AuthorTopic: The Oceans are Coming? BFD, I got other Worries.  (Read 11297 times)

Offline Surly1

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No Ecosystem on Earth Is Safe From Climate Change
« Reply #60 on: August 30, 2018, 02:26:46 PM »
No Ecosystem on Earth Is Safe From Climate Change
If carbon emissions continue to grow, anyone who works with the land could face ‘unprecedented challenges.’


ROBINSON MEYER
A firefighter watches a controlled burn in Sequoia National Forest in August 2015.MAX WHITTAKER / REUTERS

If climate change continues unabated, nearly every ecosystem on the planet would alter dramatically, to the point of becoming an entirely new biome,according to a new paper written by 42 scientistsfrom around the world.

They warn that the changes of the next 200 years could equal—and may likely exceed—those seen over the 10,000 years that ended the last Ice Age. If humanity does not stop emitting greenhouse-gas emissions, the character of the land could metamorphose: Oak forest could become grassland. Evergreen woods could turn deciduous. And, of course, beaches would sink into the sea.

“Anywhere on the globe, the more you change climate, the more likely you are to see major ecological change,” saysStephen Jackson, an author of the report and the director of a climate-adaptation center at the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Having this kind of change occur at such a massive scale in such a short period of time is going to create unprecedented challenges for natural-resource management,” he told me.

The paper, published Thursday inScience, tries to find clues about the world of the future by examining the ecology of the past. Between the peak of the last Ice Age, about 20,000 years ago, and 1800a.d., the world warmed by between 4 and 7 degrees Celsius. This warming transfigured the landscape: It erasedthe mile-high plateau of ice that sat on Manhattan Island, for instance. By melting this and other continent-sized ice sheets, that ancient warming—which was caused by minute shifts in the Earth’s orbital path—raised global sea levels by almost 400 feet. If that sounds fun, it could happen again, within the lifetime of babies born today: Earth could experience 4 to 5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100 if humanity does not slow the emission of heat-trapping gases.

So what did that kind of shift look like that last time? Jackson and two of his colleagues—Jonathan Overpeck and Connor Nolan—addressed that question to dozens of researchers around the world. They asked them to consult what are called “paleoecological records”: special objects in the Earth that have captured evidence of ecosystems over time. The mud at the bottom of a lake is a paleoecological record, for instance. Every year, plant pollen in the air falls into the lake, laying down minute layers as decades pass. Scientists can examine that pollen under the microscope—identifying it, sometimes, to its individual species—topiece together what an ecosystem looked like thousands of years ago. For this study, researchers looked at local paleoclimatic records from two windows of time: the height of the last Ice Age, 20,000 years ago; and the last moment, roughly 200 years ago, before modern global warming began.

The world’s most urgent science project

Slowly, over years, those squadrons of researchers around the world sent back their data. A global picture began to take shape: nearly everywhere on Earth where the temperature changed dramatically, and the vegetation wholly transformed.

Consider, for a second, the scale of these changes. Jackson asked me to think of the hot, humid, marshy plain of Washington, D.C.

“If you took a walk through Rock Creek Park today, you’d see almost entirely deciduous hardwood forest—oak trees, and beech, and tulip poplar, and things like that,” he told me. “But if you were to walk through Rock Creek Valley 20,000 years ago, you would be walking through boreal forest.” It would resemble the forests in the far north of Quebec, the mighty evergreen stands of the Canadian Shield.

It’s the same story out west. “Five miles from where I sit is the middle of the Sonoran Desert and Saguaro National Park,” he told me, from his desk in Tuscon. “Today, there’s big saguaro cacti, mesquite trees, ironwood trees. If we were to roll back the calendar 20,000 years, and we went to the same place, we would find a woodland of evergreen trees.”


How Ecosystems Changed Between the Last Ice Age and 1800 A.D.

These two maps depict roughly 20,000 years of ecosystem change, as captured by nearly 600 lake beds, cave burrows, and other natural records around the world. The red points at left show how much ecosystems changed in their species composition: that is, whether one species (such as white oaks) came to be more abundant than another (such as blue spruce). The green points show how ecosystems changed in structure: a dramatic transition from a forest biome to grassland biome. During the transition out of the last Ice Age, only ecosystems in the tropics avoided huge changes in structure. (Nolan, et al /Science)

The same warming-induced changeovers of the land—which transpired over at least five millennia the last time they struck—are now happening again. “Over the next 100 years, we could see temperature changes that are similar to that,” saysConnor Nolan, an ecologist at the University of Arizona and an author of the paper.

Just how much would vegetation change worldwide? Nolan and his colleagues found a relationship in their bevy of worldwide records between how much temperatures rose and how significantly ecosystems change. When this relationship is projected forward, they find that Earth’s entire land surface is more than 75 percent likely to switch over its biome entirely.

Climate change means insects are coming for our food

It’s hard to state what that scale of change would mean for just about everyone who works with or depends on the land. “If you’re a wildlife manager and your ecosystem changes, if you’re a forest manager trying to respond to wildfires, if you’re a water manager who is responsible for converting rainfall estimates into reservoir levels,” Jackson warned, “then the old rules are not necessarily going to apply.”

Future changes may be even more dramatic than those predicted by the paper. That’s because the climate of the past—and the end of the last Ice Age—cannot tell us everything about our future. “It’s a very, very crude analog,” Jackson told me. “The future will not be like the past. Going into a greenhouse world will not be the same—is not the same—as going from the glacial world to the pre-industrial world.”

“But it’s an instructive analog,” he said. “It provides another way of telling us—beside the models and our limited array of ecological observations—it tells us that terrestrial ecosystems are sensitive to temperature change.”

Outside scientists agreed. “The paper’s findings are not surprising, but they are notable because of the approaches the authors took,” saidMargaret Frasier, an associate professor of ecology at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, in an email.

Dorothy Peteet, a senior research scientist atnasa, told me that “the wild cards” of modern climate change made it hard to know the shape of that future vegetation change. “The nonlinearity of drought and rainfall,” as well as extensive wildfires or floods, “may affect vegetation greatly,” she said in an email.

“These are notable effects of climate warming we are seeing today ... and they will probably be much more exacerbated in the future,” she added.

We want to hear what you think about this article.Submit a letterto the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Eddie

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Re: No Ecosystem on Earth Is Safe From Climate Change
« Reply #61 on: August 31, 2018, 05:38:33 AM »
No Ecosystem on Earth Is Safe From Climate Change
If carbon emissions continue to grow, anyone who works with the land could face ‘unprecedented challenges.’


ROBINSON MEYER
A firefighter watches a controlled burn in Sequoia National Forest in August 2015.MAX WHITTAKER / REUTERS

If climate change continues unabated, nearly every ecosystem on the planet would alter dramatically, to the point of becoming an entirely new biome,according to a new paper written by 42 scientistsfrom around the world.

They warn that the changes of the next 200 years could equal—and may likely exceed—those seen over the 10,000 years that ended the last Ice Age. If humanity does not stop emitting greenhouse-gas emissions, the character of the land could metamorphose: Oak forest could become grassland. Evergreen woods could turn deciduous. And, of course, beaches would sink into the sea.

“Anywhere on the globe, the more you change climate, the more likely you are to see major ecological change,” saysStephen Jackson, an author of the report and the director of a climate-adaptation center at the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Having this kind of change occur at such a massive scale in such a short period of time is going to create unprecedented challenges for natural-resource management,” he told me.

The paper, published Thursday inScience, tries to find clues about the world of the future by examining the ecology of the past. Between the peak of the last Ice Age, about 20,000 years ago, and 1800a.d., the world warmed by between 4 and 7 degrees Celsius. This warming transfigured the landscape: It erasedthe mile-high plateau of ice that sat on Manhattan Island, for instance. By melting this and other continent-sized ice sheets, that ancient warming—which was caused by minute shifts in the Earth’s orbital path—raised global sea levels by almost 400 feet. If that sounds fun, it could happen again, within the lifetime of babies born today: Earth could experience 4 to 5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100 if humanity does not slow the emission of heat-trapping gases.

So what did that kind of shift look like that last time? Jackson and two of his colleagues—Jonathan Overpeck and Connor Nolan—addressed that question to dozens of researchers around the world. They asked them to consult what are called “paleoecological records”: special objects in the Earth that have captured evidence of ecosystems over time. The mud at the bottom of a lake is a paleoecological record, for instance. Every year, plant pollen in the air falls into the lake, laying down minute layers as decades pass. Scientists can examine that pollen under the microscope—identifying it, sometimes, to its individual species—topiece together what an ecosystem looked like thousands of years ago. For this study, researchers looked at local paleoclimatic records from two windows of time: the height of the last Ice Age, 20,000 years ago; and the last moment, roughly 200 years ago, before modern global warming began.

