is at stake. ”

          That’s how he’s going to MAGA. His fncking things up so badly and so obviously is a catalyst for massive positive change. Keep your wits and humour about you during the storm; it’s going to end and there’s a lot of great work to be done afterwards.

        • eleggua

           /  December 22, 2017

          Some good pieces speculating on what happens after Trump.

          ‘What Comes After a Trump Presidency?’
          Jun 20, 2017

          https://www.damemagazine.com/2017/06/20/what-comes-after-trump-presidency/

          “When the end of his presidency comes, this man’s sole priority will be to maximize his profit while propping up his ego. If undermining the rule of law and spreading a toxic lack of faith in the legitimacy of government by screaming “witch-hunt” and “coup d’etat” will allow him to monetize the rage surrounding his departure, then that is what he will do. If demonizing the Republican Party and destroying their electoral prospects will buttress his fragile ego, then destroy the Republicans he shall. If hurtling American foreign policy into chaos or sabotaging domestic insurance markets will produce distractions that could give him a safer exit ramp from the presidency, then he will create an emergency and damn the consequences.

          The end of this presidency will involve wanton destruction and piracy. We need to prepare……

          There is no orderly line of succession if one of our major political parties collapses. And I do not know whether the Republican Party will escape the collapse of this administration.

          The GOP has been turning itself into the Party of Trump for decades. The amoral showman in the White House did not appear from nowhere. He is the apotheosis of the Fox News, right-wing talk radio, nihilistic politics of destruction that have been the GOP’s stock-in-trade since the presidency of Bill Clinton. As many from their own ranks now admit, Republicans no longer know how to govern. All they have left is scorched-earth opposition. That nihilism now has a face and a voice in the current president.

          After this crisis is over, we will need two functional national political parties to speak for the majority of Americans and restore us to some kind of normal governance. But how does the Republican Party step back from being the Party of Trump? Having embraced a bigoted demagogue, how does the GOP repudiate bigotry and reject the next demagogue who tries to take over their party? Having participated in the systematic gaslighting of America in order to validate the warped reality of a pathological narcissist, how does the GOP speak with integrity again? Having stolen a Supreme Court nomination and blown up the filibuster to complete the theft; having destroyed regular order in the Senate to craft a health-care bill in secret that would take coverage away from millions of Americans and regulate a sixth of the economy with no hearings and no public discussion—after what they have turned themselves into, how does the GOP return to responsible governance?

          This is the worst crisis in the modern history of the American presidency. As it continues to unfold, newscasters and commentators will fill every passing day with speculation about what happens next. But that is not enough. We need to prepare for what comes after.”

        • eleggua

           /  December 22, 2017

          ‘What Happens After Trump?’
          October 12, 2017 by Katherine Brewer

          http://www.wbur.org/freakout/2017/10/12/after-trump-norm-ornstein-bob-corker-huey-long

          Ron Suskind: “It makes me think that when President Trump leaves office–and yes at some point he will leave office–What kind of lasting harm will his presidency have done to the office itself and to our government and the nation beyond Washington?”

          Heather Cox Richardson:
          “I believe that America right now is walking on a knife edge and it has been now for a while. This is not brand new. And it’s a knife edge that could take us to the end of America or to the renewal of American democracy. We have been in a place in the past much like where we are now. We look very much like the 1850s, right before the Civil War, in the 1890s, during the gilded age, and in the 1920s, what were known as the roaring 20s. We had times when the country was bitterly divided when the government was run by people with a great deal of money. And in each of those moments we got the rise of a younger politician. In the 1850s it was Abraham Lincoln. In the 1890s it was Teddy Roosevelt, who was a Republican in the mold of Abraham Lincoln and who was horrified by the fact the Republican Party had been taken over by what were known as robber barons. In the 1920s it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat. And in each of those times Americans came right up to the brink of oligarchy or fascism and then they recovered their senses and they rebirth a new form of progressive American government that took us into new and exciting and productive and prosperous times. So right now we might be in the end times or the beginning times and maybe they’re both the same thing.”

        • eleggua

           /  December 22, 2017

          Written less than a week after the election, Frank Rich is a bit negative here, just a bit.
          I don’t concur with his analysis, and that’s even before a lot more that’s inevitably going to go down before that clown exits the center ring. It’s going to get worse (ugh) before the show ends, but once it’s over, the majority are going to switch the station.

