Daily Archives: February 2, 2017

Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002)

Stephen Jay Gould is among the best known and widely read scientists of our present generation. A paleontologist by strict profession, Gould is perhaps better recognized for his contributions to evolutionary theory and the philosophy and history of science. He currently holds the position of Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, and Professor of Geology at Harvard University, and is also curator for Invertebrate Paleontology at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.

The author of 300 consecutive essays for his monthly column “This View of Life” in Natural History magazine, Gould has also penned over 20 best-selling books, and has written nearly a thousand scientific papers. In addition, he has received numerous awards including the MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, the prestigious Medal of Edinburgh, and the Silver National Medalm of the Zoology Society of London.

(read more details about Stephen Jay Gould’s life and work).

Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet: Big coastal cities sink faster than seas rise

The ruins of a Civil War-era structure, Fort Beauregard, lie partially submerged east of New Orleans. Researchers say many large coastal cities around the world sink faster than sea levels rise. Credit: Frank McMains.

By Pat Brennan, News | September 1, 2016

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
While the threat of rising seas is well established, a phenomenon that is, in a sense, its opposite receives far fewer headlines: large coastal cities sinking faster than oceans can rise.

That is the conclusion of a review article published by a team of scientists who recently assembled in New Orleans, La., and in Venice, Italy, to examine the problem. Extraction of groundwater or fossil fuels, and sometimes simply generations of farming, are causing large metropolitan areas in coastal zones around the world to subside surprisingly quickly—making the relative rise of adjacent seas an even greater potential hazard.

“Sea level rise is a problem, and subsidence is a huge problem, too,” said Cathleen Jones, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena who specializes in such hazards and is a member of the New Orleans team.

“There are areas where it is happening more rapidly than sea level rise,” she said. “I think it is not fully appreciated how much greater subsidence is in some of these areas, and how much it contributes to the loss of wetlands.”

Rapid subsidence makes many of these areas more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially those at elevations less than 10 meters (33 feet) above sea level. Several of these qualify as “megacities,” with populations greater than 10 million.

The most threatened: large river deltas, home to an estimated 500 million people. The fastest subsidence rate, 250 millimeters or nearly 10 inches per year, was seen in China’s Huanghe Delta. Southeast Asia saw 30 to 60 millimeters (1.2 to 2.4 inches) per year, while Katrina-ravaged portions of New Orleans saw rates as high as 35 millimeters (1.4 inches) per year.

Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet: Short-lived greenhouse gases cause centuries of sea-level rise

By Jennifer Chu,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Researchers report that warming from short-lived compounds — greenhouse gases such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons, that linger in the atmosphere for just a year to a few decades — can cause sea levels to rise for hundreds of years after the pollutants have been cleared from the atmosphere.

Even if there comes a day when the world completely stops emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, coastal regions and island nations will continue to experience rising sea levels for centuries afterward, according to a new study by researchers at MIT and Simon Fraser University.

In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers report that warming from short-lived compounds — greenhouse gases such as methane, chlorofluorocarbons, or hydrofluorocarbons, that linger in the atmosphere for just a year to a few decades — can cause sea levels to rise for hundreds of years after the pollutants have been cleared from the atmosphere.

“If you think of countries like Tuvalu, which are barely above sea level, the question that is looming is how much we can emit before they are doomed. Are they already slated to go under, even if we stopped emitting everything tomorrow?” says co-author Susan Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT. “It’s all the more reason why it’s important to understand how long climate changes will last, and how much more sea-level rise is already locked in.”

…(read more).

Rising Threat to Chemical Corridor

The Weather Channel Posted: Feb 2 2017 01:02 PM EDT Updated: Feb 2 2017 02:38 PM EDT

The project rise in sea levels poses a threat to public facilities and industrial sites. Stephanie Abrams speaks to retired Lt General Russel Honore about the impacts chemical plants in Houston and Philadelphia could experience.

Police strike DAPL protesters, arrest dozens, demolish ‘Last Child Camp’

RT America

Published on Feb 2, 2017

Police arrested 76 people on Wednesday during a clash with DAPL protesters after their camp was declared illegal and the decision was made to demolish it and disperse its occupants. The incident brings the total number of those arrested in connection with DAPL to more 700. Alexey Yaroshevsky has the details.

Trump’s Oily Cabinet


Published on Feb 2, 2017

Former Texas Agricultural Commissioner Jim Hightower says Energy Secretary Rick Perry might not be able to undo his agency’s current sustainable energy research, but he’ll certainly be an advocate for more nuclear energy and fossil fuels

The Resistance Is Every Single Person In the Country (w/Congressman Mark Pocan)

Thom Hartmann Program

Published on Feb 2, 2017

Thom and Congressman Pocan (D-WI, 2nd District) take your calls , including one from a retiring army officer who “can’t watch young kids die any more”, and others.

Trump Agriculture gag order

Peter Carter

Published on Jan 25, 2017

The US Trump administration just issued a sweeping gag order on the research services office of the USDA. Why such a fast extreme action on this department?

State of the climate and oceans Nov 2016

Peter Carter

Published on Nov 9, 2016

The latest data and reports on climate change, ocean acidification, ocean heat and ocean de-oxygenation for November 2016.

Saving Eden: A Work in Progress – E. O. Wilson, Sylvia Earle

Harvard Museum of Natural History

Published on Nov 16, 2016

Sylvia Earle, Marine Biologist; Explorer-in-Residence and Rosemary and Roger Enrico Chair for Ocean Exploration, National Geographic Society

Justine O’Brien, Scientific Director, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor, Emeritus, Harvard University

Moderated by James Hanken, Professor of Biology, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology; Curator in Herpetology, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, and Director, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University

The upcoming film, Saving Eden from the Sixth Extinction, tells the story of how animals such as northern white rhinos, polar bears, African elephants, and bonobos have been pushed to the brink of extinction and it highlights the critical work that scientists and activists are doing to save these species. Biologists Edward Wilson, Sylvia Earle, and Justine O’Brien—all featured in the film—will discuss how their research is helping to save endangered species and share their views on animal conservation efforts.

Presented in collaboration with Direct Cinema Limited.

See details and transcript of session: