Archive | Environmental

Yet another benefit from global warming

Happy oyster day! In honor of this day we are running Beau Soleil oysters on the half shell with orange-sriracha granite #nationaloysterday #beausoleiloysters #oysters #georgiaseagrill #instafood #instayum

Fortunately for me, I don’t like oysters. But this is not a good sign:

But new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the warming waters may hold an additional danger: Changed temperatures are leading to increases in a bacteria called Vibrio, which can cause fatal illness in people who eat shellfish or swim in ocean waters.

Vibrio is probably little known to most Americans, though it has caused major outbreaks in European coastal cities. But the bacteria is what lies behind the old advice to only eat oysters in months with an r in the name—that is, not in summer. Vibrio burgeons in warmer water. It collects in shellfish such as oysters when they filter water while feeding and then makes people ill when they eat the shellfish raw. It can also cause grave infections if it gets into a wound or a nick in the skin.

Which is a good place to add this from Paul Krugman:

It’s interesting to ask why climate denial has become not just acceptable but essentially required within the G.O.P. Yes, the fossil-fuel sector is a big donor to the party. But the vehemence of the hostility to climate science seems disproportionate even so; bear in mind that, for example, at this point there are fewer than 60,000 coal miners, that is, less than 0.05 percent of the work force. What’s happening, I suspect, is that climate denial has become a sort of badge of right-wing identity, above and beyond the still-operative motive of rewarding donors.

In any case, this election is likely to be decisive for the climate, one way or another. President Obama has made some serious moves to address global warming, and there’s every reason to believe that Hillary Clinton would continue this push — using executive action if she faced a hostile Congress. Given the technological breakthroughs of the last few years, this push might just be enough to avert disaster. Donald Trump, on the other hand, would do everything in his power to trash the planet, with the enthusiastic support of his party. So which will it be? Stay tuned.

Oh the water

I work with a guy whose Baton Rouge house is surrounded by water. This storm system is just horrible:

Heavy rains drenched parts of southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi Friday, causing dangerous floods that killed at least two people, cut off an entire town, shut down highways and prompted numerous rescues.
Heavy rains drenched parts of southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi on Friday, causing dangerous floods that killed at least three people, cut off an entire town, shut down highways and prompted numerous rescues.

In Louisiana, all seven major roads into Greensburg, near Baton Rouge, were under water and the small town largely cut off, according to Michael Martin, director of operations for the St. Helena Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Only large National Guard vehicles have been able to get into and out of town, Martin said. At least two dozen high-water rescues were carried out Friday, with stranded residents pulled from cars, rooftops and, in one case, a tree.

Rescue workers in some areas waded through waist-deep flood waters to get stranded residents and their pets to safety.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, with rain expected for several more days.

As predicted

Global warming is causing the spread of formerly-rare or dormant bacteria and viruses. This is one example:

Temperatures have soared in western Russia’s Yamal tundra this summer. Across Siberia, some provinces warmed an additional 10 degrees Fahrenheit beyond normal. In the fields, large bubbles of vegetation appeared above the melting permafrost — strange pockets of methane or, more likely, water. Record fires blazed through dry Russian grassland.

In one of the more unusual symptoms of unseasonable warmth, long-dormant bacteria appear to be active. For the first time since 1941, anthrax struck western Siberia. Thirteen Yamal nomads were hospitalized, including four children, the Siberian Times reported. The bacteria took an even worse toll on wildlife, claiming some 1,500 reindeer since Sunday.

According to NBC News, the outbreak is thought to stem from a reindeer carcass that died in the plague 75 years ago. As the old flesh thawed, the bacteria once again became active. The disease tore through the reindeer herds, prompting the relocation of dozens of the indigenous Nenet community. Herders face a quarantine that may last until September.