The world’s most urgent science project

Slowly, over years, those squadrons of researchers around the world sent back their data. A global picture began to take shape: nearly everywhere on Earth where the temperature changed dramatically, and the vegetation wholly transformed.

Consider, for a second, the scale of these changes. Jackson asked me to think of the hot, humid, marshy plain of Washington, D.C.

“If you took a walk through Rock Creek Park today, you’d see almost entirely deciduous hardwood forest—oak trees, and beech, and tulip poplar, and things like that,” he told me. “But if you were to walk through Rock Creek Valley 20,000 years ago, you would be walking through boreal forest.” It would resemble the forests in the far north of Quebec, the mighty evergreen stands of the Canadian Shield.

It’s the same story out west. “Five miles from where I sit is the middle of the Sonoran Desert and Saguaro National Park,” he told me, from his desk in Tuscon. “Today, there’s big saguaro cacti, mesquite trees, ironwood trees. If we were to roll back the calendar 20,000 years, and we went to the same place, we would find a woodland of evergreen trees.”


How Ecosystems Changed Between the Last Ice Age and 1800 A.D.

These two maps depict roughly 20,000 years of ecosystem change, as captured by nearly 600 lake beds, cave burrows, and other natural records around the world. The red points at left show how much ecosystems changed in their species composition: that is, whether one species (such as white oaks) came to be more abundant than another (such as blue spruce). The green points show how ecosystems changed in structure: a dramatic transition from a forest biome to grassland biome. During the transition out of the last Ice Age, only ecosystems in the tropics avoided huge changes in structure. (Nolan, et al /Science)

The same warming-induced changeovers of the land—which transpired over at least five millennia the last time they struck—are now happening again. “Over the next 100 years, we could see temperature changes that are similar to that,” saysConnor Nolan, an ecologist at the University of Arizona and an author of the paper.

Just how much would vegetation change worldwide? Nolan and his colleagues found a relationship in their bevy of worldwide records between how much temperatures rose and how significantly ecosystems change. When this relationship is projected forward, they find that Earth’s entire land surface is more than 75 percent likely to switch over its biome entirely.

Climate change means insects are coming for our food

It’s hard to state what that scale of change would mean for just about everyone who works with or depends on the land. “If you’re a wildlife manager and your ecosystem changes, if you’re a forest manager trying to respond to wildfires, if you’re a water manager who is responsible for converting rainfall estimates into reservoir levels,” Jackson warned, “then the old rules are not necessarily going to apply.”

Future changes may be even more dramatic than those predicted by the paper. That’s because the climate of the past—and the end of the last Ice Age—cannot tell us everything about our future. “It’s a very, very crude analog,” Jackson told me. “The future will not be like the past. Going into a greenhouse world will not be the same—is not the same—as going from the glacial world to the pre-industrial world.”

“But it’s an instructive analog,” he said. “It provides another way of telling us—beside the models and our limited array of ecological observations—it tells us that terrestrial ecosystems are sensitive to temperature change.”

Outside scientists agreed. “The paper’s findings are not surprising, but they are notable because of the approaches the authors took,” saidMargaret Frasier, an associate professor of ecology at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, in an email.

Dorothy Peteet, a senior research scientist atnasa, told me that “the wild cards” of modern climate change made it hard to know the shape of that future vegetation change. “The nonlinearity of drought and rainfall,” as well as extensive wildfires or floods, “may affect vegetation greatly,” she said in an email.

“These are notable effects of climate warming we are seeing today ... and they will probably be much more exacerbated in the future,” she added.

We want to hear what you think about this article.Submit a letterto the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.


Another blockbuster from the summer of '62.



Signed first edition, a mere $7800. Who'da thunkit?

Unfortunately, it's only been 56 years since the truth was widely known. That isn't much time in the long term scope of things. It's gotten worse so fast. We were never gonna be able to turn this ship around in such a short time, and by the time we can, it'll be far too late.

Smell the flowers, and dive the coral while you can.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

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Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds
« Reply #62 on: January 11, 2019, 07:37:06 AM »
Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds--


Rising ocean temperatures can bleach corals, like these off of Papua New Guinea.CreditCreditJurgen Freund/NPL/Minden Pictures

 

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Scientists say the world’s oceans are warming far more quickly than previously thought, a finding with dire implications for climate change because almost all the excess heat absorbed by the planet ends up stored in their waters.

A new analysis, published Thursday in the journal Science, found that the oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago. The researchers also concluded that ocean temperatures have broken records for several straight years.

“2018 is going to be the warmest year on record for the Earth’s oceans,” said Zeke Hausfather, an energy systems analyst at the independent climate research group Berkeley Earth and an author of the study. “As 2017 was the warmest year, and 2016 was the warmest year.”

As the planet has warmed, the oceans have provided a critical buffer. They have slowed the effects of climate change by absorbing 93 percent of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases humans pump into the atmosphere.

“If the ocean wasn’t absorbing as much heat, the surface of the land would heat up much faster than it is right now,” said Malin L. Pinsky, an associate professor in the department of ecology, evolution and natural resources at Rutgers University. “In fact, the ocean is saving us from massive warming right now.”

But the surging water temperatures are already killing off marine ecosystems, raising sea levels and making hurricanes more destructive.

As the oceans continue to heat up, those effects will become more catastrophic, scientists say. Rainier, more powerful storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and Hurricane Florence in 2018 will become more common, and coastlines around the world will flood more frequently. Coral reefs, whose fish populations are sources of food for hundreds of millions of people, will come under increasing stress; a fifth of all corals have already died in the past three years.

People in the tropics, who rely heavily on fish for protein, could be hard hit, said Kathryn Matthews, deputy chief scientist for the conservation group Oceana. “The actual ability of the warm oceans to produce food is much lower, so that means they’re going to be more quickly approaching food insecurity,” she said.

Because they play such a critical role in global warming, oceans are one of the most important areas of research for climate scientists. Average ocean temperatures are also a consistent way to track the effects of greenhouse gas emissions because they are not influenced much by short-term weather patterns, Mr. Hausfather said.

“Oceans are really the best thermometer we have for changes in the Earth,” he said.

But, historically, understanding ocean temperatures has been difficult. An authoritative United Nations report, issued in 2014 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, presented five different estimates of ocean heat, but they all showed less warming than the levels projected by computer climate models — suggesting that either the ocean heat measurements or the climate models were inaccurate.

[The I.P.C.C. also issued a report last year that described a climate crisis as soon as 2040.]

Since the early 2000s, scientists have measured ocean heat using a network of drifting floats called Argo, named after Jason’s ship in Greek mythology. The floats measure the temperature and saltiness of the upper 6,500 feet of the ocean and upload the data via satellites.

An ocean sensor deployed by the French research ship Pourquoi Pas? as part of the Argo project.CreditOlivier Dugornay/IFremer/Argo Program
Image
An ocean sensor deployed by the French research ship Pourquoi Pas? as part of the Argo project.CreditOlivier Dugornay/IFremer/Argo Program

But before Argo, researchers relied on temperature sensors that ships lowered into the ocean with copper wire. The wire transferred data from the sensor to the ship for recording until the wire broke and the sensor drifted away.

That method was subject to uncertainties, particularly around the accuracy of the depth at which the measurement was taken. Those uncertainties hamper today’s scientists as they stitch together 20th-century temperature data into a global historical record.

In the new analysis, Mr. Hausfather and his colleagues assessed three recent studies that better accounted for the older instrument biases. The results converged at an estimate of ocean warming that was higher than that of the 2014 United Nations report and more in line with the climate models.

The waters closest to the surface have heated up the most, and that warming has accelerated over the past two decades, according to data from the lead author of the new study, Lijing Cheng of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Beijing.

As the oceans heat up, sea levels rise because warmer water takes up more space than colder water. In fact, most of the sea level rise observed to date is because of this warming effect, not melting ice caps.

Absent global action to reduce carbon emissions, the authors said, the warming alone would cause sea levels to rise by about a foot by 2100, and the ice caps would contribute more. That could exacerbate damages from severe coastal flooding and storm surge.

The effects of the warming on marine life could also have broad repercussions, Dr. Pinsky said. “As the ocean heats up, it’s driving fish into new places, and we’re already seeing that that’s driving conflict between countries,” he said. “It’s spilling over far beyond just fish, it’s turned into trade wars. It’s turned into diplomatic disputes. It’s led to a breakdown in international relations in some cases.”

A fourth study reviewed by the researchers strengthened their conclusions. That study used a novel method to estimate ocean temperatures indirectly, and it also found that the world’s oceans were heating faster thanthe authors of the 2014 study did.

The study initially contained an error that caused its authors to revise their estimates downward. But as it turned out, the downward revision brought the study’s estimates much closer to the new consensus.

“The correction made it agree a lot better with the other new observational records,” Mr. Hausfather said. “Previously it showed significantly more warming than anyone, and that was potentially worrisome because it meant our observational estimates might be problematic. Now their best estimate is pretty much dead-on with the other three recent studies.”

