Daily Archives: April 7, 2018

World Health Day brings attention to superbugs becoming resistant to drugs

‘Deadliest Catch’ Star: Climate Change Is Very Real

Published on Apr 22, 2014

April 22 (Bloomberg) — “Deadliest Catch” Star Capt. Keith Colburn discusses king crab fishing, climate change and the dangers at sea. He speaks with Matt Miller on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” (Source: Bloomberg)

This new Antarctic Discovery will affect You massively-

Climate State
Published on Apr 6, 2018

Past studies of Antarctica’s accelerated glacier retreat focused on regional trends, a new study now finds continental trends of over ten percent of marine terminating glaciers moving inland. Current peak retreat has been documented to be in the ballpark of 25 meters each single year, with some even in the three digits. Read Chris Mooney’s Washington Post article study summary goo.gl/HuxtxL Press release University of Leeds, Antarctica is retreating across the sea floor http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/4…

Permafrost thaw might be even more potent than we thought

Climate State
Published on Mar 16, 2018

The trend from frozen tundra soils shifting to thermokarst erosion and thaw ponds, may in the future be exacerbated by increased rainfall and weather events. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10…
and http://www.inrs.ca/english/actualites… Correction: at ca. 9:36, it should read, the dark water surfaces of thaw ponds, rich in organic matter, absorb much more sunlight -hence decreases the landscape albedo. NASA map of soil degradation https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOT…
Photo, Tundra Fire, Kaminak Lake Area http://www.prairie.illinois.edu/shilt…
Horn Lake thermokarst https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVKsZ…
Icicle melting by Jeffrey Beach (Beachfront Productions) https://archive.org/details/IcicleMel…
Permafrost warming Svalbard graphic https://twitter.com/Ketil_Isaksen/sta…

Further reading :
As the climate warms, the carbon balance of arctic ecosystems will respond in two opposing ways: Plants will grow faster, leading to a carbon sink, while thawing permafrost will lead to decomposition and loss of soil carbon. https://www.amap.no/documents/doc/sno…
The results presented here—that large C losses are possible from the permafrost region, whose magnitude is strongly governed by the dynamics of deeper decomposition, and that large losses are unlikely to be compensated by N fertilization accompanying decomposition—underscore the importance of considering permafrost carbon dynamics in ESMs. Permafrost soils may produce a strong, albeit delayed, C response to global change, and must therefore be included in assessments of long-term C cycle feedbacks to climate change. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/12/3752

Methanotroph https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methano…
Heterotroph https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterot…
Alaska Permafrost https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2…

As Ice Sheets Melt Faster, Sea Level Rise Is Accelerating Every Year

Climate Change News
Published on Apr 7, 2018
As Ice Sheets Melt Faster, Sea Level Rise Is Accelerating Every Year.
The melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is speeding up the pace of sea level rise a little bit every year, according to a new analysis of satellite data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If the current pace continues, the study estimates, seas could rise more than 2 feet by 2100.

But the authors note that sea levels could increase at a much more rapid rate if, as expected, the melting of polar ice sheets intensifies this century.

Global sea levels have risen 2.8 inches since the early 1990s. Over the long term, much of this rise has been driven by the expansion of water as it warms and from meltwater running off ice sheets and glaciers into the oceans. Scientists had previously estimated that global sea levels were increasing at a steady 3 millimeters (0.1 inches) per year. But the new analysis found that the annual rate has accelerated over the last 25 years — increasing at about 0.8 mm per year above the 3 millimeter baseline. This rise is due mainly to the increasing melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. The latest paper relied not only on coastal tide gauge data, but also on a longer series of satellite records that now allow scientists to study changes in the open ocean as well.

The new data means the annual rate of sea level rise could be at least 10 mm per year by 2100, resulting in seas being 65 centimeters (26 inches) higher than they are today by the end of the century — double the amount if the rate had stayed constant at 3 mm.

Steve Nerem, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder and lead author of the new study, called the findings “almost certainly a conservative estimate.” Other recent studies have projected sea level increases of 3 to 6 feet by 2100.

