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Dilemma: Past and Future of Science in Society

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 1:04 AM GMT on March 12, 2017

Dilemma: Past and Future of Science in Society

Dilemma: I like those old Greek words. They suggest hope, or perhaps, hopelessness. It is pretty clear from, say, Aristotle’s Treatise on Rhetoric, that the types of political arguments and of political behavior we see today have been around a long time. That includes attacks on reason, logic, and science. Hope, perhaps, is represented in that this is something that we have seen before. Hopelessness, because there is seemingly nothing that can be settled by knowledge as long as knowledge is in conflict with want, belief, and emotion.

Since my transition to the chaos of Trump, I have been trying to find a foundation for analysis. We often search for such a foundation in past behavior and past experience. This leads to what I will call the past-future dilemma, which is, should we try what we have done with success in the past, or does the future require something different?

Since I have been a grown up scientist, I have been an advocate for open data and open access to knowledge. For example, if one is involved with a research instrument on a satellite, then I advocated that data from that satellite should be made available to the public as soon as there is high confidence in the quality control and verification that the data are indeed measuring what they were intended to measure.

My point of view stands in tension with a number of other points of view. There is the desire for payoff opportunity for those who collected the data; namely, that the person or team who spent, perhaps, many years in the design and building of the instrument had earned the right to have some proprietary right of use in order to write the papers that bring them credit and recognition. There is the error worry – a new data set is likely to have errors and surprises that lead to misinterpretation and wasted time. There is the ignorance worry – untrained users will naively misuse the data. These points of view suggest a data availability protocol that is to some extent closed.

The reconciliation of these points of view is more often than not, some sort of compromise or balance. The same is often true with the past-future dilemma; you use some elements of past experience, rearrange them, and add some new elements that are different.

In 2010, I was in a meeting with, for me, some pretty high rollers. The subject of the meeting was climate and climate change and, ultimately, trying to accelerate the exposure and use of climate knowledge in society. I was invited specifically to argue for open, community-based approaches. As the day went on, I was struck at the profound past looking, conservative, predisposition of scientists. There was the predominate concern that the data, knowledge, analyses, and syntheses from the science-based investigation of climate needed to be curated, reviewed, and provided by scientists and scientific organizations. This was how to provide credibility that the knowledge was good. This would contribute to trust.

Another attendee at the meeting, who came from the world of getting things done in political systems, whispered to me, “You have to keep talking or scientists are going to make themselves irrelevant to policy solutions to climate change.”

To be clear, that statement was not about the availability of data; there are many open data sets. It was a statement about the culture of scientists, and the tensions that come from use of science in society.

I understand the conservative nature of scientists and the scientific method. I respect the scientific method as our most robust way of reasoning and generating of knowledge and the uncertainty that describes that knowledge. I believe it is a duty of scientific organizations to provide curated, reviewed, and credible scientific data, knowledge, analyses, and syntheses. However, science and scientific knowledge need to be a pervasive part of society, which requires reduction of barriers, opening the doors, and removing the mystic. This would contribute to trust.

Many people advocate the practice of informed, science-based, knowledge-based decision making in policy, government, and management. Such practice seems self-evident. However, such practice does not rule the day. Proponents and opponents use scientific uncertainty to support their positions; the call for more research is a tactic that appears on both sides of the aisle, left and right, liberal and conservative. When making decisions, individuals, institutions, corporations, and governments, rarely, wait for the measured, objective reconciliation of all the tradeoffs that contribute to science-based conclusions.

I have been teaching climate change problem solving for more than a decade. We use real-world cases, and it is almost universal, that “climate science” plays an indirect role in the end. Sometimes, the end decision is “climate informed,” which: might include incorporation of some resilience; might be a yellow flag to keep an eye out for how the climate is actually changing; or might just be documenting that climate change could be important but was not substantively considered.

The reality of our world is that we have to be able to access, scan, and evaluate available information at the speed that is relevant to the problem at hand. My approach to this has been to train students who are anchored in science-based knowledge and able with the scientific method. My goal is that science-informed people will be able to access, scan, and evaluate information in a way that contributes to science-informed outcomes. This requires open and available data, information, and knowledge.

We live at a moment that is anti-science and many, more able than I, have been analyzing the emergence of anti-science points of view. What is presently occurring at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the dissolution of one of our bravest and most successful efforts of science-based, knowledge-based decision making in policy, government, and management.

I can look at the attack on science and the dissolution of the EPA in some historical context as a cycle of competing philosophies of government and governance - regulation and unregulated. This is, perhaps, an extreme cycle. There can be comfort knowing that at some time in the future the cycle will swing back.