The scientists who published the four studies were not trying to make their results align, Mr. Hausfather said. “The groups who were working on ocean heat observations, they’re not climate modelers,” he said. “They’re not particularly concerned with whether or not their observations agree or disagree with climate models.”

A dead coral reef in waters off Indonesia.CreditEthan Daniels/Stocktrek Images, via Science Source
Image
A dead coral reef in waters off Indonesia.CreditEthan Daniels/Stocktrek Images, via Science Source

Laure Zanna, an associate professor of climate physics at the University of Oxford who was not involved in the study, said the new research was “a very nice summary of what we know of the ocean and how far the new estimates have come together.”

Dr. Zanna published a study this week that used existing data to estimate ocean temperatures dating back to 1871. The goal was to figure out places where sea level rise might happen even faster than expected because of the way ocean currents redistribute heat, allowing regions that are especially at risk to better plan for those changes.

[Here’s more on how the oceans are absorbing most of the planet’s excess heat.]

“We are warming the planet but the ocean is not warming evenly, so different places warm more than others,” Dr. Zanna said. “And so the first consequence will be that sea level will be different in different places depending on the warming.”

Though the new findings provide a grim forecast for the future of the oceans, Mr. Hausfather said that efforts to mitigate global warming, including the 2015 Paris climate agreement, would help. “I think there’s some reason for confidence that we’ll avoid the worst-case outcomes,” he said, “even if we’re not on track for the outcomes we want.”

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

Kendra Pierre-Louis is a reporter on the climate team. Before joining The Times in 2017, she covered science and the environment for Popular Science. @kendrawrites

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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Why American Collapse Is Only Just Beginning
« Reply #63 on: January 18, 2019, 05:32:04 AM »
Why American Collapse Is Only Just Beginning (Not Ending).
Six Megatrends That Will Shape the Future.




There are many beliefs America holds that the rest of the world finds gruesome and strange: guns, capitalism, greed, cruelty. But among these is a new one: that this dark period in American history is an anomaly — and therefore, things will revert to normal. Sorry. American collapse is not an anomaly — it is the very opposite: the culmination of decades-long trends. Those trends, which I’ll discuss in this essay, have not ended — and so collapse has barely only really begun.


Let me begin by dashing your hopes. There’s much talk of a “Blue Wave” — excited and hopeful talk. Alas, when we look closely at the wave of politicians that are to turn the country around, it’s all too easy to see that there is no transformative agenda that unites them — mostly, they stand for minor incremental changes, not exactly a New Bill of Rights. And as they are elected, they will quickly meet the reality of American politics: lobbying dollars which control a two-party system that offers the barest illusion of choice. Would you prefer armed teachers — or merely armies at school? Would you like greed with a sugarcoating — or lethally savage capitalism? And so on. The Blue Wave has as little chance of turning America around as Houdini might actually turning water into wine.

So the longest-running trend in America — that its democracy has long been broken (or never really been much of one at all, if you want to count the inconvenient fact that it was a segregated nation until 1971, which is usually too much reality for most Americans to bear) — can only continue. Today’s noble Blue Wave idealist is tomorrow’s capitulating Obamacrat — they must either compromise, toeing the party line, or they will quickly find themselves powerless, unheard, and invisible. So Blue Wave or no Blue wave — it is quite irrelevant — American political reality means it will simply go on having little chance of gaining working healthcare, higher education, public media, safety nets, or retirement, because it lacks the capacity to create it — though that is precisely what most Americans, by many measures, want.


But they do not just want it. They need it. The average American’s plight is so desperate that people in other rich countries can scarcely comprehend it. Dying from a lack of insulin? The elderly working at Walmart? Less than a week’s pay in savings? It sounds like a dystopian film, not reality. Yet this points to my second megatrend. American incomes have been flat since the 70s — but all the while, the basics of life, all the things above, from retirement to healthcare, have grown in price. First creeping up, and now skyrocketing. Of course, this shatters the average person economic hopes — but it makes those at the top ultra-wealthy. So America’s two great economic megatrends — rising inequality, growing poverty, and an imploding middle class, are likely to bite harder as well.

People who must choose between food and healthcare, of course, enjoy poorer and poorer standards of living. And that is America’s third big trend — a declining real quality of life. America yesterday was an optimistic nation — perhaps falsely so — yet still, there was the sense that eventually, life would get better for “all”, as each generation outdid the last. But now that hope is gone. Life is not getting better — it is getting worse, by the day. Life, however you would like to define it. Life expectancy? Shrinking. Infant mortality? Rising. Loneliness, despair, depression? Spiking. Trust, bonds, relationships? Imploding. American life will go on getting harder, meaner, nastier, crueller, and more dismal in every way — because a decent life, at least to the rest of the world, has become an unaffordable luxury.

What do people whose lives are falling apart do? Well, the first thing they usually do is take it out on each other. Americans have been doing that for a long time now, so much that it is a way of life. This is my fourth megatrend — it is an emotional one: rage, despair, and anxiety as a way of life. Americans will go on taking the bitter anger and grim despair of living in a collapsing society out on each other. After all, they have no way not to — no mental healthcare, universal education, functioning media, or even norms of basic decency anymore. They will go on hurting one another in every imaginable way — destroying each other in hard and soft ways, denying one another retirement, degrading and bullying each other at work and school and play, refusing to invest in the barest bits of society, walking around with machine guns, building tomorrow’s predatory systems, whether Ubers or hedge funds — precisely because there is no way to aspire to anything better, since the political system is broken, and the economy is irreparable.

Because it all seems so hopeless, societies governed by rage and despair also give up on democracy. So we are likely to see a constant “tussle” between authoritarians and the comic Marco Rubio-esque charade that passes for American leadership. But I put “tussle” in quotes for a reason. Authoritarians don’t need a majority — they never have, and that is foolish myth promoted by American intellectuals. It’s enough for fascists and tyrants to capture perhaps 30–40% of a nation to take over its institutions, norms, and future — because that 30% is like a wrecking ball, that can be used to intimidate, bluster, threaten, and bully (as long as the rest is split). That fringe, lunatic 30% now controls America wholesale — not just making any kind of progress not just impossible, but demanding wholesale regress: banning books, taking science out of schools, putting fundamentalist religion into public life, and so forth. That is my fifth megatrend, authoritarianism, and I am sorry to have to tell you that it will not stop with this President — it will continue, gain strength, and shape America for the foreseeable future.

I am sure that by now, perhaps, you find all this quite unbelievable. Ah, but wouldn’t you yourself have said where America is today was absurdly, absolutely impossible even two years ago? Wouldn’t you have laughed if someone had read you today’s headlines then, and cried, “LOL. Get real, dude. No way!!!!!”?

That is my sixth megatrend: ignorance. It is not just American economics, politics, society, and culture which have failed — at a deeper level, American thought has failed. Its intellectuals cannot explain decline, its pundits predict it, its gurus understand it, or its leaders fix it. That is because American ideas became ideologies — capitalism, individualism, aggression, cruelty, rationalism, selfishness, greed — which are all obsolete now. Perhaps they will be needed in some distant future again, though I doubt it — but right now, they are quite useless, because this age of human history demands what is truer in us, whether empathy for suffering, respect for difference, courage to stand naked, intimacy with ourselves. But because those are qualities that can only be nurtured, evoked, and cultivated, not “monetized” and “captured” and bottled and manufactured, American thought simply cannot produce them anymore than all the hedge funds, algorithms, or stock markets in the world can produce even a glimmer of sanity, grace, or wisdom.

And so. American thought will go on thinking that every year that it cannot possibly get much worse — which is what it has done for the last decade — and at every juncture, it will go on being painfully wrong. Collapse is only just beginning in America. The question is not if the broken hearts, minds, and spirits of Americans can hold back the flood — they cannot — but rather, if they can learn, at long last, to see the obvious coming, before it hits them like a freight train.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Eddie

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Re: Why American Collapse Is Only Just Beginning
« Reply #64 on: January 18, 2019, 06:43:18 AM »
Why American Collapse Is Only Just Beginning (Not Ending).
Six Megatrends That Will Shape the Future.




There are many beliefs America holds that the rest of the world finds gruesome and strange: guns, capitalism, greed, cruelty. But among these is a new one: that this dark period in American history is an anomaly — and therefore, things will revert to normal. Sorry. American collapse is not an anomaly — it is the very opposite: the culmination of decades-long trends. Those trends, which I’ll discuss in this essay, have not ended — and so collapse has barely only really begun.


