Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Carbon emissions per capita by country

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From the graph:

Highest carbon emissions per capita

1 Middle East oil producing countries – Bahrain/Oman/Kuwait/Qatar/UAE
2 Canada
3 Saudi Arabia
4 US
5 Australia/NZ
6 Russia
7 South Korea
8 Kazakhstan/Turkmenistan
9 Taiwan
10 Japan

Only 9.5% of France’s electricity production comes from fossil fuels, much lower than many other developed countries like the U.S. at 60% and Japan at 69%.

From Visual Capital:

Written by Leisureguy

30 November 2022 at 11:23 pm

Embrace what may be the most important green technology ever. It could save us all

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George Monbiot writes in the Guardian:

So what do we do now? After 27 summits and no effective action, it seems that the real purpose was to keep us talking. If governments were serious about preventing climate breakdown, there would have been no Cops 2-27. The major issues would have been resolved at Cop1, as the ozone depletion crisis was at a single summit in Montreal.

Nothing can now be achieved without mass protest, whose aim, like that of protest movements before us, is to reach the critical mass that triggers a social tipping point. But, as every protester knows, this is only part of the challenge. We also need to translate our demands into action, which requires political, economic, cultural and technological change. All are necessary, none are sufficient. Only together can they amount to the change we need to see.

Let’s focus for a moment on technology. Specifically, what might be the most important environmental technology ever developed: precision fermentation.

Precision fermentation is a refined form of brewing, a means of multiplying microbes to create specific products. It has been used for many years to produce drugs and food additives. But now, in several labs and a few factories, scientists are developing what could be a new generation of staple foods.

The developments I find most interesting use no agricultural feedstocks. The microbes they breed feed on hydrogen or methanol – which can be made with renewable electricity – combined with water, carbon dioxide and a very small amount of fertiliser. They produce a flour that contains roughly 60% protein, a much higher concentration than any major crop can achieve (soy beans contain 37%, chick peas, 20%). When they are bred to produce specific proteins and fats, they can create much better replacements than plant products for meat, fish, milk and eggs. And they have the potential to do two astonishing things.

The first is to shrink to a remarkable degree the footprint of food production. One paper estimates that precision fermentation using methanol needs 1,700 times less land than the most efficient agricultural means of producing protein: soy grown in the US. This suggests it might use, respectively, 138,000 and 157,000 times less land than the least efficient means: beef and lamb production. Depending on the electricity source and recycling rates, it can also enable radical reductions in water use and greenhouse gas emissions. Because the process is contained, it avoids the spillover of waste and chemicals into the wider world caused by farming.

If livestock production is replaced by this technology, it creates what could be the last major opportunity to prevent Earth systems collapse, namely ecological restoration on a massive scale. By rewilding the vast tracts now occupied by livestock (by far the greatest of all human land uses) or by the crops used to feed them – as well as the seas being trawled or gill-netted to destruction – and restoring forests, wetlands, savannahs, natural grasslands, mangroves, reefs and sea floors, we could both stop the sixth great extinction and draw down much of the carbon we have released into the atmosphere.

The second astonishing possibility is breaking the . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 November 2022 at 3:06 pm

An impressive animated video on climate change

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Written by Leisureguy

24 November 2022 at 6:02 pm

A Soil Fungus That Causes Lung Infections Is Spreading Across the U.S.

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I don’t have a garden, but if I did, after reading this article I would definitely wear a face mask when cultivating the soil.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2022 at 5:47 pm

How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths

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Mass protests against the domination of cars were one factor that led to the superb cycling infrastructure of today’s Netherlands.

From Project for Public Spaces:

Given the reputation of the Netherlands as a cyclists’ paradise, you might think that its extensive cycling infrastructure came down from heaven itself, or was perhaps created by the wave of a magic wand. Not so. It was the result of a lot of hard work, including massive street protests and very deliberate political decision-making.

