A record fire-storm in Canada fueled by record warmth. Record ice-melt in Greenland and the Arctic sea, driven by off-the-charts warmth in the far north. And, NASA reported Friday, we’ve just been through the hottest April and the hottest January-April on record — by far.
Last month smashed the record for hottest April, as this chart of NASA data (via Rahmstorf) shows:
How big a jump was April 2016 compared to the historical record? In an email, Stefan Rahmstorf, Head of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, notes that “The margin by which April beats the previous record April is three times larger (0.24 °C) than the margin of any previous record April (biggest was 0.08 °C).”
Also, this has easily been the hottest January-April on record, which isn’t a surprise given that last month’s record was hot on the heels of the hottest March on record by far, which followed the hottest February on record by far, and hottest January on record by far.
Dr. Gavin Schmidt, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, points out on twitter that there is a pattern between how hot Jan-April is and how hot the full year is. He notes that if this pattern holds, then there is a greater than 99% chance that 2016 will be the hottest year on record. (Note: The chart below uses a different temperature scale than the previous chart: It compares recent temperatures to the preindustrial average rather than 1950 to 1981).
April was the warmest such month on record for the globe, and yet again, we saw a near-record large margin compared to average, according to NASA data released Saturday.
The record all but assures that 2016 will set another milestone for the warmest calendar year in NASA’s database, regardless of whether the rest of this year sees comparatively cooler global temperatures.
During each of the past seven months, global average surface temperatures have exceeded the 20th century average by more than 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
Until October, that 1-degree threshold had not been crossed since NASA’s global temperature records began in 1880.
http://democracynow.org – President Obama has just passed a little-noticed milestone, according to The New York Times: Obama has now been at war longer than any president in U.S. history—longer than George W. Bush, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Obama has taken military action in at least seven countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Just last month, President Obama announced the deployment of 250 more Special Operations troops to Syria in a move that nearly doubles the official U.S. presence in the country. As war spreads across the globe, a record 60 million people were driven from their homes last year. Experts warn the refugee crisis may also worsen due to the impacts of global warming. Over the weekend, NASA released data showing 2016 is on pace to be by far the hottest year ever, breaking the 2015 record. Meanwhile, many fear a new nuclear arms race has quietly begun, as the United States, Russia and China race to build arsenals of smaller nuclear weapons. These multiple crises come as voters in the United States prepare to elect a new president. We speak with one of the world’s preeminent intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught for more than 50 years. His latest book is titled “Who Rules the World?”
Washington State: 52 Arrested Blockading Tracks to Oil Refineries
May 16, 2016 Headlines
Protests against the oil, gas and coal industries erupted across multiple continents over the weekend as part of the global campaign to “break free from fossil fuels.” In Washington state, 52 people were arrested after blockading railroad tracks leading to two oil refineries. Protesters pitched their tents on the tracks and occupied the BNSF Railway tracks from Friday afternoon until police broke up the encampment early Sunday. Ahmed Gaya spoke out on Saturday.
Ahmed Gaya: “This has been one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever been a part of in my life, I have to say. We need to break the grip of fossil fuels on our economy. World leaders agree that to have a stable climate we need to limit temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius. There is no current plan anywhere in the world to do that. The only thing that has been proven time and time again to bring about rapid and massive social change are mass disobedient movements.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of “kayaktivists” took to the waters around the Shell and Tesoro refineries. They displayed a banner in front of the refineries that read “Transition Together.” Liz Lafferty spoke out about why she decided to take to the waters.
Liz Lafferty: “I’m here today because for the last hundred years we’ve been spending our children’s children’s resources. And it’s been an insane act on our part to take resources that really belong to future generations, and spend them as if we can replace them, because they’re irreplaceable resources. So I’m out here. And the other reason I’m out here is because for democracy to work, you have to have an informed populace. And we’ve been asleep, I’ve been asleep, for too long.”
New York: Thousands Converge on Albany to Protest Oil “Bomb Trains”
May 16, 2016
Meanwhile, across the country from Washington state, in upstate New York, thousands of people converged on the Port of Albany to protest shipments of explosive crude oil by rail in so-called bomb trains. The trains pass just yards behind the Ezra Prentice public housing complex in the New York state capital. Albany Councilmember Vivian Kornegay spoke about the action.
