"Plunge is far faster than in Arctic and may lead to more global heating, say scientists" 'Precipitous' fall i...
Friday, May 31, 2019
"In the real world, when there is not enough to go around, wars are a definite possibility. A trade war is a somewhat reduced version of a war. Trump and his advisors, whether or not they understand the real situation, seem to be trying to guide the US to as good an outcome as possible, in the current situation of excessive wage disparity."
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
"it is the most abundant element in the universe and its conversion into energy does not as a rule result in harmful by-products."
Hydrogen Fuel Tech Just Got A Major Boost
By Irina Slav
ARE THEY THE FUTURE
Monday, May 27, 2019
"A report that analyzed 15,000 studies conducted in the last 50 years presents a stark view"
1 million species are under threat. Here are 5 ways we speed up extinctions
Stories about individual species on the brink of extinction may be all too familiar. But a new tally now reveals the breadth of the conservation crisis: One million of the world’s species are now poised to vanish, some as soon as within the next few decades.
That number, which amounts to 1 in every 8 animal or plant species on Earth, comes from a sweeping new analysis of about 15,000 studies conducted within the last 50 years on topics ranging from biodiversity to climate to the health of ecosystems. During that time, the human population has doubled, increasing from 3.7 billion in 1970 to 7.6 billion today. And people are behind the looming losses, an international group of scientists says.
Thanks to human activities, the rate of global species extinctions is tens to hundreds of times faster than the average extinction rate was over the last 10 million years, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, concludes in a summary of the studypublished May 6. The intergovernmental group, which has 132 nations as members including the United States, will release its full 1,500-page report in about six months
THE SIXTH EXTINCTION
Friday, May 24, 2019
"The emerging story of helium suggests that we will NOT always find substitutes precisely when we need them in quantities we require at prices we can afford for such critical and rare materials"
Helium is a finite resource—who knew?
Almost precisely 10 years ago I wrote about the likelihood of a shortage of helium in the not-to-distant future in a piece entitled “Let’s party ’til the helium’s gone.” Last week worries about a helium shortage appeared in my news feed. It seems that we are indeed going to party ’til the helium’s gone as no steps that I know of have been taken to avert the inevitable shortage.
That the shortage comes as a surprise results from a certain scientific illiteracy about the makeup of the universe and the geology of the planet. More on that later.
It also results from a peculiar type of economic thinking that is pervasive today that states that when shortages occur of any commodity, prices will rise to incentivize exploitation of previously uneconomical resources and automatically solve the problem. This intellectually lazy pronouncement does not consider whether the new supplies will be affordable. (As I pointed out in another piece about helium in 2013, “Things do not have to run out to become unavailable.”)
RUNNING OUT OF HELIUM
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
“If we don’t cut greenhouse gas emissions, we are in very serious trouble,” says Rivington, “but other tactics must happen together at the same time.”
Will Climate Change Cause Food Sources to Dwindle?
May 14, 2019 -- Record-breaking floodwaters engulfed the plains of Nebraska in March. As-yet-untold crops, livestock, and farmlands were lost in the disaster. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture estimates that the value of the lost crops and livestock will surpass $800 million.
Nebraska’s main crops include cattle, corn, soybeans, wheat, and dry beans. The state’s estimate of losses does not include the cost of lost livelihood to the many farmers who don’t know when they will be able to farm their land again.
While the floodwaters in the Plains have begun to recede, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that historic, widespread flooding, worsened by above-average snowfall and spring rain, will continue through May.
The heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods that have become the norm in recent years have serious implications for the food supply:
- Extreme heat, floods, and droughts can damage crops and make yields smaller.
- Warmer winters cause premature budding that leads to crop loss.
- Heat waves threaten livestock, too. Continued exposure to extreme heat can make animals more likely to get disease and cut fertility and milk production.
- Specific crops face specific dangers. A new study, for example, has found that climate change has helped to spread a fungus that could destroy 80% of banana crops.
- Higher rainfall from spikes in humidity in a warmer climate leads to loss of soil carbon, which is crucial for plants.
A LOOMING CRISIS
Monday, May 20, 2019
"Debris on Cocos (Keeling) Islands was mostly bottles, cutlery, bags and straws, but also included 977,000 shoes, study says"
Plastic waste on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is like the ‘canary in the coal mine’ in warning about the vast amount of litter in the oceans. Photograph: Jennifer Lavers
By Ben Smee
On the beaches of the tiny Cocos (Keeling) Islands, population 600, marine scientists found 977,000 shoes and 373,000 toothbrushes.