The video below offers vital historical perspective on the way the Netherlands ended up turning away from the autocentric development that arose with postwar prosperity, and chose to go down the cycle path. It lists several key factors, including public outrage over the amount of space given to automobiles; huge protests over traffic deaths, especially those of children, which were referred to by protesters as “child murder”; and governmental response to the oil crisis of the 1970s, which prompted efforts to reduce oil dependence without diminishing quality of life.

The Netherlands is often perceived as an exceptional nation in terms of its transportation policies and infrastructure. And yet there is nothing inherently exceptional about the country’s situation. As the narrator says at the end of the film, “The Netherlands’ problems were and are not unique. Their solutions shouldn’t be that either.”

You can read more on the blog A View from the Cycle Path.

And find out more about what we can learn from the Netherlands in these recent PPS posts:

“What Can We Learn about Road Safety from the Dutch?”

“Where the Sidewalk Doesn’t End: What Shared Space Has to Share”

“Exiting the ‘Forgiving Highway’ for the ‘Self-Explaining Road'”

Continue reading to see comments on the post.

Written by Leisureguy

19 November 2022 at 3:00 am

Science Over Capitalism: Kim Stanley Robinson and the Imperative of Hope

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James Bradley’s interview with Kim Stanley Robinson is excerpted from the book Tomorrow’s Parties: Life in the Anthropocene and appears in The MIT Press Reader:

There is no question Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the most important writers working today. Across almost four decades and more than 20 novels, his scrupulously imagined fiction has consistently explored questions of social justice, political and environmental economy, and utopian possibility.

Robinson is probably best known for his Mars trilogy, which envisions the settlement and transformation of Mars over several centuries, and the ethical and political challenges of building a new society. Yet it is possible his most significant legacy will turn out to be the remarkable sequence of novels that began with “2312.” Published across less than a decade, these six books reimagine both our past and our future in startlingly new ways, emphasizing the indivisibility of ecological and economic systems and placing the climate emergency center stage.

The most recent, “The Ministry for the Future,” published in 2020, is a work of extraordinary scale and ambition. Simultaneously a deeply confronting vision of the true scale of the climate crisis, a future history of the next 50 years, and a manifesto outlining the revolutionary change that will be necessary to avert catastrophe, it is by turns terrifying, exhilarating, and finally, perhaps surprisingly, guardedly hopeful. It is also one of the most important books published in recent years.

This interview was conducted between January and March 2021, beginning in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the United States Capitol and the inauguration of President Biden, and ending as a second wave of the COVID pandemic began to gather pace in many countries around the world. As we bounced questions back and forth across the Pacific, a drumbeat of impending disaster grew louder by the day: atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 417 ppm, a level 50 percent higher than preindustrial levels; a study showed the current system responsible for the relative warmth of the Northern Hemisphere — the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation — at its weakest level in a thousand years; and Kyoto’s cherry blossoms bloomed earlier than they have at any time since records began in the ninth century CE.


James Bradley: In several of your recent novels, you’ve characterized the first few decades of the 21st century as a time of inaction and indecision — in “2312,” for instance, you called them “the Dithering” — but in “The Ministry for the Future,” you talk about the 2030s as “the zombie years,” a moment when “civilization had been killed but it kept walking the Earth, staggering toward some fate even worse than death.” I wonder whether you could talk a little bit about that idea. What’s brought us to this point? And what does it mean for a civilization to be dead?

Kim Stanley Robinson: I’m thinking now that my sense of our global civilization dithering, and also trying to operate on old ideas and systems that are clearly inadequate to the present crisis, has been radically impacted by the COVID pandemic, which I think has been somewhat of a wake-up call for everyone — showing that we are indeed in a global civilization in every important sense (food supply, for instance), and also that we are utterly dependent on science and technology to keep eight billion people alive.