Let me begin by dashing your hopes. There’s much talk of a “Blue Wave” — excited and hopeful talk. Alas, when we look closely at the wave of politicians that are to turn the country around, it’s all too easy to see that there is no transformative agenda that unites them — mostly, they stand for minor incremental changes, not exactly a New Bill of Rights. And as they are elected, they will quickly meet the reality of American politics: lobbying dollars which control a two-party system that offers the barest illusion of choice. Would you prefer armed teachers — or merely armies at school? Would you like greed with a sugarcoating — or lethally savage capitalism? And so on. The Blue Wave has as little chance of turning America around as Houdini might actually turning water into wine.

So the longest-running trend in America — that its democracy has long been broken (or never really been much of one at all, if you want to count the inconvenient fact that it was a segregated nation until 1971, which is usually too much reality for most Americans to bear) — can only continue. Today’s noble Blue Wave idealist is tomorrow’s capitulating Obamacrat — they must either compromise, toeing the party line, or they will quickly find themselves powerless, unheard, and invisible. So Blue Wave or no Blue wave — it is quite irrelevant — American political reality means it will simply go on having little chance of gaining working healthcare, higher education, public media, safety nets, or retirement, because it lacks the capacity to create it — though that is precisely what most Americans, by many measures, want.


But they do not just want it. They need it. The average American’s plight is so desperate that people in other rich countries can scarcely comprehend it. Dying from a lack of insulin? The elderly working at Walmart? Less than a week’s pay in savings? It sounds like a dystopian film, not reality. Yet this points to my second megatrend. American incomes have been flat since the 70s — but all the while, the basics of life, all the things above, from retirement to healthcare, have grown in price. First creeping up, and now skyrocketing. Of course, this shatters the average person economic hopes — but it makes those at the top ultra-wealthy. So America’s two great economic megatrends — rising inequality, growing poverty, and an imploding middle class, are likely to bite harder as well.

People who must choose between food and healthcare, of course, enjoy poorer and poorer standards of living. And that is America’s third big trend — a declining real quality of life. America yesterday was an optimistic nation — perhaps falsely so — yet still, there was the sense that eventually, life would get better for “all”, as each generation outdid the last. But now that hope is gone. Life is not getting better — it is getting worse, by the day. Life, however you would like to define it. Life expectancy? Shrinking. Infant mortality? Rising. Loneliness, despair, depression? Spiking. Trust, bonds, relationships? Imploding. American life will go on getting harder, meaner, nastier, crueller, and more dismal in every way — because a decent life, at least to the rest of the world, has become an unaffordable luxury.

What do people whose lives are falling apart do? Well, the first thing they usually do is take it out on each other. Americans have been doing that for a long time now, so much that it is a way of life. This is my fourth megatrend — it is an emotional one: rage, despair, and anxiety as a way of life. Americans will go on taking the bitter anger and grim despair of living in a collapsing society out on each other. After all, they have no way not to — no mental healthcare, universal education, functioning media, or even norms of basic decency anymore. They will go on hurting one another in every imaginable way — destroying each other in hard and soft ways, denying one another retirement, degrading and bullying each other at work and school and play, refusing to invest in the barest bits of society, walking around with machine guns, building tomorrow’s predatory systems, whether Ubers or hedge funds — precisely because there is no way to aspire to anything better, since the political system is broken, and the economy is irreparable.

Because it all seems so hopeless, societies governed by rage and despair also give up on democracy. So we are likely to see a constant “tussle” between authoritarians and the comic Marco Rubio-esque charade that passes for American leadership. But I put “tussle” in quotes for a reason. Authoritarians don’t need a majority — they never have, and that is foolish myth promoted by American intellectuals. It’s enough for fascists and tyrants to capture perhaps 30–40% of a nation to take over its institutions, norms, and future — because that 30% is like a wrecking ball, that can be used to intimidate, bluster, threaten, and bully (as long as the rest is split). That fringe, lunatic 30% now controls America wholesale — not just making any kind of progress not just impossible, but demanding wholesale regress: banning books, taking science out of schools, putting fundamentalist religion into public life, and so forth. That is my fifth megatrend, authoritarianism, and I am sorry to have to tell you that it will not stop with this President — it will continue, gain strength, and shape America for the foreseeable future.

I am sure that by now, perhaps, you find all this quite unbelievable. Ah, but wouldn’t you yourself have said where America is today was absurdly, absolutely impossible even two years ago? Wouldn’t you have laughed if someone had read you today’s headlines then, and cried, “LOL. Get real, dude. No way!!!!!”?

That is my sixth megatrend: ignorance. It is not just American economics, politics, society, and culture which have failed — at a deeper level, American thought has failed. Its intellectuals cannot explain decline, its pundits predict it, its gurus understand it, or its leaders fix it. That is because American ideas became ideologies — capitalism, individualism, aggression, cruelty, rationalism, selfishness, greed — which are all obsolete now. Perhaps they will be needed in some distant future again, though I doubt it — but right now, they are quite useless, because this age of human history demands what is truer in us, whether empathy for suffering, respect for difference, courage to stand naked, intimacy with ourselves. But because those are qualities that can only be nurtured, evoked, and cultivated, not “monetized” and “captured” and bottled and manufactured, American thought simply cannot produce them anymore than all the hedge funds, algorithms, or stock markets in the world can produce even a glimmer of sanity, grace, or wisdom.

And so. American thought will go on thinking that every year that it cannot possibly get much worse — which is what it has done for the last decade — and at every juncture, it will go on being painfully wrong. Collapse is only just beginning in America. The question is not if the broken hearts, minds, and spirits of Americans can hold back the flood — they cannot — but rather, if they can learn, at long last, to see the obvious coming, before it hits them like a freight train.



That is my sixth megatrend: ignorance. It is not just American economics, politics, society, and culture which have failed — at a deeper level, American thought has failed. Its intellectuals cannot explain decline, its pundits predict it, its gurus understand it, or its leaders fix it. That is because American ideas became ideologies — capitalism, individualism, aggression, cruelty, rationalism, selfishness, greed — which are all obsolete now. Perhaps they will be needed in some distant future again, though I doubt it — but right now, they are quite useless, because this age of human history demands what is truer in us, whether empathy for suffering, respect for difference, courage to stand naked, intimacy with ourselves. But because those are qualities that can only be nurtured, evoked, and cultivated, not “monetized” and “captured” and bottled and manufactured, American thought simply cannot produce them anymore than all the hedge funds, algorithms, or stock markets in the world can produce even a glimmer of sanity, grace, or wisdom.

This certainly resonates with me. But it's more than widespread ignorance.....it's shared ignorance, And even more than that it's shared ignorance re-inforced by the warm fuzzy environment of social media, where stupid people all go to share their favorite delusions with other stupid people.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Surly1

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Re: Why American Collapse Is Only Just Beginning
« Reply #65 on: January 18, 2019, 10:57:26 AM »

That is my sixth megatrend: ignorance. It is not just American economics, politics, society, and culture which have failed — at a deeper level, American thought has failed. Its intellectuals cannot explain decline, its pundits predict it, its gurus understand it, or its leaders fix it. That is because American ideas became ideologies — capitalism, individualism, aggression, cruelty, rationalism, selfishness, greed — which are all obsolete now. Perhaps they will be needed in some distant future again, though I doubt it — but right now, they are quite useless, because this age of human history demands what is truer in us, whether empathy for suffering, respect for difference, courage to stand naked, intimacy with ourselves. But because those are qualities that can only be nurtured, evoked, and cultivated, not “monetized” and “captured” and bottled and manufactured, American thought simply cannot produce them anymore than all the hedge funds, algorithms, or stock markets in the world can produce even a glimmer of sanity, grace, or wisdom.

This certainly resonates with me. But it's more than widespread ignorance.....it's shared ignorance, And even more than that it's shared ignorance re-inforced by the warm fuzzy environment of social media, where stupid people all go to share their favorite delusions with other stupid people.

What is your experience with social media? Are you active on social media, and have your own accounts? Or do you merely look down your nose on the users?

For my part, social media has changed the very way I make my living. It's not my choice; it's the demands of the marketplace. Advertising spend follows eyeballs and consumer attention, and proliferates on social media, whose usage patterns continue to change as I type this.

It's  not enough to say, "social media: bad. Users: idiots." You turn yo0ur back on several generations of users. And I'm older than dirt.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: Why American Collapse Is Only Just Beginning
« Reply #66 on: January 18, 2019, 01:07:36 PM »

That is my sixth megatrend: ignorance. It is not just American economics, politics, society, and culture which have failed — at a deeper level, American thought has failed. Its intellectuals cannot explain decline, its pundits predict it, its gurus understand it, or its leaders fix it. That is because American ideas became ideologies — capitalism, individualism, aggression, cruelty, rationalism, selfishness, greed — which are all obsolete now. Perhaps they will be needed in some distant future again, though I doubt it — but right now, they are quite useless, because this age of human history demands what is truer in us, whether empathy for suffering, respect for difference, courage to stand naked, intimacy with ourselves. But because those are qualities that can only be nurtured, evoked, and cultivated, not “monetized” and “captured” and bottled and manufactured, American thought simply cannot produce them anymore than all the hedge funds, algorithms, or stock markets in the world can produce even a glimmer of sanity, grace, or wisdom.