However, this does not feel like a cycle; it feels like a critical point, where there is a separation between future and past. The election of President Trump is not the cause of this critical point; it is part of the transition. Access to information, opinions, ideologies, conspiracies, sociopathic rants, allies, and hostiles is changing individuals, communities, and institutions. This democratization of information supports the easy use of science to support wants, beliefs, and emotions. It weakens the foundation for evidenced-based, science-based decision making. There is little evidence that we will return to the past.

If we carry forward with the conservative, past-looking point of view of restoring trust in science and scientific institutions by trying to recapture what we have done in the past, we will, indeed, make science irrelevant to decisions anytime that science is in conflict with the wants, beliefs, and emotions of those in power.

In my first piece on environmental issues in the Trump administration, I maintained that new coalitions of organizations are possible, which can align to solve problems rather than to wage political warfare. That it was essential for science to shed itself of its partisan relationships.

When I wrote about new coalitions and alignments, I was envisioning incremental shifts in positions, perhaps relinquishing exaggerated feelings of rightness and wrongness, us and them. Having watched the evolution of the past few weeks, I think that we have to think about the credibility and trust of science and scientists in fundamentally different ways. Scientists and science must become nimble and more relevant – a permeating, participatory part of the citizenry.

The same information web that allows movements that erode a science-based society also supports connections that support a science-based society. We must go far beyond the politically active scientist or the scientist advocate. Science and the advancement of science need to include the voices and hands of those who are not scientists. Those who will organize, synthesize, present, and use this knowledge in ways that scientists will consider imprecise. Otherwise, groups of scientists and science advocates look like trade groups, lobbyists, advocating in their own self-interest.

Science as a value must be prepared to compete with other values and movements that scientists, on an instinctual level, are inclined to dismiss. Their dismissal, however, will only contribute to the growth of the anti-science.

The security of our future requires that a science-informed citizenry emerges and participates in the political and cultural battles. In controversial problems, for my entire career, I have heard at their resolution that it always comes down to “the science,” and the science always wins. That will not be true if it remains only a benign expectation.

r

I continue to collect resources at my OpenClimate Tumblr Site.

Here are those on the Environmental Protection Agency.

Here are those on the emerging Response of the Science Community

Here is a compilation of my blogs and editorials during the Trump Transition


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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81. Xandra
11:22 AM GMT on March 24, 2017
From the Guardian:

Breitbart's James Delingpole says reef bleaching is 'fake news', hits peak denial

Coral bleaching 'has changed the Great Barrier Reef forever' – video

It takes a very special person to label the photographed, documented, filmed and studied phenomenon of mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef “fake news”.

You need lashings of chutzpah, blinkers the size of Donald Trump’s hairspray bill and more hubris than you can shake a branch of dead coral at.

It also helps if you can hide inside the bubble of the hyper-partisan Breitbart media outlet, whose former boss is the US president’s chief strategist.

So our special person is the British journalist James Delingpole who, when he’s not denying the impacts of coral bleaching, is denying the science of human-caused climate change, which he says is “the biggest scam in the history of the world”.

Delingpole was offended this week by an editorial in the Washington Post that read: “Humans are killing the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, and there’s nothing Australians on their own can do about it. We are all responsible.”

Delingpole wrote:

Like the thriving polar bear, like the recovering ice caps, like the doing-just-fine Pacific islands, the Great Barrier Reef has become a totem for the liberal-left not because it’s in any kind of danger but because it’s big and famous and photogenic and lots and lots of people would be really sad if it disappeared. But it’s not going to disappear. That’s just a #fakenews lie designed to promote the climate alarmist agenda.

[...]

“Have they been out there personally – as I have – to check. No of course not,” says Delingpole.

Yes. James Delingpole has been out there “personally” to check, but all those other people haven’t. He doesn’t say when he went but he has written about one trip before. It was back in late April 2012. Everything was fine, he said, based on that one visit. I can’t find any times when he has mentioned another trip since.

[...]

Why should there not be equivalence between Delingpole’s single trip to the reef (apparently taken 10 years after a previous severe case of bleaching and four years before the one that followed) at one spot on a reef system that spans the size of Italy [takes breath] and the observations of scientists from multiple institutions diving at 150 different locations to verify observations taken by even more scientists in low-flying aircraft traversing the entire length of the reef?

I mean, come on? Why can those two things – Delingpole making a boat trip with mates and a coordinated and exhaustive scientific monitoring and data-gathering exercise – not be the same?

So it seems we are now at a stage where absolutely nothing is real unless you have seen it for yourself, so you can dismiss all of the photographs and video footage of bleached and dead coral, the testimony of countless marine biologists (who, we apparently also have to point out, have been to the reef ) and the observations made by the government agency that manages the reef.