So “2312” was written in 2010. In that novel, I provided a timeline of sorts, looking backward from 2312, that was notional and intended to shock, also to fill the many decades it takes to make three centuries, and in a way that got my story in place the way I wanted it. In other words, it was a literary device, not a prediction. But it’s interesting now to look back and see me describing “the Dithering” as lasting so long. These are all affect states, not chronological predictions; I think it’s very important to emphasize science fiction’s double action, as both prophecy and metaphor for our present. As prophecy, SF is always wrong; as metaphor, it is always right, being an expression of the feeling of the time of writing.

So following that, “The Ministry for the Future” was written in 2019, before the pandemic. It expresses both fears and hopes specific to 2019 — and now, because of the shock of the pandemic, it can serve as an image of “how it felt before.” It’s already a historical artifact. That’s fine, and I think it might be possible that the book can be read better now than it could have been in January 2020 when I finished it.

Now I don’t think there will be a period of “zombie years,” and certainly not the 2030s. The pandemic as a shock has sped up civilization’s awareness of the existential dangers of climate change. Now, post COVID, a fictional future history might speak of the “Trembling Twenties” as it’s described in “The Ministry for the Future,” but it also seems it will be a period of galvanized, spasmodic, intense struggle for control over history, starting right now. With that new feeling, the 2030s seem very far off and impossible to predict at all.

JB: In “The Ministry for the Future,” the thing that finally triggers change is the catastrophic heat wave that opens the book. It’s a profoundly upsetting and very powerful piece of writing, partly because an event of the sort it depicts is likely to be a reality within a decade or so. But as somebody whose country has already experienced catastrophic climate disaster in the form of fire and flood and seen little or no change in our political discourse, I found myself wondering whether the idea such a disaster would trigger change mightn’t be too optimistic. Do you think it will take catastrophe to create real change? Or will the impetus come from elsewhere?

KSR: People are good at . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

28 October 2022 at 6:32 pm

The (bad) side effects of burning incense

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Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to inhale the products of combustion (for example, those who live in homes that have a gas range have more frequent respiratory ailments) and in particular to inhale particulate matter (so I wear an N95 face mask when I walk on days when the air carries smoke from wildfires). Deliberately putting smoke into the air to be breathed is… well, breathtaking. Literally.

Watch this short video:

Written by Leisureguy

17 October 2022 at 7:42 pm

Last stand in the Amazon

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Jeff Tollefson has a profusely illustrated and gripping article in Nature on the effort to preserve the Amazon rainforest. The interactive graphics and illustrative maps are richly rewarding, and I urge you to click through to read (and view) the article, which begins:

As the Sun dips towards the distant Andes, Luis Tayori’s crew cuts the motor and our skiff makes landfall on a small island deep in the Peruvian Amazon. Tayori collects his gear and makes his way barefoot up a rocky beach. The low roar of the Madre de Dios River fills the air as he sets up a drone on a flat patch of sand.

Thumbs on the controller, he sends the machine skywards, and the shrill buzz of four propellers gradually fades as it disappears over a grove of trees. Tayori is here to check out reports from local Indigenous communities that drug traffickers have been using the island as a base.

Within minutes, the drone’s camera captures its target: an illegal airstrip. Even here, in one of the most remote and pristine areas of the Amazon, the cocaine trade is rapidly expanding its reach.

“This is serious,” he says.

Tayori is a member of the Harakbut Indigenous group, and his job is to protect the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve, an Indigenous territory nestled against the Andes Mountains in the southern Peruvian Amazon. The Madre de Dios region is a vast landscape that holds massive stocks of carbon and biodiversity, but modernity is quickly encroaching in the form of loggers, gold miners, energy developers and drug traffickers, along with the profound impacts of global warming. Combined, they create an existential threat to the Amazon forest and the Indigenous peoples who live there.

Villagers on this stretch of river fear  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2022 at 5:40 pm

Humans redouble effort to make the earth uninhabitable

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In Nature Jeff Tollefson has an interesting albeit disheartening article, extremely informative, well written, and profusely illustrated with stunning photographs (one of which is shown above). The article is worth reading, though it did make my heart sink. Humanity is not doing well, and its failures are primarily due to its own actions and omissions.