This certainly resonates with me. But it's more than widespread ignorance.....it's shared ignorance, And even more than that it's shared ignorance re-inforced by the warm fuzzy environment of social media, where stupid people all go to share their favorite delusions with other stupid people.

What is your experience with social media? Are you active on social media, and have your own accounts? Or do you merely look down your nose on the users?

For my part, social media has changed the very way I make my living. It's not my choice; it's the demands of the marketplace. Advertising spend follows eyeballs and consumer attention, and proliferates on social media, whose usage patterns continue to change as I type this.

It's  not enough to say, "social media: bad. Users: idiots." You turn yo0ur back on several generations of users. And I'm older than dirt.

Oh, you know me better than that.

My take on social media started with reading Jaron Lanier.  You Are Not A Gadget

Here's the short version

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/kc_Jq42Og7Q&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/kc_Jq42Og7Q&fs=1</a>

Long version, for those with a longer attention span.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/IwbGumZ-FYg&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/IwbGumZ-FYg&fs=1</a>

I abandoned my FB page after I 1st read JL. I do get tangential contact through my wife, my kids and my stupid Trumpite relatives.

My view was influenced by JL, but it  has evolved a lot based on observation of society, and where the world seems to be going since FB replaced cigarettes as America's favorite addiction.

I am convinced that social media amplifies mass delusions and herd behavior. 
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

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Military buildup in Arctic as melting ice reopens northern borders
« Reply #67 on: January 25, 2019, 04:08:25 AM »
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Military buildup in Arctic as melting ice reopens northern borders


Melting glacier in Svalbard, Norway. Photograph: Goncalo Diniz / Alamy/Alamy

The climate crisis is intensifying a new military buildup in the Arctic, diplomats and analysts said this week, as regional powers attempt to secure northern borders that were until recently reinforced by a continental-sized division of ice.

That so-called unpaid sentry is now literally melting away, opening up shipping lanes and geo-security challenges, said delegates at the Arctic Frontiers conference, the polar circle’s biggest talking shop, who debated a series of recent escalations.

Russia is reopening and strengthening cold war bases on the Kola peninsula in the far north-west of the country. Norway is beefing up its military presence in the high Arctic.

Last October, Nato staged Trident Juncture with 40,000 troops, its biggest military exercise in Norway in more than a decade. A month earlier Britain announced a new “Defence Arctic Strategy” and promised a 10-year deployment of 800 commandos to Norway and four RAF Typhoons to patrol Icelandic skies. The US is also sending hundreds more marines to the region on long-term rotations and has threatened to send naval vessels through Arctic shipping lanes for the first time.

While these strategic moves have echoes of the cold war, the modest buildup falls far short of that era, and there remains a strong spirit of cooperation in many areas. The current tensions are a result of a world warmed by industrial emissions. The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the planet, shrinking sea ice and exposing more water and territory to exploitation and access.

“Right now, the reasons we are seeing more military activity is that countries are worried by the spectre of open water,” one of the speakers, Klaus Dodds, a professor of geopolitics at Royal Holloway, University of London, told the Guardian. “The unique Arctic security architecture has shape and form that come from natural extremities. If the Arctic becomes just another ocean, this breaks down. It’s elemental.”

Trident Juncture exercises.
Norwegian tanks during Trident Juncture exercises on 2 November 2018. Photograph: Frederik Ringnes/Forsvaret/EPA

The Arctic’s unique characteristics are under attack from all sides. Below, the once-frozen ocean is now mixed with warmer, more saline Atlantic waters. In the skies above, the polar vortex above is weakening, allowing intrusions of balmy air currents from the south.

Sea ice is being lost at a rate of more than 10,000 tonnes per second, according to Tore Furevik, a professor at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Bergen. “We’re heading for a new and uncertain Arctic with ramifications for nature and politics,” he said. “We should strive to be less suspicious, less hostile and more open-minded if we are to deal with a problem that we have so recklessly created.”

By 2035, the Arctic is forecast to be free of ice during summer, which will allow ships to sail across the north pole.

Business interest is growing. For the first time, last summer, a Maersk container ship navigated the northern sea route from Asia to Europe carrying fish and electronic goods. Energy companies are exploring new oil and gas fields.

Once remote regions are becoming geopolitical hotspots. Tromsø, in Norway, which hosted the conference, was once a tiny trading post. Today, it’s a tourism hub and a gateway to the mineral-rich north. “Now we have a historically strange situation with political and economic activity in the Arctic. So many people are knocking on our door, including business and state representatives from China, Pakistan, Singapore and Morocco,” the mayor, Kristin Røymo, told the Guardian. “There is also a very obvious increased naval presence.”

This concerns many conference participants, who highlight the peaceful history of cross-border cooperation in the far north. Even during the cold war, there were agreements on fishing, scientific research and reindeer herding that continue today.

Norwegian politicians were at pains to downplay the significance of the current military buildup. “There is no direct link between climate change and conflict,” the former defence minister Espen Barth Eide said. “It’s not because there is an immediate threat, it’s that, as an area becomes more important, it’s natural to have a heightened military presence.”

Tromsø.
Tromsø was once a tiny trading post. Today, it’s a gateway to the mineral-rich north with representatives from China, Pakistan, Singapore and Morocco ‘knocking on the door’, says its mayor. Photograph: Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images

He compared the situation to the South China Sea, where China, the US and other nations compete, not by firing weapons, but by demonstrating capacity and presence. “To some extent that is happening now in the Arctic,” he said, although he stressed there were no territorial disputes to inflame passions.

The build-up is portrayed almost as a form of climate adaptation – strengthening the military presence along with infrastructure affected by melting permafrost.

However, there are tensions. In a keynote speech, the Norwegian foreign minister, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, complained about communications interference by Russia in the far north. She plans to arrange a meeting with the Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, to discuss the allegation. “Most important is to open political dialogue and talk not just about what we agree on but what we do not agree on,” she said.

Norway is also contributing to the climate problem and the strategic tensions. It has just approved a raft of new oil exploration licenses in the Barents Sea and one of its citizens has been caught spying in Russia.

Russia is uneasy about recent Nato exercises that have pushed deep into the north, according to Teimuraz Ramishvili, the ambassador to Norway. He told the Guardian the military modernisation on the Russian side was overdue after 20 years of neglect and its significance should not be overstated.

“In Europe, you have military installations that are used for peaceful purposes. Why it that OK in Europe, but not in Russia?” he asked. He said Moscow put a high priority on the northern region, where the potential was so great that some talk enthusiastically of an “Arctic age”.

“For us, this is a matter of sustainable development of Russian territory. This is not open water, it is Russian territory,” said Ramishvili. “The Arctic isn’t a nature resort. It’s a place where Russians have lived for a long time.”

A polar bear.
A polar bear in the Franklin Strait in the Canadian Arctic. Photograph: David Goldman/AP

Currently, cargo companies that use the northern shipping lanes need to pay Russia. But this will change as the sea ice recedes and Arctic routes open up in international waters. China, which has declared itself a “near-Arctic nation”, is among the countries exploring this area. Last year, it launched a second Snow Dragon ice breaker and released an Arctic white paper that explored the potential for infrastructure investments in a Polar Silk Road.

The US, by comparison, is lagging behind. Although its nuclear submarines have operated under the ice for decades, its surface navy is ill-equipped for the Arctic. “Everyone’s up there but us,” the navy secretary, Richard Spencer, complained last month.

“The threat is back on. This is an area … we need to focus on,” he said. Spencer has called for a strategic Arctic port in Alaska and US naval vessels to conduct navigation operations later this year in northern shipping lanes so they have the capacity to conduct emergency operations if necessary. “Can you imagine a Carnival line cruise ship having a problem, and the Russians do the search and do the extraction?” he said.

The prospect of a US warship sailing near Russia’s vast northern border would certainly amplify unease, as well as highlighting the geopolitical challenges caused by global heating.

Lisa Murkowski, a US senator for Alaska, did not expect the US navy to enter Russian waters, but, considering everything else that is going on, she said any freedom of navigation mission in the region would raise sensitivity.

“It’s important for the US to project military strength, but there should be no intention to be unduly provocative,” she told the conference. The problem, she said, was that the White House had not updated its strategy to deal with a fast-changing region. “Under this administration, we are not assigning a significant priority to our role as an Arctic nation. There is a void,” she said.

Environmentalists at the conference highlighted the dual role of oil in worsening the tension: both as a driver of climate change and of the push for more resource extraction from the still largely pristine Arctic. Norway came under fire for approving 83 new exploration licenses last week, more than a dozen of which were in the Barents Sea.

“The false narrative of this conference is that Arctic countries are doing sustainable development,” said Martin Sommerkorn, head of conservation of the WWF Arctic Programme. “You can’t say that just days after you grant 83 new licenses. That’s completely wrong.”