          ‘After Trump
          Liberals ecstatic over this month’s election must not forget: Even after this demagogue is finished, a new one will rise in his place.’
          By Frank Rich November 13, 2017

          http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/frank-rich-trumpism-after-trump.html

          “….Looking to the future in his 60 Minutes White House exit interview, Bannon said, “The only question before us” is whether it “is going to be a left-wing populism or a right-wing populism.” And that is the question, he added, “that will be answered in 2020.” Give the devil his due: He does have the question right. But there is every reason to fear that our unending civil war will not be resolved by any election anytime soon in the destabilized America that Trump will leave behind.”

  9. wharf rat

     /  December 22, 2017

    Trump Resort in Ireland Will Build Seawalls to Protect Against Climate Change

    President Donald Trump’s golf resort will build two seawalls to protect three holes on the golf course from rising sea levels and water erosion.
    Eamon Ryan, the leader of the Irish Green Party opposed the walls, saying the party is considering appealing the decision
    “The best advice we had was that it would be better to move the golf holes farther inland, where there’s room for them, rather than disrupt the beach,” Ryan said.

    https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-12-22/trump-resort-in-ireland-will-build-seawalls-to-protect-against-climate-change

    Reply
    • Ah, that wall thing again. Trump got his wall, but he built it to address something he has labeled a hoax. Of course the other wall, if built, would just exacerbate the climate change related displacement issue. Hypocritical action #1000.

      Reply
    • Just letting you know — working on the California fires article today. Broad scope of evidence for climate change influence in western fires this year.

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  December 22, 2017

        Effects of the fires on crops and migrant workers.

        “….The wildfires in Southern California have charred hundreds of thousands of acres and destroyed thousands of structures. They have also taken a toll on agriculture, a $45 billion industry in California that employs more than 400,000 people statewide. The Thomas fire, which has now spread from Ventura County into Santa Barbara County, struck the biggest avocado- and lemon-producing region in the United States.

        …Avocado orchards are particularly vulnerable: They line hillsides, which were in the path of the fire, and their dropped leaves collect on the ground, providing perfect tinder.
        Continue reading the main story

        Lemon groves tend to be located on flatter ground, and the trees do not shed their leaves. But they were battered by the same winds that spread the fires, blowing loose or badly scarring the fruit. Lemons cannot be sold once they have hit the ground, and damaged lemons suffer in quality and value.

        …Many farmers said the devastation would have been considerably worse were it not for the workers on the front lines, frenetically spraying water from hoses and small water tanks mounted on their backs. Sometimes workers resorted to shoveling sand onto smoldering vegetation.

        Some 36,000 farmworkers, the majority of them immigrants, work in Ventura County. About nine out of 10 farmworkers in the area are illegally in the country, according to independent estimates.

        One Mexican worker, who gave only his first name, Fermin, evacuated his wife and 5-year-old daughter from their trailer park, then went to the farm where he works.

        “The fire was all around us, and I felt despair and sadness for my boss and the land as I saw it approaching,” Fermin explained in Spanish during a break from clearing debris and repairing melted pipes.

        Fermin and his co-workers fought the blaze until firefighters arrived and ordered them to leave. He and others were back on the job at sunrise the next morning, according to his supervisor, Mike Sullivan, who manages several hundred acres of orchards for ranchers in the area…..”

        Reply
        • eleggua

           /  December 22, 2017

          Extreme weather events this year impacting crops across the US.

          “Over the last few months, natural disasters have damaged other signature crops. The grape harvest was nearly complete when wildfires hit Northern California in October, but some growers are anxious about whether the taste of their wine could be tainted by smoke.

          Hurricane Irma in September inflicted more than $760 million in damage to Florida’s citrus groves. Adam Putnam, the Florida agriculture commissioner, said on Tuesday that citrus growers were still struggling with the devastation that has decimated this year’s production.

          In southern Florida, tomato growers have faced delays and lower early yields because of the storm. And destruction to worker housing forced many field hands to double up in available units, according to Julia Perkins of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a labor-rights group.”