A comprehensive survey of debris on the islands – among the most remote places on Earth, in the Indian Ocean – has found a staggering amount of rubbish washed ashore. This included 414m pieces of plastic, weighing 238 tonnes.
The study, published in the journal Nature, concluded the volume of debris points to the exponential increase of global plastic polluting the world’s oceans and “highlights a worrying trend in the production and discharge of single-use products”.
The lead author, Jennifer Lavers from the University of Tasmania’s Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, said remote islands without large populations were the most effective indicator of the amount of plastic debris floating in the oceans.
“Islands such as these are like canaries in a coal mine and it’s increasingly urgent that we act on the warnings they are giving us. Plastic pollution is now ubiquitous in our oceans, and remote islands are an ideal place to get an objective view of the volume of plastic debris now circling the globe,” Lavers said.
Friday, May 17, 2019
"The reason renewables can’t power modern civilization is because they were never meant to. One interesting question is why anybody ever thought they could:
THE GERMAN MIRACLE
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
"Fauna crisis highlights the failure of regional forest agreements, says Wilderness Society"
The leadbeater’s possum is among 20 mammal species that could become extinct within 20 years. Photograph: Healesville Sanctuary
Record numbers of Australia's wildlife species face 'imminent extinction'
Regional forest agreements have failed in the 20 years since they were established by state governments, says a new report, which reveals that record numbers of threatened forest dwelling fauna and many species are heading towards imminent extinction.
The report, Abandoned – Australia’s forest wildlife in crisis, has assessed the conservation status of federally listed forest-dwelling vertebrate fauna species affected by logging and associated roading and burning across Australia’s regional forest agreement (RFA) regions in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.
Released by the Wilderness Society this week, the report identified 48 federally-listed threatened species of forest-dwelling vertebrate fauna living in areas subject to state-run logging operations.
WHY IS BIODIVERSITY LOSS A PROBLEM
Monday, May 13, 2019
"the Federal Reserve's obsession with generating a "wealth effect" by inflating bubbles in stocks and housing have enriched owners of capital at the expense of the young."
Unrealistically Great Expectations
By Charles Hugh Smith
Our expectations have continued ever higher even as the pie is shrinking..
Let's see if we can tie together four social dynamics: the elite college admissions scandal, the decline in social mobility, the rising sense of entitlement and the unrealistically 'great expectations' of many Americans.
As many have noted, the nation's financial and status rewards are increasingly flowing to the top 5%, what many call a winner-take-all or winner-take-most economy.
This is the primary source of widening wealth and income inequality: wealth and income are disproportionately accruing to the top slice of earners and owners of productive capital.
This concentration manifests in a broad-based decline in social mobility: it's getting harder and harder to break into the narrow band (top 5%) who collects the lion's share of the economy's gains.
Historian Peter Turchin has identified the increasing burden of parasitic elites as one core cause of social and economic collapse. In Turchin's reading, economies that can support a modest-sized class of parasitic elites buckle when the class of elites expecting a free pass to wealth and power expands faster than what the economy can support.
Friday, May 10, 2019
"History shows that the result of inadequate energy supplies is often collapse or a resource war, in an attempt to obtain more of the necessary resources"
The Climate Change Story Is Half True
The climate change story is true is some respects: The climate is indeed changing. And CO2 emissions do seem to affect climate. Burning fossil fuels does indeed make a difference in CO2 levels.
The problem I have with the climate change story is that it paints a totally inaccurate story of the predicament the world is facing. The world’s predicament arises primarily from too little affordable resources, especially energy resources; climate change models tend to give the illusion that our problem is one of a superabundance of fossil fuels.
Furthermore, the world economy has no real option of using significantly less energy, because the economy tends to collapse when there is not enough energy. Economists have not studied the physics of how a networked economy really works; they rely on an overly simple supply and demand model that seems to suggest that prices can rise endlessly.
MEGATRENDS VIEWS TO CONSIDER
Posted by Unknown at 10:12:00 AM
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
"The main lesson for me is that growth is not a “good quantum number,” as physicists will say: it’s not an invariant of our world. Cling to it at your own peril"
By Tom Murphy
By Tom Murphy
Exponential Economist Meets Finite Physicist
Act One: Bread and Butter
Posted by Unknown at 9:13:00 PM
Tuesday, May 7, 2019
"list includes more than 40 per cent of amphibian species, almost 33 percent of reef-forming corals, and more than a third of all marine mammals"
"AND, IT'S A PERFECT STORM"
WE ALSO RUNNING OUT OF NATURAL RESOURCES