Vivian Kornegay: “People have come to us from Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, even Maryland, to be one unified voice with this small community. And small communities across the country are getting together to make one unified voice and have that one unified voice heard from where we are today, here in Albany, or wherever else these protests are happening, to the White House, to let them know that small communities are impacted and affected, and we are not going to go away until you hear from us and hear that we want and deserve to have safe communities. We deserve to be able to breathe clean air, drink clean water and have our children be safe and free from the backdrop of an oil train when they play in the playground.”
As part of the actions in Albany Saturday, many protesters sat down on the train tracks and occupied them for hours. In the early afternoon, two climbers suspended themselves from a railroad bridge, blockading a train from North Dakota carrying crude oil. At least five people were arrested, including the two climbers—Marisa Shea and Maeve McBride. McBride described their action.
Maeve McBride: “Marisa and I and another team of folks were able to drop a line over a railroad bridge this afternoon and stop mainline traffic and an oil train that was heading from essentially western New York down. We just got our arraignment, and the last thing the judge said to us when we left was ‘Thanks for coming out.'”
Germany: More Than 100 Arrested at Coal Protest Amid Global Wave of Actions
May 16, 2016
Protests against fossil fuels and the impacts of climate change were also held over the weekend from New Zealand to South Africa; from Nigeria, where residents demanded a cleanup of the Niger Delta, to Brazil; from Turkey to Denver, Colorado, to Ecuador, where participants planted trees on a future oil refinery site to protest drilling in Yasuní National Park. Demonstrators converged in Los Angeles; Vancouver, Canada; West Java, Indonesia, where they dropped banners from machinery used to unload coal; Chicago; and Washington, D.C. In Germany, more than 100 people were arrested after thousands gathered to shut down one of Europe’s largest lignite coal mines for two days. The protesters blocked rail access and made their way onto the grounds of a coal-fired power station.
Shell Spills 90,000 Gallons of Oil into Gulf of Mexico
May 16, 2016 Headlines
In another reminder of the fossil fuel industry’s impact, a Shell oil facility spilled about 90,000 gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. Authorities say the spill has been contained and cleanup is underway.
Last Month was the Hottest April Ever—by a Record Margin
May 16, 2016 Headlines
And in the latest sign of human-induced climate change driven by the fossil fuel industry, last month marked the hottest April on record worldwide, crushing the previous high by the widest margin to date. It was the seventh month in a row to break global temperature records.
OOPS. We really didn’t mean to, but we seem to have broken the planet. Is there anything we can do to make it better?
Climate change is already upon us, melting ice, killing forests and making floods and heatwaves more intense. Meanwhile, global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases continue to increase, promising far worse to come. Even if we stopped all emissions tomorrow, temperatures would keep rising for decades, with potentially catastrophic consequences ranging from famines to rapid sea-level rise.
So perhaps it is time to get serious about the audacious idea of geoengineering. The hope is that by deliberately tinkering with our planet’s climate machine, we might be able to fix our gargantuan blunder, or at least avoid some of the most serious consequences, or just buy ourselves a bit more time to cut emissions.
In financial news, the world’s top 25 hedge fund managers earned a staggering $13 billion last year. This means that only 25 men earned more than the entire economies of some countries, including Nicaragua and the Bahamas. Two men—Kenneth Griffin of Citadel and James Simons of Renaissance Technologies—each earned $1.7 billion last year. Both men have poured millions into the 2016 presidential race backing Republican candidates who have since dropped out. Simons is now backing Hillary Clinton, with more than $2 million in donations so far. Griffin has also been a major supporter of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He was the biggest donor to Emanuel’s 2015 re-election campaign and has been quoted as saying that instead of closing 50 Chicago public schools, Mayor Emanuel should have closed 125 schools across Chicago.
This multi-contributor, international volume synthesizes contributions from the world’s leading soil scientists and ecologists, describing cutting-edge research that provides a basis for the maintenance of soil health and sustainability. The book covers these advances from a unique perspective of examining the ecosystem services produced by soil biota across different scales – from biotic interactions at microscales to communities functioning at regional and global scales. The book leads the user towards an understanding of how the sustainability of soils, biodiversity, and ecosystem services can be maintained and how humans, other animals, and ecosystems are dependent on living soils and ecosystem services.
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
This weblog explores the transition to a sustainable future on our finite planet. It provides links to current news, key documents from government sources and non-governmental organizations, as well as video documentaries about climate change, environmental ethics and environmental justice concerns.
The links are listed here to be used in whatever manner they may be helpful in public information campaigns, course preparation, teaching, letter-writing, lectures, class presentations, policy discussions, article writing, civic or Congressional hearings and citizen action campaigns, etc. For further information on this blog see: About this weblog. and How to use this weblog.
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