      • wharf rat

         /  December 22, 2017

        sweet

        Reply
  10. Shawn Redmond

     /  December 22, 2017

    Ha Robert or should I say Bob (Cratchit). You have my permission to take a few days off for the seasonal festivities. No extra coal for the stove though. This California thing is on hell of a nightmare just the same. Some off topic stuff for those that what to know. All the best to you and yours as well as all the posters and lurkers here! Cheers!
    http://www.digitaljournal.com/tech-and-science/science/new-study-snake-fungal-disease-may-now-be-a-global-threat/article/510609
    The report, published in the online journal Science Advances on Wednesday, December 20, suggests that given the scope of the snake fungal disease caused by Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, future surveys should operate under the assumption that all species harbor the pathogen.
    “This really is the worst-case scenario,” said lead author Frank Burbrink, an associate curator at the American Museum of Natural History. “Our study suggests that first responders shouldn’t just be looking for certain types of snakes that have this disease, but at the whole community. All snakes could become infected, or already are infected.”

    Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/tech-and-science/science/new-study-snake-fungal-disease-may-now-be-a-global-threat/article/510609#ixzz521AD0Afu

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  December 22, 2017

      Also posted here yesterday by ColoradoBob. As noted there, I’ve observed that sort of fungal infestation in snakes going back many decades, always near flowing water. Seems to affect some resident populations and not others, at least in my experience. Some places, find snakes with it. Others, none have it. What I’ve seen wasn’t as pronounced as what appears on the snakes in the photos in the study. That’s far more advanced in condition that what I’d ever seen. My sense, it’s always been around but is exploding in recent decades due to some environmental co-factor.

      This piece points out, it’s definitely been around awhile. My earliest observations predate 1986, btw, by a good bit.

      https://cwhl.ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/disease/snake-fungal-disease

      “Snake Fungal Disease was first definitively identified in a population of Timber Rattlesnakes residing in New Hampshire in 2006. Since then, both colubrids and pit vipers in Eastern and Midwestern United States have been identified with SFD. However, recent advances in molecular diagnostics have allowed identification of cases dating back as far as 1986.”

      Reply
      • Syd Bridges

         /  December 23, 2017

        I suppose it was 10-15 years ago that there was a serious threat to amphibians from fungal disease and then there was one that attacked bats. Probably these fungal outbreaks are symptomatic of the increasing stress that we are putting on ecosystems worldwide. Fungi are superb opportunist pathogens. They have recently ravaged western forests with the help of the pine bark beetle, and I’ve seen reports that the Cavendish banana, the major cultivar, is under threat from the same fungus that wiped out its predecessor in the 1950s.

        Reply
        • eleggua

           /  December 26, 2017

          I’d posted a response a few daze ago; obviously didn’t log.
          In a response in an earlier thread, noted the concert of fungul diseases affecting classes of animals worldwide.

          Bats: white-nose syndrome = fungus.
          Amphibians: cytridiomycosis = fungus.
          Bees: colony collapse disorder = fungus related.

          It’s not affecting just one species, or even just one genera or family. Obviously, something in way out-of-balance in the ecosystem at-large.

          Chytrid fungal disease was identified over 25 years ago. Researchers at a worldwide academic conference for folks that work with anurans realized many of them were experiencing a decline in the species they studied; it was becoming harder and harder to find sample animals. Many were embarrassed to admit it, figuring it was their fault they weren’t locating any. Comparting notes, realized something was up worldwide.

          The first ‘official’ victim was the Golden Bell toad of the Monteverde cloud forest in Costa Rica. Within a few years of the noting of decline, the species completely disappeared. None in captivity. It’s likely extinct.

          Ironically, researchers have realize it’s likely they’ve spread the fungus. It’s vector follows the paths of researchers. Probably hitchhiking on boots, socks, pants, etc.

          There’re a few, maybe several now, amphibian arks worldwide, where folks have collected and are maintaining species in captivity breeding programs, with the eye on a future absent the fungal pathogen, and a re-introduction of species now missing in the wild.

          The banana is different. It’s not just due to the fungus. It’s more to do with diminished genetics of the banana due to cloning over many decades. Same thing happened with Gros Michel. The pathogen that affected Big Mike is not the same one that’s taking out the Cavendish; it’s a different fungus.

        • eleggua

           /  December 26, 2017

          Meant to say, the golden toad of Costa Rica. Conflated the name with the golden bell frog of Australia.

          Pair in amplexus. Sexual dimorphic; bigger females, completely different coloration.
          The males were totally orange-gold.