“Our extrapolation assumes that sea level continues to change in the future as it has over the last 25 years,” he said in a statement. “Given the large changes we are seeing in the ice sheets today, that’s not likely.”


Climate change information disappears from federal websites in ‘pervasive, systematic’ scrubbing | WGBH News

A screenshot of epa.gov/climatechange from Jan. 10, 2018.

January 10, 2018

Carolyn Beeler

A year ago, President Donald Trump was getting ready to take office and scientists and hackers around the world were backing up US environmental data before he did.

Canadian researcher Michelle Murphy summed up the fears of many environmental scientists who relied on that data for their work.

“We’re worried that the incoming administration is going to remove data sets that are available now, and once they’re offline, we don’t know what’s going to happen to them,” Murphy told The World last year.

Twelve months into the Trump administration, these fears have gone unrealized.

“No data has been removed, which was one of our significant concerns going into the Trump administration,” said Gretchen Gehrke from the watchdog group the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI), which sprung up out of the data-back-up movement in 2016. “We haven’t seen either the raw data or even the synthesized reporting of that data blocked from public access.”

The story is different for climate change information aimed at the general public.

In a report released Thursday, EDGI documents major changes to climate change information across several government agency websites, from documents and webpages being removed to references to “climate change” being scrubbed from sites.

“There is a fairly pervasive, systematic alteration of climate change information and kind of a rhetorical shift across several agencies,” Gehrke said.

Hundreds of pages of climate change information have been removed from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Documents related to international climate agreements have been deleted from the State Department’s site.

“There are really large overhauls that have occurred,” Gehrke said.

The EPA’s climate change domain, she notes, has been down since April.

Elsewhere on the environment agency’s website, more than 200 pages of climate information for state, local and tribal governments have been deleted. Arctic researcher Victoria Herrmann said those resources and toolkits were designed to help local leaders plan for and adapt to climate change.

“Those are really important to smaller communities, like the many remote tribal communities in Alaska,” said Herrmann, who researches climate change in Alaskan communities and serves as managing director for The Arctic Institute.

An EPA spokesperson pointed out that the Obama-era website is archived online and linked to at the top of every agency page, so this information is still available.

“As we continue to make interagency reforms,” the EPA spokesperson wrote in a statement, “affiliated departmental websites will change as well.”

But the archived pages are harder to find, and Herrmann points out that in many remote areas, internet access often comes in the form of a slow dial-up connection at a community center or school.

“In those situations, spending time going through archived sites, Googling specifically what you want if you don’t know what the title is, means that you’re wasting valuable time, money and energy on something that was once very easily accessible,” Herrmann said.

Many federal webpages are being tweaked rather than taken down entirely. Words like “climate” and “climate change” are in some places being replaced by “resilience” and “sustainability.”

At the EPA, the report finds that a program formerly called “Climate Ready Water Utilities” was renamed “Creating Resilient Water Utilities.” Last December, the Department of Transportation changed the title of the Sustainable Transport and Climate Change group to the Sustainable Transport and Resilience group.

A Federal Highway Administration spokesperson told the

Washington Post last year that the change was made “to more accurately reflect our agency’s emphasis on resilience activities.”

The word “resilience” has become a catch-all term that’s less politically charged than “climate change.” Swapping out the terms may seem like semantics, but to experts, the wording change signals possible policy shifts.

Harvard’s Jesse Keenan, who studied federal resilience policy during the Obama era, says “in many cases, [wording] really does matter.”

Resilience can be used to describe preparedness for all kinds of threats, not just those related to climate change, and changing the name of a program could change its focus.

“It’s really about interpretation. It’s not just the people in Washington, it’s the people in the regional offices, and ultimately in some cases it’s courts that have to interpret the intent of these programs,” Keenan said, “so actually, the nomenclature is actually really important.”

Every administration has a right to change its public face, and in recent changes of administration that’s meant changes to White House and federal agency sites.

So these website changes are not all that surprising given the Trump administration’s policies.

As the error message at the now-defunct EPA climate change website says it’s being updated “to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt.”