Nuclear radiation, the gift that keeps on giving

Oh, look. Radiation along the Fukushima rivers up to 200 times higher than the Pacific Ocean seabed:

Tokyo, 21 July 2016 – Radioactive contamination in the seabed off the Fukushima coast is hundreds of times above pre-2011 levels, while contamination in local rivers is up to 200 times higher than ocean sediment, according to results from Greenpeace Japan survey work released today.

Fukushima coverup

doc4d83b013e18969283593522

I still remember how the commenters at C&L called me “crazy,” “paranoid” and “unscientific” for saying the meltdown was a lot worse than they were telling us:

TOKYO (AP) – The utility that ran the Fukushima nuclear plant acknowledged Tuesday its delayed disclosure of the meltdowns at three reactors was tantamount to a cover-up and apologized for it.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Naomi Hirose’s apology followed the revelation last week that an investigation had found Hirose’s predecessor instructed officials during the 2011 disaster to avoid using the word “meltdown.”

“I would say it was a cover-up,” Hirose told a news conference. “It’s extremely regrettable.”

TEPCO instead described the reactors’ condition as less serious “core damage” for two months after the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, wrecked the plant, even though utility officials knew and computer simulations suggested meltdowns had occurred.

An investigative report released last Thursday by three company-appointed lawyers said TEPCO’s then-President Masataka Shimizu instructed officials not to use the specific description under alleged pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office, though the investigators found no proof of such pressure.
Continue Reading →

How will the TPP affect the U.S.?

An independent federal report on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) found that the trade agreement between 12 countries would have only modest benefits to the U.S. economy and job growth. The report was mandated by US law as a final step before President Obama could send legislature to Congress for a vote.

The highly anticipated report, conducted by the US International Trade Commission, was revealed on Wednesday. It predicted that by 2032 the TPP would likely increase the national income by $57.3 billion a year, just 0.23% more than what it would be without the trade pact.

This falls short of what private studies had projected would be an increase of over $100 billion annually, including a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, which in January of this year estimated an increase of $131 billion in annual real income by 2030.

While the report projected US exports would increase, imports would grow at a faster rate with free trade partners in Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam. Job growth would also be modest in the US with a projected addition of 128,000 jobs by the 15th year of the TPP’s implementation, which is only 0.07% greater than baseline estimates.

 

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, notes the unreliability of these types of projections because of their inability to account for future currency fluctuations and exchange rates.

Top White House trade representative, Michael Froman, who finalized the TPP at the end of last year, emphasized that the International Trade Commission report did not acknowledge the non-tariff benefits including measures to help American firms protect intellectual property, solidify more free and open Internet commerce and reduce the red tape and competition from state-subsidized foreign competitors.

“There has been tremendous focus on the impact on manufacturing,” said Joel Nied, the chairman of the Transactional Group of Price Benowitz, a US law firm that focuses on international business transactions, “but the agreement will have a profound impact on intellectual property protection issues for US companies as well.”

It is important to note that the US-led pact does not include China. Obama stated that the TPP is critical to securing US economic interests in Asia. The Pacific partnership includes Canada, Australia, Mexico, Singapore, Chile, Peru, New Zealand and Brunei, binding economies that constitute nearly 40% of global economic production.
Continue Reading →

Small government and Zika

Florida Governor Rick Scott discuss his recent tornadoes with media in Deep Creek neighborhood of Port Charlotte.

So Rick Scott creates the bare-bones, “no such thing as climate change” government he wanted, and now he’s whining?

Amid warnings of a potential Zika “disaster” in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday asked President Barack Obama for an extensive list of preparedness items from the federal government to fight the dreaded virus.

In a three-page letter to the President, Scott said some of the requested items were detailed in a May 12 meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, but have not been fulfilled.

“I cannot waste any time on disappointment. Florida needs action from the federal government now,” Scott wrote.

And then he mentions the real problem:

The governor also voiced unhappiness with inaction by the Republican-controlled Congress, which “has failed to act and they are now on vacation.”

Site Meter