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Let’s Say I Wanted to Escape Climate Change. Where Should I Go?
« Reply #68 on: February 02, 2019, 05:12:22 AM »
Let’s Say I Wanted to Escape Climate Change. Where Should I Go?

By Eve Andrews, originally published by Grist
  • February 1, 2019

Our readers submit questions to Umbra here, and then vote for the one they most want her to answer. This was the winning question last week.

Q.I am not giving up … but if I were to move, where in the United States could I go to minimize climate disruption?

— Uneasy in a U-Haul

A.Dear Uneasy,

So you want to escape climate change. That’s a reasonable impulse — climate change rivals nuclear war for the greatest threat to human life in the history of our species’ existence. Every survival instinct we’ve cultivated to date should, understandably, make us want to get away from it.

Let’s start by evaluating regions of the U.S. based on the basics of what we expect climate change to bring. We know that the seas will swell and temperatures will go up. So that particularly endangers a host of coastal cities with relatively warm climates, especially in the summer — so MiamiNew OrleansNorfolkWashington D.C.New YorkLos Angeles. A 2017 paper in Nature Climate Change estimated that the 13.1 million people displaced from those cities by sea level rise could head for more inland locales like Atlanta, Houston, and Phoenix.

So there you have it, Uneasy! Let’s all head to Atlanta, Houston, and Phoenix.

But wait a second: Hurricane Harvey gave an alarming preview of how Houston will fare in a climate-changed future. Phoenix is in the middle of a desert with no reliable water source, where temperatures can surge to 120 degrees F in the summer. And Atlanta is the third fastest-warming metropolitan region in the country.

Forget about those cities. What’s a nice, temperate place? Never gets too hot or too cold, has lots of water? Aha — the Pacific Northwest. Umbra’s home! It’s part-rainforest, after all.

But it’s a rainforest that’s seen bigger, hotter, deadlier, and more unpredictable wildfires in recent memory. Even a small increase in temperature has detrimental effects on plant and soil moisture, which will dry out forests and make them into true tinderboxes. And we’ve had warmer winters, which means less snowpack on the mountains and thus a less reliable water source for the region. (Oh, and we’re overdue for a truly devastating earthquake, but that’s separate from climate change.)

Hmmm … how about Alaska? Tons of snow. Really cold. Well, except an increase in average temperatures has already begun to displace thousands of the state’s Native inhabitants along the coast. On top of that, millions of ancient viruses and bacteria to which humans have lost immunity will be unearthed as the permafrost becomes, well, less permanent.

This is hard math. Or maybe hard geography? I called Jesse Keenan, climate-adaptation specialist and a faculty member at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, to get a more informed perspective on where one could limit their exposure to climate change.

His suggestion: places that aren’t dependent on snowpack, ground-level aquifers, or reservoirs for their water. More specifically, that tends to be rural, wooded, northern areas with lots of clean water wells — so the Upper Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan), and maybe parts of Montana. Justin Timberlake was on to something!

But if everyone moves to rural areas, altering the wooded landscape and taxing all those pristine wells, they won’t last long as climate strongholds.

“Well, exactly,” Keenan said. “There’s nowhere you can hide. I think you need to come to terms with what you think you’re running from. Are you trying to beat people to something? Are you trying to run because there’s a hazard and you’re at risk? Are you running because of your health or welfare? Then you need to come to terms with the fact that you’re trying to make an economic investment decision of where you’re trying to put your limited resources.”

Resources, limited or vast, are the crucial factor here. I imagine if you’re posing this question, you have some means to pick up and move. That’s not the case for many people — one might say most people, considering that nearly two-thirds of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings and the average long-distance move costs about $5,000.

But even putting the money aside, moving isn’t a small change. You have to start an entirely new life, build a new social circle. “You can try to move to one of these places,” Keenan said, “but you need to learn the position you’re putting yourself in, and you’ll have to become a part of these new communities.”

Keenan said he gets versions of your question almost daily — usually from “people at big institutional real estate funds, rich people who want to buy land or already own land, or survivalist types.” And acquiring the ability to answer the question “what land will survive climate change?” is already a lucrative endeavor.

Not to wealth-shame you, but the fact that the unholy trifecta of insurance companies, real estate investors, and Silicon Valley is mobilizing on these concerns should give you a bit of pause.

If you recognize that climate change is a huge, terrifying problem, and you have the means to at least try to escape it — why wouldn’t you devote those means to trying to fix it instead, especially if you know it’s impossible to escape? By “fix it,” I mean try to make the place you live, where you’ve made your home, where you have some sense of ownership and responsibility — and oh, let’s call it investment — more resilient to climate change. Maybe agitate for more storm-resistant infrastructuremass transitgreen spaces.

Because the future isn’t for sure, but running away from the problem ensures that it will be.

Permanently,

Umbra

P.S. If you want a preview of how climate change will affect every region of the United States, check out the map my colleagues put together here.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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We broke down what climate change will do, region by region
« Reply #69 on: February 02, 2019, 05:18:04 AM »
We broke down what climate change will do, region by region
Yeah, we read each chapter of the report so you don't have to.




By on Nov 29, 2018

Look, at this point, even the most stubborn among us know that climate change is coming for our asses. We really don’t have much time until the climate plagues we’re already getting previews of — mega-wildfires, rising sea-levels, superstorm after superstorm — start increasing in frequency. The 4th National Climate Assessment says all that and much more is on its way.

Here’s the thing: Not all regions in the U.S. are going to experience climate change in the same way. Your backyard might suffer different climate consequences than my backyard. And, let’s be honest, we need to know what’s happening in our respective spaces so we can be prepared. I’m not saying it’s time to start prepping your bunker, but I would like to know if my family should consider moving to higher ground or stock up on maple syrup.

Luckily, that new report — which Trump tried to bury on Black Friday — breaks down climate change’s likely impacts on 10 specific regions. Unluckily, the chapters are super dense.

Silver lining: We at Grist divvied up the chapters and translated them into news you can actually use.

Northeast

Ahh, the Northeast, home to beautiful autumn leaves, delicious maple syrup, and copious amounts of ticks bearing disease. What’s not to love? A lot, according to this report.

Our region is looking at “the largest temperature increase in the contiguous United States” — 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by the time 2035 rolls around. We’re going to be slammed with the highest rates of sea-level rise in the whole damn country, and we’re going to have the highest rate of ocean warming. Urban centers are particularly at risk (remember Superstorm Sandy?). And if you’re a fan of snuggling up beside the fire in your Connecticut mansion (or whatever), be warned that winters are projected to warm in our region three times faster than summers. That means delayed ski seasons and less time to tap maple trees.

Things are gonna be rough on us humans, but dragonflies and damselflies — two insects literally no one ever thinks about, but that flourish in healthy ecosystems — are pretty much doomed. The report says their habitat could decline by as much as 99 percent by 2080.

Sea-level rise, flooding, and extreme weather poses a mental health threat to Northeasterners. Impacted coastal communities can expect things like “anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.” But it’s not all bad: The assessment portends more intense (read: Instagram-able) fall foliage and more forest growth.

Zoya Teirstein

Southeast

If, like me, you love your filthy, dirty South, you’ll be pleased to hear that summer thunderstorms, skeeters, ticks, and hot, muggy weather aren’t going anywhere! (Actually, don’t be pleased. This is serious.)

Southerners are accustomed to warm days followed by warm nights, but as the heat continues to turn up, those nights just might be our downfall. Urban and rural areas alike can expect to sweat through up to 100 additional warm nights per year by the end of this century. Hot, sticky nights make it harder for us to recover from the heat of the day. This is especially bad in parts of many Southeastern cities, where residents suffer from the “heat island effect.”

“I think it’s really important to look at the heat-related impacts on labor productivity,” says chapter author Kirstin Dow, a social environmental geographer at the University of South Carolina. Under one scenario, the Southeast could see losses of 570 million labor hours, amounting to about $47 billion per year — one-third of the nation’s total loss. What’s more, Dow says, “Those changes are going to take place in counties where there’s already chronic poverty.”

Warming waters will also push the infamous lionfish closer to the Atlantic Coast. In addition to being invasive, this freaky-looking fish is venomous, and swimmers and divers can expect more encounters (and stings) as the climate brings them closer to our beaches.

Claire Elise Thompson

Caribbean

For someone who doesn’t like donning heavy clothing during the winter, the Caribbean has the perfect weather: year-round warm days with ocean breezes. Climate change, according to the report, means we can’t have nice things.

In the near future, the Caribbean will experience longer dry seasons and shorter, but wetter rainy seasons. To make matters worse: During those arid periods, freshwater supplies will be lacking for islanders. And since islands (by definition) aren’t attached to any other land masses, “you can’t just pipe in water,” says Adam Terando, USGS Research Ecologist and chapter author.

