Daily Archives: March 12, 2016

Humans Are Creating A World-Wide Mosquito Ranch In What Could Be The Hottest Year On Record | Bill McKibben

March 10, 2016     Tori Bedford

It’s the earth’s perfect retribution, and it’s happening much faster than scientists predicted. Humans have finally pumped just enough pollutants into the atmosphere to create an environment perfect for their greatest enemy: the common mosquito.

According to environmentalist Bill McKibben, 2015 was the hottest year on record, and 2016 is shaping up to be even hotter. Earlier this month, the satellite temperature-sensing system showed the average temperature across the entire Northern hemisphere rose by two degrees Celsius, breaking the record. “[That’s
the] temperature figure that the world has set as its red line for where we can’t go,” McKibben said in an interview with Boston Public Radio, “the one thing that the world has really agreed on about climate change.”

Two degrees may not matter on a small scale, but according to McKibben, breaking this record is a big deal in terms of climate change. “What happens in any given place on any given day is weather,” he said. “But what happens, measured across the whole planet, is climate. This is a huge system. Think how big the earth is, think how much extra heat it would take the budge its temperature up by two degrees, that’s the kind of extra heat you get when you pour enough carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.”

Big climate agreements and things signed in Paris may be coming up a day late and a dollar short, or really a decade or two late and billions of dollars short.

Extra heat means hot weather, and hot weather means more mosquitoes. More mosquitoes mean more disease, including the Zika virus and Dengue Fever, both of which McKibben says are spreading quickly, due to climate change. “A warm, wet world, which is what we’re building, is kind of a mosquito ranch,” McKibben said. “One of the reasons that the Zika virus has spread so fast is that the mosquito that spreads it, primarily, Aedes aegypti, has spread very rapidly,” he said. “Zika follows the very rapid spread of Dengue in the last decade around the planet, [it’s the] same mosquito.”

The “red line” McKibben refers to is a level agreed upon at the UN Paris Climate Change Conference. “We haven’t broken it for the entire planet, and we haven’t broken it permanently, but this is the first time, even for a day, that we’ve nudged across it,” McKibben said. “It’s a sign that change is coming, so much faster than people had hoped. In a sense, it makes it look like the big climate agreements and things signed in Paris may be coming up a day late and a dollar short, or really a decade or two late and billions of dollars short.”

According to McKibben, The idea that we can prepare for the disastrous effects of global warming is severely overdue—the consequences are happening now. A few weeks back, tropical cyclone Winston hit Fiji, with the highest wind speed ever measured in the Southern hemisphere. “That’s the kind of record wind speed that’s possible because these storms draw their power from the heat in the oceans, which are at unprecedented temperatures,” McKibben said. “That followed by about six months, incidentally, the highest wind speed ever measured in our hemisphere, Hurricane Patricia, which crashed into Mexico last autumn.”

The damage in Fiji was drastic. “There are still six or severe percent of the population homeless, at least 10 percent of the GDP was wiped out,” McKibben said, “which in economic terms was the equivalent of about 15 simultaneous Hurricane Katrinas.”

Currently, earth is approaching an El Niño, or a warm phase associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific ocean. “It looks like we’re at the moment of a kind of step-change, when these systems are going to jump up,” McKibben said. “El Niños are always warmer, but this El Niño on the back of all this global warming seems to be liberating huge amounts of heat from the ocean, where it’s been stored for the last 10 or 15 years, as heat has accumulated on our planet.”

Meanwhile, as climate change continues to cause natural disasters and hurt humans, mosquitoes prevail. And how should we prepare for our dystopian future in Planet Mosquito? “That’s almost a science fiction story if you think about it,” Mckibben said. “Five governments now, their health ministers have told women to avoid getting pregnant, not to have children. That’s got to be the first time that ever happened in human history.”

Bill McKibben is the founder of the climate campaign 350.org, and the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College. To hear his full interview with Boston Public Radio, click on the audio link above.

Innovation Hub | Great Minds, Great Conversations | Global Warming’s New Reality | Bill McKibben | Dan Schrag

Kara Miller August 18, 2012


This year we’ve seen what many experts agree are real symptoms of global warming – from fires in Colorado to drought that now blankets more than 60% of the country. And this July was the hottest ever for those of us in the lower 48.

Except that it wasn’t just July. The average temperature from last summer to this summer is hotter than any 12 month period on record in the U.S.

So, what’s going on here?

We dive into the science – and the politics – with author and activist Bill McKibben and Harvard’s Dan Schrag.

environment, global warming, climate change, Daniel Schrag, Bill McKibben, Green

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Five years on, cleanup of Fukushima’s reactors remains a distant goal

Removal of nuclear fuel from power plant that suffered triple meltdown following 2011 tsunami could take 40 years or more

A Tokyo Electric Power Company employee, wearing a protective suit and a mask, walks in front of the No 1 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Photograph: Toru Hanai/Associated Press

Justin McCurry in Fukushima

Thursday 10 March 2016 19.00 EST Last modified on Friday 11 March 2016 05.28 EST

In the chaotic two years after its name became forever associated with nuclear disaster, the Fukushima Daiichi power plant “resembled a field hospital”, according to the man who is now in charge of the most daunting task the nuclear industry has ever faced: removing hundreds of tons of melted fuel from the plant’s stricken reactors.

“Now it really does feel like the situation is settling down and we can look ahead,” said Naohiro Masuda, head of decommissioning at the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco).

Five years after a magnitude nine earthquake triggered a giant tsunami that killed almost 19,000 people along the north-east coast of Japan and caused a triple meltdown at Fukushima, the plant has been transformed from the scene of a major disaster into a sprawling building site.

Masuda can point to lower radiation levels in and around the plant, better conditions for its 1,200 Tepco staff and 6,000 other workers – including the recent provision of hot meals and a rest area – and progress in containing huge quantities of radioactive groundwater.

In late 2014, the utility overcame arguably the most dangerous challenge since the meltdown, with the removal of hundreds of spent fuel rods from a storage pool inside a damaged reactor building.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

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Full Show 3/11/16: Fukushima Five Years Later

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Scaling Up Community Resilience in the Shadow of Chevron – with Doria Robinson of Urban Tilth

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US technology seeks to link human activity to extreme weather conditions

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