Written by Leisureguy

7 October 2022 at 10:20 am

Tampa Bay is a possible catastrophe

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In July of 2017, I blogged about an article by Darryl Fears in the Washington Post, which begins:

TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Mark Luther’s dream home has a window that looks out to a world of water. He can slip out the back door and watch dolphins swim by his private dock. Shore birds squawk from nearby nests in giant mangroves.

He said it’s hard to imagine ever leaving this slice of paradise on St. Petersburg’s Bayou Grande, even though the water he adores is starting to get a little creepy.

Over the 24 years since he moved into the house, the bayou has inched up a protective sea wall and crept toward his front door. As sea level rises, a result of global warming, it contributes to flooding in his Venetian Isles neighborhood and Shore Acres, a neighboring community of homes worth as much as $2.5 million, about 70 times per year.

“Why stay?” asked Luther, an oceanographer who knows perfectly well a hurricane could one day shove 15 feet of water into his living room. “It’s just so nice.”

Tampa Bay is mesmerizing, with 700 miles of shoreline and some of the finest white sand beaches in the nation. But analysts say the metropolitan area is the most vulnerable in the United States to flooding and damage if a major hurricane ever scores a direct hit.

A Boston firm that analyzes potential catastrophic damage reported that the region would lose $175 billion in a storm the size of Hurricane Katrina. A World Bank study called Tampa Bay one of the 10 most at-risk areas on the globe.

Yet the bay area — greater Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater — has barely begun to assess the rate of sea-level rise and address its effects. Its slow response to a major threat is a case study in how American cities reluctantly prepare for the worst, even though signs of impacts from climate change abound all around.

State leaders could be part of the reason. Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has reportedly discouraged employees from using the words “climate change” in official communications. Last month, the Republican-controlled state legislature approved bills allowing any citizen to challenge textbooks and instructional materials, including those that teach the science of evolution and global warming.

The sea in Tampa Bay has risen naturally throughout time, about an inch per decade. But in the early 1990s, scientists say, it accelerated to several inches above normal, so much that recent projections have the bay rising between six inches and more than two feet by the middle of the century and up to nearly seven feet when it ends. On top of that, natural settling is causing land to slowly sink.

Sea-level rise worsens the severity of even small storms, adding to the water that can be pushed ashore. Hard rains now regularly flood neighborhoods in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Clearwater.

y a stroke of gambler’s luck, Tampa Bay hasn’t suffered a direct hit from a hurricane as powerful as a category 3 or higher in nearly a century. Tampa has doubled down on a bet that another won’t strike anytime soon, investing billions of dollars in high-rise condominiums along the waterfront and shipping port upgrades and expanding a hospital on an island in the middle of the bay to make it one of the largest in the state.

Once-sleepy St. Petersburg has gradually followed suit, adorning its downtown coast with high-rise condominiums, new shops and hotels. The city is in the final stages of a plan to build a $45 million pier as a major attraction that would extend out into the bay.

Worried that area leaders weren’t adequately focused on the downside of living in a tropic, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council reminded them of the risks by simulating a worst-case scenario hurricane, a category 5 with winds exceeding 156 mph, to demonstrate what would happen if it entered the Gulf of Mexico and turned their way.

The fictitious Phoenix hurricane scenario projects that wind damage would destroy nearly half a million homes and businesses. About 2 million residents would require medical treatment, and the estimated death toll, more than 2,000, would top the number of people who perished from Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Florida’s most densely populated county, Pinellas, could be sliced in half by a wave of water. The low-lying county of about a million is growing so fast that there’s no land left to develop, and main roads and an interstate connecting it to Tampa get clogged with traffic even on a clear day.

“If a hurricane 4 or 5 hit us,” St. Petersburg City Council Chairman Darden Rice said, referring to the two highest category storms, “there’s no doubt about it. The plan is you’d better get out of Dodge.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s warning was even starker. Standing outside City Hall last year, he described what would happen if a hurricane as small as a category 3 with 110 mph to 130 mph winds hit downtown.