  11. eleggua

     /  December 22, 2017

    Hmmmm…wondering if those storm walls on the golf resort in Ireland will withstand pummelling by massive boulders thrown against them by storm surges.

    ‘Ancient storms – not a tsunami – left massive boulders on western coast cliffs, study finds’
    Dec 3, 2017

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/science/ancient-storms-not-a-tsunami-left-massive-boulders-on-western-coast-cliffs-study-finds-1.3314054

    “Spectacular boulder deposits on the Co Mayo coast and parts of the western seaboard were caused by ferocious Atlantic storms – and not an unknown tsunami – long in Ireland’s geological past, a study has concluded.

    Geologists from NUI Galway and Oxford University published research comparing the Irish coastline with a location in New Zealand known to have been ravaged by a tsunami millions of years ago.

    The scientists conclude that giant waves, more than 30m in height, generated sufficient power to propel enormous boulders – some over 50 tonnes – onto the Irish foreshore, and in some instances up over cliffs of considerable height…..

    ….“Climate change means our shorelines are becoming more vulnerable, and the ability to read these piles of boulders will help us understand how much more vulnerable,” Prof Ryan added.

    “We all know tsunamis are frightening. I think it’s less well-appreciated how frightening storms can be,” he added.

    Given that storms are predicted to increase in both number and intensity in the future, “full understanding of the power of waves and their effect on coastal communities is really, really important”.

    Prof Dewey said: “The triple junction between land, sea and air is perhaps the least well understood in the Earth sciences. We should pay greater attention to our shores.””

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  December 22, 2017

      This one isn’t the paper referenced above, however it coordinates with that info.

      ‘Wave‐Emplaced Coarse Debris and Megaclasts in Ireland and Scotland: Boulder Transport in a High‐Energy Littoral Environment’
      Anja Scheffers, Sander Scheffers, Dieter Kelletat and Tony Browne
      The Journal of Geology
      Vol. 117, No. 5 (September 2009)

      https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/10.1086/600865.pdf?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

      abstract

      “Many coastlines of the world, particularly those at higher latitudes and those located in tropical cyclone belts, are regularly battered by strong storm waves. Drowning of low‐lying areas by storm surges and storm floods has been thoroughly recorded; however, storm deposits at rocky shorelines or on cliffs have been underrepresented in the literature. This article presents observations of extraordinary wave deposits along the high–wave energy coastlines of western Ireland and the northern Scottish isles and discusses possible wave event types and time windows of the processes responsible. We used archaeological, geomorphological, and geochronological disciplines to compare our findings with earlier results published for these areas and to contribute to the debate on whether large clasts found well above sea level and/or a considerable distance inland were deposited by storms or by tsunamis.”

      Reply
  12. More on wet bulb temperature.

    Temperature and humidity based projections of a rapid rise in global heat stress exposure during the 21st century. Ethan D Coffel et al. 22 Dec 2017. Environmental Research Letters, Volume 13, Number 1. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa00e

    Abstract
    As a result of global increases in both temperature and specific humidity, heat stress is projected to intensify throughout the 21st century. Some of the regions most susceptible to dangerous heat and humidity combinations are also among the most densely populated. Consequently, there is the potential for widespread exposure to wet bulb temperatures that approach and in some cases exceed postulated theoretical limits of human tolerance by mid- to late-century. We project that by 2080 the relative frequency of present-day extreme wet bulb temperature events could rise by a factor of 100–250 (approximately double the frequency change projected for temperature alone) in the tropics and parts of the mid-latitudes, areas which are projected to contain approximately half the world’s population. In addition, population exposure to wet bulb temperatures that exceed recent deadly heat waves may increase by a factor of five to ten, with 150–750 million person-days of exposure to wet bulb temperatures above those seen in today’s most severe heat waves by 2070–2080. Under RCP 8.5, exposure to wet bulb temperatures above 35 °C—the theoretical limit for human tolerance—could exceed a million person-days per year by 2080…

    Reply
  13. Greetings Robert, I hope you are well. I absolutely love reading your blog/ posts. They are informative, accurate and comprehensive – thank you! Being a New Zealanders living in Auckland and a passionate self appointed climate activist, I’m particularly interested in this article. Not only is it another piece of evidence proving the very real and powerful effects of man made climate change, but it confirms my own suspicions that the recent hot and dry weather we’ve been having is bizzare and concerning to say the least. I’ve been doing some work on a volunteer basis for COTAP – Check out my website here: https://cotap.org/blake/ Keen to connect/ have further dialogue about all things climate etc. Look forward to hearing from you soon, thank you and kind regards, Blake Richardson Primary School Teacher Auckland, N.Z.