Why So Many Nor’easters In March? New Research Suggests Climate Change May Be A Factor | WGBH News

Snow falls onto Porter Square in Cambridge during a nor’easter on March 13, 2018. Credit: Amanda Beland/WGBH News

March 20, 2018 – Joe Mathieu Heather Goldstone

Joe Mathieu: You’re listening to WGBH’s Morning Edition. This winter started off bitterly cold, then turned mild for a month or so, and then March hit. Three major storms already and more snow in the forecast today into tomorrow. Ironically, new research suggests climate change could be a big part of the equation. WGBH Radio science correspondent Heather Goldstone joins us now with more. Good morning, Heather.

Heather Goldstone: Good morning.

JM: This is something, because a lot of people like to say ‘So much for global warming, look how cold it is in March!’

HG: Happy Spring.

JM: You too, by the way.

HG: Well, I mean, the thing is we have to realize that it’s not like March storms are something new. A few years ago, I actually, with the help of some of the meteorologists over it Weather Underground, put together a list of historic march snow storms going all the way back to the great snow of 1717, which was actually four storms in about a week and a half that dumped at least five feet of snow. So if we think we’ve had a bad March, that one really started off like a lion.

JM: Wow.

HG: And then people may remember the April Fool’s Day blizzard of 1997, about three feet of snow on April 1st. You know, so definitely these are not the first March storms ever, but this year storms, perhaps record-setting, specifically for the coastal flooding that we’ve been seeing and also the extent of the power outages that have hit us.

JM: I guess it speaks to why climate change is a more appropriate term to use than global warming. How does that tie in, Heather?

HG: Right. So this is an interesting one that the science really started emerging — and this idea that the Arctic, in particular, could be influencing our winter weather — started emerging several years ago, and it’s been a little controversial because it’s been hard to nail down exactly how warming in the Arctic would influence our winters. But the basic idea is that it’s the temperature difference — the cold in the Arctic and the warmer temperatures farther south — that really fuel things like the jet stream and the prevailing winds that determine our weather, and the Arctic is warming at least twice, maybe as much as four times faster than the global average.

And so, as it’s getting warmer, that temperature difference can actually break down and that starts to affect the jet stream. We’ve heard these terms like polar vortex in recent years, and then there was this new study which ironically was published last week as the storm was hitting on Tuesday, which kind of added to this and said, OK, there’s another piece to this, which is that if that warming is strong enough it can reach all the way up high up into the atmosphere well above where planes fly up into the stratosphere, and the stratosphere can kind of act like a memory mechanism, hold onto that energy, radiate it back down to the jet stream later, and actually, the connection is strongest in the late winter, kind of like we’re seeing right now.

JM: So is that — that is, in fact, then, what’s been going on this month, this March.

HG: Well, you know, we don’t have any formal attribution. Nobody’s gone, as we can at this point, with computer models and said, you know, these storms are are 20 percent more likely with climate change, or that sort of thing. But this is certainly what the senior author of that study, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, who’s really pioneered this work, this is exactly what she says you would expect.


Jennifer Francis: Mother Nature seems to really agree with us and has been giving us quite a few examples this winter. And this past nor’easter that we just had a couple days ago was the fifth what we’d call a bomb cyclone that we’ve had this year. It’s really been an incredible winter.

HG: And to add to how incredible it’s been, if you go up to the Arctic, the opposite of what we’ve been seeing, there have been temperatures above freezing at the North Pole; open water in the Arctic north of Greenland, where there would normally be thick sea ice. So we are seeing that pattern of a very warm Arctic can lead to a cold, snowy pattern here in New England.

JM: We’re talking with WGBH science correspondent Heather Goldstone. Sounds like our weather patterns, then, are truly upside down.

HG: Yeah, I mean, that’s basically — there are certain metrics of, you know, this difference in temperature that have, in past years, literally flipped where we may even be warmer than the Arctic in some cases. And then in other cases, as I said, it’s just that the temperature difference isn’t as much and we get these dips in the Gulf Stream, we get kind of that cold arctic air spilling down as it did in Europe a few weeks ago, and as we’ve been experiencing here for for the month of March.