“Where you’re standing now would be 15 feet under water,” he said. . .

Continue reading. There’s quite a bit more. It’s a lengthy article and if Fiona hits Tampa, we’ll know how much of the article is reliable.

Thank God Tampa’s had the past five years to prepare and reduce the risk. However, important but non-urgent things tend to be pushed aside by urgent matters (whether those are important or not).

Written by Leisureguy

27 September 2022 at 1:09 pm

WTF?! Border Wall Construction Resumes Under President Joe Biden

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Ryan Devereaux reports in the Intercept:

MYLES TRAPHAGEN DIDN’T need a government presentation to tell him that border wall construction was kicking back up. He saw everything he needed on a recent visit to the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and the Coronado National Forest, near the town of Sasabe in southern Arizona.

As the borderlands coordinator for the Wildlands Network, Traphagen had visited the area many times before. It was among the sites he examined in an extensive report published in July documenting the environmental impact of the border wall expansion under President Donald Trump — President Joe Biden paused the construction shortly after his inauguration.

Traphagen spotted a new staging area and water holding tanks under construction. Fixed to the wall were new signs citing an Arizona trespassing law. A security guard at the scene told him construction was resuming. Later, a Border Patrol agent ordered him to leave the area.

“It’s feeling like it felt during border wall construction with Trump,” Traphagen told The Intercept. “I hadn’t felt that on the border in a year and a half, and now it’s like, oh, shit, here we go again.”

Six days after Traphagen’s visit, U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that work on the border wall that began under Trump is revving back up under Biden. In an online presentation Wednesday, CBP — the largest division of the Department of Homeland Security and home to the Border Patrol — detailed plans to address environmental damage brought on by the former president’s signature campaign promise and confirmed that the wall will remain a permanent fixture of the Southwest for generations to come.

The resumed operations will range from repairing gates and roads to filling gaps in the wall that were left following the pause on construction that Biden initiated in January 2021. The wall’s environmental harms have been particularly acute in southern Arizona, where CBP used explosives to blast through large swaths of protected land — including sacred Native American burial grounds and one-of-a-kind wildlife habitats — in service of Trump’s most expansive border wall extensions.

Starting next month, contractors will return to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona to resume work on the wall, senior CBP officials said in a public webinar. In the months since Biden’s pause began, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas approved several so-called remediation projects related to the border wall. The first plan that CBP presented for public comment was in the Tucson sector, the Border Patrol’s largest area of operations and site of Trump’s most dramatic and controversial border wall construction.

IN EARLY 2020, the press was invited to watch as Border Patrol and Department of Defense officials blew apart chunks of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, south of Tucson, to make way for Trump’s wall. The display followed months of protests, as the administration tapped into a rare desert aquifer that feeds Quitobaquito Springs, an oasis that the Hia-Ced O’odham people have held sacred for thousands of years.

Two Hia-Ced O’odham women were later arrested, strip-searched, and held incommunicado after praying and protesting at the construction site. Earlier this year, one of the two women, Amber Ortega, was found not guilty of the charges after a federal judge ruled that the prosecution violated her rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. . .

Continue reading.

It’s clear — it was clear under Trump and it’s clear now — that the border wall is expensive, ineffective (most illegal immigration is done through normal ports of entry and people overstay their visas), and an environmental disaster. Democrats opposed the wall. Has Biden just lost the plot?

Written by Leisureguy

18 September 2022 at 6:09 pm

Fossil Fuel Industry Seeks to Expand Free Speech for Corporations and Limit It for Citizens

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Amy Westervelt reports in the Intercept:

REPS. JAMIE RASKIN, D-Md., and Katie Porter, D-Calif., probably didn’t plan for their committee hearings to run at the exact same time this week, but the hearings sure were talking to each other.