The report confirmed something island-dwellers know all too well: Climate change is not coming to the Caribbean — it’s already there. And it’ll only get worse. Disastrous storms the likes of Hurricane Maria — which took the lives of nearly 3,000 Puerto Ricans — are expected to become more common in a warming world.

Another striking result: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are projected to lose 3.6 percent and 4.6 percent of total coastal land area, respectively, posing a threat to critical infrastructure near its shores. The tourism industry will have to grapple with the disappearance of its beaches. Even notable cultural sites aren’t safe: Encroaching seas threaten El Morro — a hulking fortress that sits majestically on the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“Our island is trying to limit its emissions — but we’re not big emitters,” lead chapter author Ernesto L. Diaz, a coastal management expert at Puerto Rico’s Dept. of Natural and Environmental Resources, tells Grist.

Paola Rosa-Aquino

Midwest

What’s in store for the Midwest? Oh hello there, crop diseases and pests! Hold onto your corn husks, because maize yields will be down 5 to 25 percent across the region by midcentury, mostly due to hot temps. And soybean hauls will decline more than 25 percent in the southern Midwest.

Beyond wilting crops, extreme heat puts lives at risk. The Midwest may see the biggest increase in temperature-related deaths compared to other regions, putting everyone from farmworkers to city-dwellers at risk. In one particularly bad climate change scenario, late-21st-century Chicago could end up seeing 60 days per year above 100 degrees F — similar to present-day Las Vegas or Phoenix.

The Great Lakes represent 20 percent of freshwater on the world’s surface, but lately, they’re looking … not so fresh. Climate change and pollution from farms are leading to toxic algae blooms and literally starving the water of oxygen.

But hey, there’s a silver lining. Midwesterners (myself included) have developed a bad habit of leaving their homeland for other parts of the country. That trend may reverse. “The Midwest may actually experience migration into the region because of climate change,” Maria Carmen Lemos, a Midwest chapter author and professor at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, said in a statement. So while you may have to reconsider your ice-fishing plans, Midwesterners, it could be a whole lot worse.

Kate Yoder

Northern Great Plains

The Northern Great Plains is far from any ocean. Water melts off mountain snowpack, slowly trickles down glaciers, and pools up in basins. The largely arid region is dominated by thirsty industries like agriculture, energy extraction, and tourism. There’s a byzantine system of century-old water rights and competing interests.

Or as my dad, a Montana cattle rancher, puts it: “Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting.”

Residents might want to steel themselves with a little bourbon as climate change will escalate those water woes, according to the report. Winters will end earlier and snow could decline as much as 25 to 40 percent in the mountainous regions.

It’s not just some far-off problem for cross-country skiers and thirsty critters. The authors point to the behavior of the mountain pine beetle as one example of a climate-influenced tweak that’s had devastating impact. Warmer winters and less precipitation have enabled the bugs to kill off huge swaths of forest in the region.

Lest you think what happens in the Dakotas stays in the Dakotas: While only 1.5 percent of the U.S. population lives in this region, it contributes nearly 13 percent of the country’s agricultural market value.

It’s culturally critical, too: The area is home to 27 federally recognized tribes that are already experiencing climate threats such as a lack of access to safe water and declining fisheries.

Darby Minow Smith

Southern Great Plains

The Southern Great Plains flips between heat waves, tornadoes, drought, ice storms, hurricanes, and hail. The weather is “dramatic and consequential” according to the report. It’s “a terrible place to be a hot tar roofer,” according to me, a former Kansas roofer. In a warmed world, none of this improves. Well, maybe the ice storms.

The region will continue to have longer and hotter summers, meaning more drought. Portions of the already shrinking Ogallala Aquifer, which is critical to a huge western swath of the region, could be completely depleted within 25 years, according to the report.

Texas’ Gulf Coast will face sea-level rise, stronger hurricanes, and an expanded range of tropical, mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and Zika. It’ll also experience more intense floods. Many of the region’s dams and levees are in need of repair and aren’t equipped for the inundations.

One of the chapter’s lead authors, Bill Bartush, a conservation coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, tells Grist that how landowners handle the extremes of water management will be key to climate adaptation. Given the region’s high rates of private land ownership, it’s essential to get them on board.

In weirder news, the region’s Southern Flounder population is declining because the fish’s sex is determined by water temperature. Warmer winters mean more males. It’s like a terrible reboot of Three Men and a Baby, but with more flounder and no baby.

Daniel Penner

Northwest

The Pacific Northwest has more rain in its winter forecast. That might not sound unusual for a region known for its wet weather, but more winter rain — as opposed to snow — could impact the region’s water supply and entire way of life.

Most of the Northwest relies on melting mountain snow for water during the summer. Climate change will replace more of that snow with rain, which flows downstream right away rather than being stored on mountainsides until the temperatures warm. Less snowmelt during hot summers could damage salmon habitat, dry out farms, harm the region’s outdoor industry, and increase wildfire risk.

“It’s like our tap is on all the time,” said Heidi Roop, a research scientist at the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group, which helped author the chapter.

The report forecasts a lot of change in the Northwest, including flooding and landslides. But rainy winters? That’s one thing that’s not going away anytime soon.

Jesse Nichols

Southwest

“I am large. I contain multitudes,” Walt Whitman said of himself. But he could have very well said it of the Southwest, where stretches of desert give way to soaring, snow-capped mountains. Yet this might not be the case for long. Climate change threatens all of this beautiful ecological diversity, as well as the 60 million people who call this area home, including 182 tribal nations.

The hottest and driest corner of the country is already suffering from heat waves, droughts, and increased wildfires. As a result, the Southwest, to put it bluntly, is running out of water. With water at already record low levels and a population that continues to grow, the region is working on a recipe for water scarcity.

“Lake Mead, which provides drinking water to Las Vegas and water for agriculture in the region, has fallen to its lowest level since the filling of the reservoir in 1936 and lost 60 percent of its volume,” coordinating chapter author Patrick Gonzalez, a climate scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, tells Grist.

In the coming years, temperatures in this region will soar. Droughts, including megadroughts lasting 10 years, will become commonplace. Agriculture will take a steep hit, causing food insecurity. Expect those lovely desert sunsets to take on an unsettling pink, as the snow-capped mountains grow bald.

Greta Moran

Alaska

In Alaska, water is life, life is shellfish, shellfish is power. But, alas, climate change is about to do a number on the state’s marine life, food webs, and species distributions. According to the climate assessment, ocean acidification is expected to disrupt “corals, crustaceans, crabs, mollusks,” as well as “Tanner and red king crab and pink salmon.” Lots of indigenous peoples rely on that variety of marine life.

The largest state in the country is already ground zero for climate change. Thawing permafrost means structures are literally sinking into the ground all over the state.

What does a temperature increase really mean? Well, under the worst-case scenario, the coldest nights of the year are projected to warm 12 DEGREES F by midcentury.

I know I said water, either frozen or liquid, is the name of the game in Alaska, but the report says the state should expect more wildfires in the future, too. Under a high-temperature-increase scenario, as much as 120 million acres could burn between 2006 and 2100. That’s an area larger than California.

Oh yeah, and the report says there’s going to be an increase in “venomous insects.” Cheers.

Zoya Teirstein

Hawaii and the Pacific Islands

This region houses 1.9 million people, 20 indigenous languages, countless endemic (one-of-a-kind) flora and fauna species, and the freaking Mariana Trench (the world’s deepest point).

Pacific island communities can expect to grapple with the usual climate change suspects: rising sea levels, weird rainfall patterns, drought, flooding, and extreme temperatures. But all those things have unique implications for supplies of island drinking water. In short, like those who live in the Caribbean, these communities’ ability to survive depends on protecting their fresh water.

Extremes in the weather patterns El Niño and La Niña could double in the 21st century, compared to the previous one. El Ninos bring drought, which means Pacific communities have to desalinate water to make up for dwindling rainfall. But rising sea levels contaminate groundwater supplies and aquifers, which basically means Pacific Islanders have it coming from all sides.

Wait, there’s more. Too much freshwater is bad, too. Under a higher-warming scenario, rainfall in Hawaii could increase by 30 percent in wet areas by the end of the century. Think that’s good for dry areas? Think again! Projections suggest rainfall decreases of up to 60 percent in those. So more rain where rain isn’t needed and less rain where it’s dry. Great.

To end things on a sad note — because why the hell not — the National Climate Assessment states that “nesting seabirds, turtles and seals, and coastal plants” are going to be whacked by climate change. :(

Zoya Teirstein

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: We broke down what climate change will do, region by region
« Reply #70 on: February 02, 2019, 06:19:07 AM »
"In Alaska, water is life, life is shellfish, shellfish is power. But, alas, climate change is about to do a number on the state’s marine life, food webs, and species distributions. According to the climate assessment, ocean acidification is expected to disrupt “corals, crustaceans, crabs, mollusks,” as well as “Tanner and red king crab and pink salmon.” Lots of indigenous peoples rely on that variety of marine life."