JM: And here we are with our fourth nor’easter. Heather Goldstone is our science correspondent and host of Living Lab Radio, which airs Sundays at noon here on WGBH. Major support provided by the Kendeda fund, investing in transformative leaders and ideas. Heather, thanks. Good luck with the storm.

HG: Yeah, you too.

When It Comes To Climate Change, The Future Is Now — As Recent Coastal Flooding Showed | WGBH News

boston wadert

A Boston firefighter wades through flood waters from Boston Harbor on Long Wharf in Boston, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. A massive winter storm swept from the Carolinas to Maine. Credit: Michael Dwyer/ AP

Commentary   February 15, 2018

Bradley M. Campbell

Anyone who was surprised by the flooding that took place in the Seaport District, Chelsea, Salem and other oceanside communities during the most recent winter storm has not been paying attention. The video and photos that showed Atlantic Avenue looking like an icy tributary pouring into Boston Harbor were shocking – but not unexpected. Everyone living in Massachusetts should look at the events of January 4th as a sign of things to come so that we can mitigate the damage that flooding will bring to Boston and the region.

The simple fact is that climate change is a reality, and that coastal areas will bear the brunt of it. Homes and buildings near the Waterfront are already vulnerable to rising tides and flooding, especially during major storms, which are increasing in intensity. We know seas are rising – the City of Boston itself acknowledges that truth and have even issued reports like Climate Ready Boston, which recommends critical steps to make the region more climate resilient.

The City’s report indicates that many low-lying neighborhoods, including the Seaport District, could face monthly inundation by the end of the century just from the average monthly high tide. And yet, even while the city has put together plans, neighborhoods like the Seaport – and the developments there – have been allowed to ignore the reality of these risks. In fact, only a handful of new residential and commercial buildings built on the water in the past decade include design elements that will help them withstand long-term flood impacts and other damage associated with climate change.

With the announcement that Mass Mutual will be building in the Seaport comes another opportunity for a major corporation to set an example for climate resiliency on the Waterfront, which many developers have failed to do. The company is proposing to spend $240 million to build 300,000 square feet of office space on Fan Pier.

Ever since the state successfully cleaned up Boston Harbor with billions in taxpayer money, waterfront property has become highly valuable. But many of the areas on Boston’s waterfront, like the Seaport District, belong to the public and are governed by a set of state regulations that license private developers to build in exchange for providing public access and benefits. It is increasingly clear that, just like public access, climate resiliency is an urgent public purpose that must be met by new development.

Three decades ago, Conservation Law Foundation filed the federal lawsuit that forced Boston Harbor’s cleanup, which turned the harbor from a sewer into one of the region’s greatest assets. And now, we’re fighting to ensure that the Waterfront – and the people who live and work there – can withstand the ravages that icy, flooding waters, intense rain, and punishing winds will bring.

So what can developers do to be more climate resilient? For one, instead of taking the traditional approach of using historical flooding as a basis for site design, they can use future projections to make decisions about elevation, stormwater management, and buffer zones to accommodate climate impacts like sea level rise, storm surge, and extreme precipitation. They can work with the city and state to raise the Harborwalk to ensure it will provide public access to the water rather than being constantly flooded.

On their sites, they can leverage the benefits of open space, which is not only a valuable neighborhood asset but a way to absorb flood impacts. We need a shift in design and planning to focus on working with water rather than against it. If we provide the natural systems, we can give the water a place to go rather than forcing it to spill onto Atlantic Avenue and surrounding neighborhoods. The Seaport is one of the first lines of defense against flooding in the city, so if we do not address the vulnerabilities there, we can expect to see more flooding in other neighborhoods.

Finally, instead of seeking long-term, extended permits and licenses, which is the default for Boston developers, they can instead aim for shorter term licenses. This will allow companies to assess the impact of climate change on their buildings in a more reasonable timeframe and provide the city and state with an opportunity to reevaluate the preparedness of a site as risks change over time.

By adopting these measures, Boston will also be setting an important precedent for other waterfront communities – like Lynn, Everett, Quincy –on the cusp of major building booms.