In her Committee on Natural Resources hearing, Porter highlighted the role PR firms play in blocking climate policy. Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, and his selected witness, Amy Cooke, CEO of the conservative John Locke Foundation, expressed concern that preventing companies and their hired PR firms from spreading misinformation about climate change would have a chilling effect on free speech.

Meanwhile, the House Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, chaired by Raskin, focused on free speech attacks against environmentalists, digging into the fossil fuel industry’s attempts to curb citizens’ speech rights via strategic litigation and laws that criminalize protest. Taken together, the two are a perfect illustration of the industry’s First Amendment strategy: expand free speech for corporations, curb it for citizens.

Raskin’s free speech hearing focused on two key tactics: the increased filing of strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPPs — defamation suits aimed at penalizing citizens or citizen groups for exercising their First Amendment rights — and the proliferation of so-called critical infrastructure bills, which pile on fines and criminal sentences for those caught trespassing or vandalizing near pipelines, power plants, railroads, or other infrastructure. These anti-protest bills were a direct industry backlash to the Standing Rock protests in 2016 and 2017. Starting with a law passed in Oklahoma in 2017, they proliferated with the help of the industry group American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and the American Legislative Exchange Council, which drafts and disseminates pro-corporate model legislation for adoption by state governments. Seventeen states now have critical infrastructure laws on the books, with several more considering proposals.

“SLAPPs and anti-protest bills are really two sides of the same coin,” said Deepa Padmanabha, deputy general counsel for Greenpeace and a witness at Raskin’s hearing. “They’re tactics used by the same corporate actors to quash dissent. They’re pushing legislation to silence us, to criminalize our critiques through anti-protest bills. And they’re also filing SLAPP suits to silence dissent.”

Greenpeace has dealt with both. Greenpeace USA activists were arrested in 2019 under Texas’s felony critical infrastructure law for unfurling banners on a bridge, which temporarily blocked shipping. The goal of the action was to highlight the connection between the oil industry and climate change.

Greenpeace is engaged in active litigation in a couple of SLAPP suits too. In one, Energy Transfer, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, sued the organization for its role in the Standing Rock protests. The suit was initially filed in federal court and invoked the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, a law designed to prosecute organized crime. “Energy Transfer was alleging that our advocacy work to uplift Indigenous voices at Standing Rock constituted organized crime,” Padmanabha said.

Because RICO allows for damages to be tripled if a defendant is found guilty, Greenpeace faced a $1 billion fine. Losing that suit would have had a truly chilling effect on free speech. A federal judge threw out the case, but Energy Transfer filed again in North Dakota (minus the RICO charge), a state that doesn’t have an anti-SLAPP law on the books. . .

Continue reading. Things look bad, overall.

Written by Leisureguy

18 September 2022 at 6:03 pm

A surprisingly strong link between altitude and suicide in the U.S.

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(click to enlarge)

I’ll save you the trouble and say it myself: “Correlation does not mean causation.” (I’ll add: “Causation does create correlation.”) Ross Pomeroy writes at Big Think:

You may have heard about the benefits of living at higher altitudes. Available evidence suggests that inhabitants enjoy reduced mortality from cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and certain types of cancer, as the body is forced to adapt to a life with less oxygen.

But dwelling at higher elevations may be a double-edged sword. As strong as the evidence is for altitude’s physical benefits, there’s equally impressive data showing that living at higher altitudes has mental costs, particularly an increased risk of suicide. In a systematic review published in May, researchers pored over all available published studies on the topic. Of the 19 studies conducted, 17 found a link between higher altitude and suicide.

In one, Hoehun Ha, an assistant professor of geography at Auburn University at Montgomery, and his colleagues compared U.S. suicide rates at the county level with the average altitude in each county. Since suicide is heavily affected by a multitude of variables, they also controlled for socioeconomic and demographic factors, such as unemployment rate, rates of substance abuse, ethnicity, and the ratio of population to primary care physicians.

“We found that, for every increase of 100 meters in altitude, suicide rates increase by 0.4 per 100,000,” he wrote.

Another study published just this month examined the association between altitude and suicide rates in American veterans. Critically, the researchers behind it controlled for population density, among a variety of other potential confounders. Higher altitude areas are often more sparsely populated, so perhaps loneliness is what’s leading to higher suicide rates, not elevation. But even when factoring in population density, they found a strong correlation between altitude and suicide.

“We also analyzed the 50 counties with the highest suicide rates and the 50 counties with the lowest suicide rates for the U.S. veterans population and found that there was a 3-fold difference in the mean altitude between these two groups of counties,” they added.

Given that the link between altitude and suicide has been so thoroughly vetted, researchers’ next task is to explain it. They have focused on one leading hypothesis: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 September 2022 at 2:30 pm

Is Our Food Becoming Less Nutritious?

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9 September 2022 at 6:39 pm

Uruguay to Test Green-Hydrogen Appeal With Offshore Wind Tender

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Using electricity from a zero-emissions source (for example, wind or solar) to power electrolyzers that produce hydrogen from water to use as a zero-emissions fuel — that’s a win-win in anyone’s book. And, I would think, the oxygen that’s produced could also be of value.

Ken Parks reports for Bloomberg News:

Uruguay will gauge investor appetite for developing massive green hydrogen projects in the south Atlantic when it starts the tender of 10 offshore wind power blocs in the coming months covering an area the size of Delaware.

State energy company Ancap plans to publish bidding rules for offshore blocs this year and pick the winners in the second quarter of 2023, Chairman Alejandro Stipanicic said. He’s optimistic that some of the more than 40 oil drillers and renewable firms that inquired about the auction will submit bids. The power is earmarked for electrolyzers that strip hydrogen from water.

“We are offering blocs that have a certain potential that in our judgment justifies multibillion-dollar investments,” Stipanicic said in an interview. “It’s an offer that has attracted the attention of players that already said ‘we are decided to go for those blocs’.”

Oil majors like BP Plc and Shell Plc are pivoting to hydrogen at a time when countries are seeking to limit global warming and bolster energy security after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Global output of clean hydrogen could surge as much as 18-fold to 11.6 million metric tons a year by 2030 with strong backing by governments, according to BloombergNEF.

In a good year, Uruguay generates more than 95% of its electricity from renewable sources thanks to investments that poured into wind, solar and biomass power in the last decade. Now the administration of President Luis Lacalle Pou is pitching Uruguay’s untapped renewable resources and tax breaks to put the country on the path to becoming a global hydrogen exporter.

Uruguay’s efforts are starting to pay off with Germany’s Enertrag planning to build 350 megawatts of solar and wind power in northern Uruguay to produce 21,000 tons of hydrogen a year from 2025. Enertrag will process the hydrogen into 100,000 tons of e-methanol, potentially for export to Germany.

Each of the blocs Ancap will tender could generate at least 2.1 gigawatts of electricity, enough to make 187,000 tons of hydrogen a year, according to  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 September 2022 at 11:50 am

Engine Trouble

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1 September 2022 at 7:57 pm

Oceans Give, Oceans Take

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26 August 2022 at 1:29 pm

Wow! California to Ban the Sale of New Gasoline Cars after 2035

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This will accelerate the electric-car market. Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman report (gift link, no paywall) in the NY Times:

California is expected to put into effect on Thursday its sweeping plan to prohibit the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035, a groundbreaking move that could have major effects on the effort to fight climate change and accelerate a global transition toward electric vehicles.

“This is huge,” said Margo Oge, an electric vehicles expert who headed the Environmental Protection Agency’s transportation emissions program under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “California will now be the only government in the world that mandates zero-emission vehicles. It is unique.”

The rule, issued by the California Air Resources Board, will require that 100 percent of all new cars sold in the state by 2035 be free of the fossil fuel emissions chiefly responsible for warming the planet, up from 12 percent today. It sets interim targets requiring that 35 percent of new passenger vehicles sold in the state by 2026 produce zero emissions. That would climb to 68 percent by 2030.