Well, at least for this year we still get to enjoy some fabulous Alaska King Crab for the Diner 7th Anniversary Dinner!  :icon_sunny:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/g6h0fTYRQ8g" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/g6h0fTYRQ8g</a>

RE
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Nature Conservancy survey finds Hawaii island reefs recovering
« Reply #71 on: February 02, 2019, 11:53:01 AM »

Nearly four years ago, coral reefs on the west side of the Big Island experienced the worst bleaching event in the state’s history.

The Nature Conservacy has some good news: Those reefs appear to be recovering.

“Bleaching events like what occurred in 2015 can overstress a coral reef to the point where it may never recover,” said Eric Conklin, director of marine science for TNC’s Hawaii program, in a news release. “We surveyed over 14,000 coral colonies at 20 sites along the West Hawaii coast from Kawaihae to Keauhou and were thrilled to see that many of the area’s reefs have stabilized, which is the first step toward recovery.”


https://www.staradvertiser.com/2019/01/24/hawaii-news/nature-conservancy-survey-finds-hawaii-island-reefs-recovering/
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Ruined crops, salty soil: How rising seas are poisoning North Carolina’s farmland


East Carolina University graduate students Trevor Burns, left, and Tyler Palochak check groundwater monitoring equipment on a farm near Engelhard, N.C., in January. (Eamon Queeney/for The Washington Post)

MIDDLETOWN, N.C. — The salty patches were small, at first — scattered spots where soybeans wouldn’t grow, where grass withered and died, exposing expanses of bare, brown earth.

But lately those barren patches have grown. On dry days, the salt precipitates out of the mud and the crystals make the soil sparkle in the sunlight. And on a damp and chilly afternoon in January, the salt makes Dawson Pugh furrow his brow in dismay.

“It’s been getting worse,” the farmer tells East Carolina University hydrologist Alex Manda, who drove out to this corner of coastal North Carolina with a group of graduate students to figure out what’s poisoning Pugh’s land — and whether anything can be done to stop it.

Of climate change’s many plagues — drought, insects, fires, floods — saltwater intrusion in particular sounds almost like a biblical curse. Rising seas, sinking earth and extreme weather are conspiring to cause salt from the ocean to contaminate aquifers and turn formerly fertile fields barren. A 2016 study in the journal Science predicted that 9 percent of the U.S. coastline is vulnerable to saltwater intrusion — a percentage likely to grow as the world continues to warm. Scientists are just beginning to assess the potential effect on agriculture, Manda said, and it’s not yet clear how much can be mitigated.

“We spend a lot of time and money to try to prevent salt,” Pugh says. “I worry what the future is. If it keeps getting worse, will it be worth farming?”

Iffarmers in coastal areas have any hope of protecting their land — and their livelihoods — the first step is to disentangle the complex web of causes that can send ocean water seeping into the ground beneath their feet.


East Carolina University graduate students use a probe to check the chemistry of water in a ditch on the farm. (Eamon Queeney/for The Washington Post)
Alex Manda, a hydrologist at East Carolina University, sets up a weather station as part of the effort to determine what’s happening to coastal farmland. (Eamon Queeney/for The Washington Post)
Sensors lay on the ground beside a nest of scientific wells as Manda’s graduate students from East Carolina University study the groundwater. (Eamon Queeney/for The Washington Post)

With that goal in mind, Pugh, Manda and Andrea Gibbs, the local agriculture agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, convened at the edge of Pugh’s saltiest field on a recent blustery afternoon.

Pugh, 41, has spent his adult life growing soybeans, corn and cotton in North Carolina’s “blacklands,” where the dark and fertile soil is a legacy of nutrient-rich swamps that were drained to make the region arable. His father farmed here in Hyde County before him, and his grandfather before that. Pugh felt he was prepared for the challenges he would face with the brackish Pamlico Sound within spitting distance and just the thin sandy barrier of the Outer Banks between his farmland and the open ocean.

But lately, the problems have become relentless. Hyde County has been part of a declared disaster zone during four of the past five years, Gibbs says. Heavy rainfall and strong winds have caused millions of dollars in damage. Hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Florence in 2018 brought several feet of storm surge that inundated the area with seawater.

Although Pugh and Gibbs demur when asked what they think is behind the recent disasters, ­science suggests that climate change plays a major role. Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that sea levels near Pamlico Sound are rising at a rate of 4.4 millimeters per year — equivalent to nearly 1.5 feet over the next century. Other research has shown that warmer oceans make Atlantic hurricanes wetter, slower and more intense, resulting in more catastrophic storms like Florence.

Whatever the cause, both Pugh and Gibbs are anxious to find a solution. Pugh estimates that recent flooding — and the associated salinization — cost him $2 million in lost crops over the past five years. Last year, the field where Manda is now working became so pockmarked with barren patches Pugh stopped planting it altogether.

“No point in spending the money,” he says, “or the seed.”

“What percentage is like this?” Gibbs asks.

Pugh shrugs. “It’s hard to say. Five percent? Maybe more.”

And the barren patches may be growing. Most of the 4,000 acres that Pugh farms were inundated during Florence. “Just about every­thing was underwater for as far as you can see both ways,” he says.

Gibbs, who tested salinity levels in this field after the storm, says the results scared her.

“The numbers that were on that sheet —” she trails off. “You shouldn’t be able to grow anything in that.”

In the months after the storm, Manda and his students placed an array of scientific instruments in Pugh’s abandoned field: wells to monitor groundwater, probes that take salinity measurements at 10-minute intervals. On this winter day, they install a weather station, which will keep track of rain and wind.

“Right now, we’re just collecting as much data as possible,” Manda tells Pugh.


Farmer Dawson Pugh in one of his fields. “If we have another year or two like the past five,” he says, “not only will I not be farming. A lot of us won’t.” (Eamon Queeney/for The Washington Post)
Rachel Wheatley, an East Carolina University graduate student, takes notes as Pugh talks about his land. (Eamon Queeney/for The Washington Post)
A monitoring well on Pugh’s land. The salinity of the groundwater has surprised scientists. (Eamon Queeney/for The Washington Post)

Though it’s known that saltwater intrusion is linked to sea-level rise caused by climate change, scientists aren’t certain exactly how salt winds up in farmers’ fields. One hypothesis is that strong winds may blow salt water from the sound into the canals and ditches that crisscross the county, which then leak into the soil. Another possibility is that the salt was left behind by storm-surge events and simply takes a long time to wash away.

Or maybe the problem goes even deeper. Scientists are increasingly concerned that rising sea levels are shifting the “zone of transition” — the underground gradient where fresh groundwater meets salty seawater. This issue may be compounded by the slow sinking of North Carolina’s coastal plain since the end of the last ice age about 12,000 years ago.

It’s only through continued monitoring that Manda and his colleagues will figure out which of their theories is right.

A group of students returns from testing the water in a nearby ditch. “Two point seven,” they report — the liquid contains 2.7 grams of salt per thousand grams.

“That’s concerning,” Manda replies. Typical salinity levels for fresh water are below 0.5 parts per thousand.

The salinity of the ground­water — the fluid found in the cracks and spaces in the soil beneath their feet — is even higher. The researchers’ readings turn up numbers of five parts per thousand, six parts per thousand, nine parts per thousand — far above the recommended level for farming.

“The results are peculiar,” says Manda, who had expected to find that the salty water was coming from the ditch. If the ground­water is more saline than the canals, that suggests the salt is seeping up from below.

“From a science perspective, it’s fascinating,” Manda says — the unexpected results suggest the possibility of learning something new. “But from a farmer’s perspective, what can you do about it?”

Dykes and pumps can be used to hold back floodwaters from an encroaching ocean — Pugh has built some on his land. But little can be done to stop the slow mixing of fresh and salty water underground.

Looking on as Manda and his students collect their samples, Pugh thinks about the flood­waters that sat on his fields for days after Florence. He still doesn’t know how badly the storm surge damaged his soil, or how the lingering salt might affect the crops he plants this spring.

“Hopefully this next round of samples will tell us,” he says.

But no one can tell him what this summer holds, let alone what kind of devastation the next hurricane season will bring.

“If we have another year or two like the past five,” Pugh tells Gibbs, “not only will I not be farming. A lot of us won’t.”

“I know,” she says sympathetically. “But you’re a good farmer.”

Pugh gives her a nod. “Thank you.”

“Just had some bad weather,” she says. Then, in a tone of pure hope, she adds: “But not this year. It’s gonna be good this year.”

Pugh claps her on the shoulder. “That’s the optimism of a farmer.”


East Carolina University graduate students walk across a field to take readings from scientific wells as they study the groundwater. (Eamon Queeney/for The Washington Post)
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

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