When it comes to climate change, the storm on January 4th taught us the future is now. We should anticipate that we’ll see more destructive weather coming, and that a frozen flood on Atlantic Avenue will be more the norm than the exception. Now is the time to ensure that new developments there incorporate reality into their buildings, to protect themselves and this important asset.

Bradley Campbell is President of Conservation Law Foundation.

Climate Justice: Beyond Green Elitism | WGBH News

In the wake of Washington’s retreat from climate action, cities like Boston are blazing new trials. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

How We Live | Commentary   June 15, 2017

Michelle Wu

President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord—and by extension, global leadership on climate—makes clear that the fight against climate change will be driven by local action for the foreseeable future. Since the announcement, 298 Climate Mayors across the country, including Boston’s own Mayor Marty Walsh, have come together to set local standards and push ambitious new carbon reduction goals. Any successful effort to mitigate climate change will require major local leadership, as urban areas account for only 1% of the land on earth, yet are responsible for more than 60% of carbon emissions.

But effective local action on climate change will also require changing how we talk about why climate change matters. Too often, the conversation is marked by green elitism, focusing on ways to expand electric vehicles for those who can afford the luxury, or sea-level rise projections based on a 100-year timeframe. These issues are important, but don’t come close to being urgent for families worrying about making the next rent payment or struggling to care for young kids and aging parents. This framing also ignores the reality that climate change is here now and disproportionately impacting underserved communities.

Although unabated climate change will become disastrous in the long term, we don’t need to look to the next decade to see the impacts of climate crisis. The growing global scarcity of clean, safe drinking water is already creating environmental refugees, and droughts have been linked to violence in the Middle East and North Africa. Here in the U.S. coastal cities are already suffering from increased storm water flooding—particularly in low-income neighborhoods—not to mention high profile natural disasters from hurricanes to rampant wildfires out west.

At home and abroad, underserved communities are hit hardest and face the greatest barriers in adapting to climate impacts. For these communities to be heard, we must expand and diversify the ranks of who is involved in climate advocacy.

In other words, cities have a responsibility not just to tackle climate change in the face of federal inaction, but to reframe the need for action under the more urgent and inclusive umbrella of climate justice.

From food justice to healthy housing and work, climate change is impacting America’s poor. Food deserts will only expand as prices rise. More frequent flooding exacerbates waterborne illnesses and mold for families living in poor housing conditions. Extreme heat creates health risks for our elderly, youth, residents with medical conditions, and those who work outdoors.

Tackling these serious challenges from a climate justice perspective will trigger opportunity and economic development in our most underserved communities. Expanding affordable transportation access through public transit, cycling, and pedestrian infrastructure reduces car dependency and emissions while directly improving job prospects and economic mobility. Green jobs are growing twelve times faster than the overall economy; these on-site positions cannot be outsourced and often pay above-average wages.

In Boston, we are taking the lead on building resiliency. Mayor Walsh’s Imagine Boston 2030 plan adds climate action into a citywide strategic vision. Initiatives like Greenovate Boston and the work of Boston’s first Chief Resiliency Officer have brought a data-driven, community-focused approach to climate conversations. On the City Council, we are pushing to exercise bulk purchasing power on behalf of residents and small businesses to set a higher percentage of renewable energy sourcing through Community Choice Energy, working to reduce the carbon footprint of municipal buildings, and more. We will continue our advocacy for concrete and immediate action to fight climate change. But most of all, we must listen.

Progress on civil rights and economic opportunity is inextricably linked with climate change. Addressing the disparate impacts of climate change requires consciously addressing the underlying social, racial and economic inequalities embedded in our city, together as a community.

The call to a new generation of leaders is to listen to communities and work together in linking our resiliency planning to improving opportunities and quality of life for all. My office has begun a new process to understand how Boston can do better, opening a dialogue with climate justice and community-based organizations around the city. We are examining what has been accomplished to date, and are asking what Boston can do to better address the challenges we know are coming. As with everything we do in city government, this must be an open, transparent, and community-led effort.

Cities will be the leaders of this fight for climate justice, and we owe it to our constituents–and the world–to get it right.

Michelle Wu is President of the Boston City Council.

LISTEN: Governor Charlie Baker Introduces Climate Change Bill | WGBH News

A front end loader clears the pier at the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina on Tuesday. Credit: Michael Dwyer/AP

All Things Considered  March 15, 2018 Barbara Howard

Barbara Howard: Gov. Charlie Baker, introducing a bill today that he says will help fight the effects of climate change. The roughly $1.5 billion bill comes as Massachusetts has been walloped by three nor’easters in a row. The storms brought severe flooding to some coastal parts of the state. Here to talk about Baker’s bill is WGBH Radio’s Adam Reilly. Hi, Adam.

Reilly: Hey, Barbara.

Howard: So Gov. Baker, he was in Scituate today. He was announcing that bill, and Scituate, of course, is one of the communities that was hit hard by the flooding and the recent storms. And here’s what the governor had to say:

We all need to pull together to do the work that’s associated with ensuring that we here in the Commonwealth are ready for what will be the very significant changes associated with climate, water temperatures, sea levels and all the rest that have we seen so much of over the course of the past few weeks.

Howard: OK Adam, so what exactly is in this bill that the governor’s filing?

Reilly: There is a whole bunch of stuff in here. As you said it’s around $1.5 billion — $1.4 billion to be precise. Of that I would say about $300 million is earmarked specifically for measures that are supposed to beef up critical infrastructure and help deal with the effects of climate change. There’s a bunch of other investment in areas that are not directly related to climate change, for example $580 million of investment in deferred maintenance and recreational resource stewardship — things like parklands, trails, that sort of thing.

Also, $270 million for environmental protection, $290 million in investments in municipalities across the state that are not directly linked to climate change. So a meaningful portion of it is, $300 million is a lot of money, but not the whole thing by any stretch of the imagination. I should also point out that Gov. Baker back in 2016 issued an executive order that called for the creation of a master plan for dealing with climate change, which is due later this year. He did that by executive order. This bill, if it becomes law, would codify that in the Mass. general laws. It would say that the state is going to come up with a master plan for dealing with climate change, and it’s going to update it every five years.

Howard: OK, but getting back to this particular bill today — what’s the broader context for his decision to file it?

Reilly: Well, obviously the nasty storms that we’ve been experiencing. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Gov. Baker is seeking re-election, and I think this will probably help him with some voters. But also, there has been this ongoing standoff on Beacon Hill between the state Senate, which wants to do more when it comes to tackling climate change, and the House of Representatives, which has been a little more leery of taking drastic action. There is some legislation the Senate has passed actually five times. It’s known as CAMP — that’s an acronym for Comprehensive Adaptation Management Plan. That bill, if it became law, would also call for the creation of a climate change master plan, but it would do two other really important things. It would create a buyback program so that the state could purchase flood prone lands on the coast and even inland areas that are flooding again and again. And it would also require that everything the state does regulatorily — new licenses, permits, approvals, grant funding — that all of that match this new climate change master plan to the maximum extent practicable. That’s a provision which is not included in the legislation that Gov. Baker filed today.

Barbara: OK, so what can we expect next?

Reilly: Well, the big question is what the House is going to do, because nothing becomes law if Speaker Bob DeLeo and his colleagues don’t want it to. I’ve tried contacting the Speaker for comment on what he thinks of this. Haven’t yet heard back. He may still be working his way through the bill. It’s 72 pages. Again, a lot of money involved here. The House tends to be more conservative fiscally than the state Senate. But I do think that the weather that we’ve been getting, and apparently are going to continue to get, looking ahead to next week and the new nor’easter that we apparently have to be bracing for, I think that has created a climate — pun intended — in which action is more likely than it would have been a year or two ago.

Howard: OK, thanks so much Adam.

Reilly: Thanks, Barbara.

Howard: That’s WGBH Radio’s Adam Riley talking about a new bill introduced by Gov. Charlie Baker that he says is aimed to help fight off the effects of climate change.