The restrictions are important because not only is California the largest auto market in the United States, but more than a dozen other states typically follow California’s lead when setting their own auto emissions standards.

“The climate crisis is solvable if we focus on the big, bold steps necessary to stem the tide of carbon pollution,” Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, said in a statement.

California’s action comes on top of an expansive new climate law that President Biden signed last week. The law will invest $370 billion in spending and tax credits on clean energy programs, the largest action ever taken by the federal government to combat climate change. Enactment of that law is projected to help the United States cut its emissions 40 percent below 2005 levels by the end of this decade. Still, it will not be enough to eliminate U.S. emissions by 2050, the target that climate scientists say all major economies must reach if the world is to avert the most catastrophic and deadly impacts of climate change.

To help close the gap, White House officials have vowed to couple the bill with new regulations, including on automobile tailpipe emissions. They have also said that reducing emissions enough to stay in line with the science also will require aggressive state policies.

Experts said the new California rule, in both its stringency and reach, could stand alongside the Washington law as one of the world’s most important climate change policies, and could help take another significant bite out of the nation’s emissions of carbon dioxide. The new rule is also expected to influence new policies in Washington and around the world to promote electric vehicles and cut auto pollution. . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

California has 13 years to build up the infrastructure required (charging stations, mainly), and I bet new homes will right now start including a charging capability for electric cars — if I were building a home on spec, I would make sure that was included (competitive advantage over homes that lack that facility). And in fact I imagine new homes will soon be roofed with solar shingles.

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2022 at 11:43 am

Climate change/global warming: Point and counterpoint

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Written by Leisureguy

23 August 2022 at 11:47 am

A very bad sign: Alaska’s snow crabs have disappeared. Where they went is a mystery.

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Ominous news indeed. Laura Reiley reports (gift link, no paywall) in the Washington Post:

The theories are many. The crabs moved into Russian waters. They are dead because predators got them. They are dead because they ate each other. The crabs scuttled off the continental shelf and scientists just didn’t see them. Alien abduction.

 

Okay, not that last one. But everyone agrees on one point: The disappearance of Alaska’s snow crabs probably is connected to climate change. Marine biologists and those in the fishing industry fear the precipitous and unexpected crash of this luxury seafood item is a harbinger, a warning about how quickly a fishery can be wiped out in this new, volatile world.

 

Gabriel Prout and his brothers Sterling and Ashlan were blindsided. Harvests of Alaskan king crab — the bigger, craggier species that was the star of the television show “Deadliest Catch” — have been on a slow decline for over a decade. But in 2018 and 2019, scientists had seemingly great news about Alaska’s snow crabs: Record numbers of juvenile crabs were zooming around the ocean bottom, suggesting a massive haul for subsequent fishing seasons.

Prout, 32, and his brothers bought out their father’s partner, becoming part owners of the 116-foot Silver Spray. They took out loans and bought $4 million in rights to harvest a huge number of crabs. It was a year that many young commercial fishers in the Bering Sea bought into the fishery, going from deckhands to owners. Everyone was convinced the 2021 snow crab season was going to be huge.

And then they weren’t there.

Scientists, despite earlier optimistic signs, found that snow crab stocks were down 90 percent. The season opened and the total allowable harvest went from 45 million pounds to 5.5 million pounds. Commercial fishers couldn’t even catch that quantity.

In October 2021, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed the king crab season entirely to harvesting, for the first time since the 1990s. . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

Humans have for a few centuries used the ocean as a garbage dump, particularly since the Industrial Revolution. Now we suffer the consequences — though, to be fair, the actual cause of the snow crabs’ absence is still under investigation — but polluting the oceans certainly is no help. Nor is overfishing, for that matter. And I imagine climate change — treating the atmosphere as a garbage dump — may also play a role — and again, that pollution greatly increased with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Written by Leisureguy

22 August 2022 at 2:49 pm

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