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  December 26, 2017

      This article might be of interest to you there in NZ.

      ‘New Zealand’s War on Rats Could Change the World
      The nation wants to eradicate all invasive mammal predators by 2050. Gene-editing technology could help—or it could trigger an ecological disaster of global proportions.’
      Nov 16, 2017

      https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/11/new-zealand-predator-free-2050-rats-gene-drive-ruh-roh/546011/

      “….In recent years, many of the country’s conservationists and residents have rallied behind Predator-Free 2050, an extraordinarily ambitious plan to save the country’s birds by eradicating its invasive predators. Native birds of prey will be unharmed, but Predator-Free 2050’s research strategy, which is released today, spells doom for rats, possums, and stoats (a large weasel). They are to die, every last one of them. No country, anywhere in the world, has managed such a task in an area that big. ….

      …By coincidence, the rise of the Predator-Free 2050 conceit took place alongside the birth of a tool that could help make it a reality—CRISPR, the revolutionary technique that allows scientists to edit genes with precision and ease. In its raw power, some conservationists see a way of achieving impossible-sounding feats like exterminating an island’s rats by spreading genes through the wild population that make it difficult for the animals to reproduce. Think Children of Men, but for rats. Other scientists, including at least one gene-editing pioneer, see the potential for ecological catastrophe, beginning in an island nation with good intentions but eventually enveloping the globe……”

      Reply
      • The elephant that will remain in the room is cat and dog ownership. No one here mentions that dogs and cats are predators too – the reason Predator Free is being proposed is that NZ has no native mammals; we have lots of birds, especially ground-dwelling species, and many geckos and skinks – much pollination is done by these species. And cats and dogs kill native birds in their millions. And we have literally millions of feral cats – eg google – “predator free 2050” cats dogs

        Reply
        • eleggua

           /  December 28, 2017

          Feral cats negative impact on bird populations is enormous, not just in NZ; the numbers are staggering.
          From what I’d read, seems NZ include feral cats in the plan, though not openly.
          This bit’s from the NZHerald, July, 2016:

          “Prosser said the fact pet cats weren’t mentioned in the government plan was because addressing that problem was “electorally impossible”.
          Asked yesterday about philanthropist Gareth Morgan’s goal to get rid of all cats, Key referred to his own pet cat, Moonbeam.
          “Moonbeam is safe as a house. If you’re asking about feral cats on the DoC estate, their time is limited.””

          (DoC = Dept. of Conservation)

          ‘Feral Cats Kill Billions of Small Critters Each Year’
          January 29, 2013

          https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/feral-cats-kill-billions-of-small-critters-each-year-7814590/

          “… cats claim 14 percent of modern bird, amphibian and mammal island extinctions. But what about the mainland?

          …..between 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds lose their lives to cats each year in the United States. Around 33 percent of the birds killed are non-native species (read: unwelcome). Even more startlingly, between 6.9 to 20.7 billion small mammals succumb to the predators. In urban areas, most of the mammals were pesky rats and mice, though rabbit, squirrel, shrew and vole carcasses turned up in rural and suburban locations. Just under 70 percent of those deaths, the authors calculate, occur at the paws of unowned cats, a number about three times the amount domesticated kitties slay.

          Cats may also be impacting reptile and amphibian populations, although calculating those figures remains difficult due to a lack of studies. Based upon data taken from Europe, Australia and New Zealand and extrapolated to fit the United States, the authors think that between 258 to 822 million reptiles and 95 to 299 million amphibians may die by cat each year nationwide, although additional research would be needed to verify those extrapolations.”

  14. That high pressure system off the U.S. west coast is still blocking storms this 2017-18 winter. No rain in December augurs the return of the California drought.

    Reply
  1. Australia’s Hot Ocean Blob Fuels Record Heat, Extreme Weather, Risk to Coral Reefs — robertscribbler « nuclear-news

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