Senator Pauline Hanson and her One Nation climate science-denying colleagues tried to pull a similar stunt last year by taking a dive on a part of the reef that had escaped bleaching and then claiming this as proof that everything was OK everywhere else.

This is like trying to disprove to a doctor that you have two broken legs by showing him an MRI scan of your head (which may or not reveal the presence of a brain), and then being annoyed when he doesn’t accept your evidence.

It’s as though we’ve reached peak denial.

[...]

This month a study published in Nature, and co-authored by 46 scientists, found these three episodes had impacted reefs “across almost the entire Great Barrier Reef marine park”. Only southern offshore reefs had escaped.

[...]

Essentially, the study found the only measure that would give corals on the reef a fighting chance was to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The lead author of the study, Prof Terry Hughes of James Cook University (who is this week carrying out aerial surveys of the current bleaching episode), told my Positive Feedback podcast:

We can’t climate-proof reefs. Sure, there’s stuff we need to do be doing locally around water quality and fisheries management, but doing these two things alone is not going to protect the reefs in the long term. The elephant in the room here is climate change.

[...]

Dr Mark Eakin, head of Coral Reef Watch at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the cause of the modern-day mass bleaching episodes on reefs across the world was the rise in ocean temperatures.

This, says Eakin, is “being driven largely by humans and our burning of fossil fuels”.

Government ministers at federal and state levels, of both political stripes, claim they want to protect the reef.

They are running this protection racket, somehow, by continuing to support plans for a coalmine that will be the biggest in the country’s history.

That’s some more hubris right there.

Click here to read full article.
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80. Xandra
10:12 AM GMT on March 24, 2017
From Reuters:

California board adopts strictest U.S. methane rules

California's decision came as U.S. Senate prepared to vote on repealing rule limiting methane venting and leaking on federal lands

March 23 (Reuters) - California's air quality board voted unanimously on Thursday to approve methane regulations touted as the strictest adopted yet in the United States for controlling emissions of the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

The rules, approved by the California Air Resources Board, tighten efficiency requirements for production and transportation of natural gas and for some oil-handling equipment, including installation of emissions-recapture technology.

They also mandate more stringent monitoring and reporting of potential gas leaks as a means of pinpointing and repairing them quickly.

Methane, the main component of commercially distributed natural gas, is also a byproduct of oil extraction. Pound for pound, it traps significantly more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas, though its effects are shorter-lived.

[...]

The action comes more than a year after a massive methane leak at the Aliso Canyon gas storage field, owned by the Southern California Gas Co, forced thousands of residents from their homes in the nearby Porter Ranch community of Los Angeles.

The well rupture that caused the leak, the largest known accidental methane release in U.S. history, took nearly four months to plug and was estimated to have had a larger climate impact than the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Environmental Defense Fund director Tim O'Connor, whose group helped devise the state regulations, said California's action was all the more important in light of the Trump administration's vow to curb EPA regulations.

"If the federal government won't protect the people and the environment from oil and gas pollution, it has to be up to the states," he said.

[...]

Click here to read full article.
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78. Xandra
10:15 PM GMT on March 23, 2017
From the Bad Astronomy blog:

Our planet is melting at both ends: Arctic and Antarctica hit record low ice extents



[...]

It’s rare in science you can say something with anything near 100% certainty. And yet, here we are: Climate change due to global warming is real, and it’s because of us. We add 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the air every year. This upsets the Earth’s natural heat balance, allowing a small amount of warming sunlight to stick around rather than get radiated out into space.

Our planet is heating up, humans are the reason, and we know this to be a fact. Yet our politicians in charge deny this very simple and critical truth [the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology just announced a hearing on climate science for next week, and invited four scientists to testify; one is realist Michael Mann (invited by the minority Committee members, of course) and the other three are well-known figures who downplay the effects of global warming on climate], even going so far as to deny the incredibly basic science about greenhouse effects we’ve known for over a century.

We’ll be seeing more statements and legislation coming from this science-denying Congressional majority as time goes by. When it happens, I urge you to contact your Senators and Representatives. Let them know that climate change is real, it’s now, and not only is it a threat national security, but denial of it is a national security as well, and we have to do what we can to stop it.

Click here to read full article.
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77. Patrap
9:30 PM GMT on March 23, 2017
Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Another Record Low
NASA Goddard




The March 7, 2017, Arctic sea ice maximum extent was a record low, due to warmer-than-average temperatures, winds unfavorable to ice expansion, and a series of storms. Antarctic sea ice also broke a record with its annual minimum extent on March 3.

Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Download this video in HD formats and view full credit information from NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio
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76. Xandra
8:59 PM GMT on March 23, 2017
From the Guardian:

Global warming is increasing rainfall rates

A new study looks at the complex relationship between global warming and increased precipitation

[...]

It’s a well-known scientific principle that warmer air holds more water vapor. In fact, the amount of moisture that can be held in air grows very rapidly as temperatures increase. So, it’s expected that in general, air will get moister as the Earth warms – provided there is a moisture source. This may cause more intense rainfalls and snow events, which lead to increased risk of flooding.

But warmer air can also more quickly evaporate water from surfaces. This means that areas where it’s not precipitating dry out more quickly. In fact, it’s likely that some regions will experience both more drought and more flooding in the future (just not at the same time!). [...]

Okay so what have we observed? It turns out our expectations were correct. Observations reveal more intense rainfalls and flooding in some areas. But in other regions there’s more evaporation and drying with increased drought. Some areas experience both.

Some questions remain. When temperatures get too high, there’s no continued increase in intense rain events. In fact, heavy precipitation events decrease at the highest temperatures. There are some clear reasons for this but for brevity, regardless of where measurements are made on Earth, there appears to be an increase of precipitation with temperature up until a peak and thereafter, more warming coincides with decreased precipitation.

A new clever study by Dr. Guiling Wang from the University of Connecticut and her colleagues has looked into this and they’ve made a surprising discovery. Their work was just published in Nature Climate Change. They report that the peak temperature (the temperature where maximum precipitation occurs) is not fixed in space or time. It is increasing in a warming world.

The idea is shown in the sketch below. Details vary with location but, as the world warms, there is a shift from one curve to the next, from left to right. The result is a shift such that more intense precipitation occurs at higher temperatures in future, while the drop-off moves to even higher temperatures.


An idealized example of increasing precipitation curves as the world warms for the Midwest. Illustration: John Abraham

The authors also looked at how we characterize the temperature/precipitation relationship. Traditionally, we have related precipitation events to the local average temperature. However, it’s clear that there’s a strong relationship between the peak temperature and the precipitation rates. In fact, relations reveal that precipitation rates are increasing between 5 and 10% for every degree C increase. The expected rate of increase, just based on thermodynamics is 7%.

The authors find that in some parts of the globe, the relationship is even stronger. For instance, in the tropics, there’s more than a 10% increase in precipitation for a degree Celsius increase in temperature. This is not unexpected because precipitation releases latent heat, which can in turn invigorate storms.

From a practical standpoint, this helps us plan for climate change (it is already occurring) including planning resiliency. In the United States, there has been a marked increase in the most intense rainfall events across the country. This has resulted in more severe flooding throughout the country.

[...]

Click here to read full article.
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75. 999Ai2016
11:19 AM GMT on March 23, 2017
Climate breaks multiple records in 2016, with global impacts (Press Release)
WMO, March 21.

The year 2016 made history, with a record global temperature, exceptionally low sea ice, and unabated sea level rise and ocean heat, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Extreme weather and climate conditions have continued into 2017.

(...) WMO has issued annual climate reports for more than 20 years and submits them to the Conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The annual statements complement the assessments reports that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces every six to seven years.

It will be presented to UN member states and climate experts at a high-level action event on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda in New York on 23 March (World Meteorological Day) hosted by the President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson. (...)



WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2016 (.pdf document, 28 pages)

- Foreword
- Preface
- Executive Summary

Key findings

- Temperature
- The oceans
- Greenhouse gases
- The cryosphere in 2016
- Major climate drivers
- Precipitation
- Extreme events
- Tropical cyclones
- Destructive wildfires in several parts of the world
- Extreme heat and cold
- Severe storms, snowfalls and tornadoes
- Stratospheric ozone

Towards globally consistent National Climate Monitoring Products
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73. Patrap
8:32 PM GMT on March 22, 2017



Capital Weather Gang
Gulf of Mexico waters are freakishly warm, which could mean explosive springtime storms



Water temperatures at the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and near South Florida are on fire. They spurred a historically warm winter from Houston to Miami and could fuel intense thunderstorms in the spring from the South to the Plains.

In the Gulf, the average sea surface temperature never fell below 73 degrees over the winter for the first time on record, reported Eric Berger of Ars Technica.

Galveston, Tex., has tied or broken an astonishing 33 record highs since Nov. 1, while neighboring Houston had its warmest winter on record. Both cities have witnessed precious few days with below-normal temperatures since late fall.


Average temperature rankings along the coast of the western Gulf of Mexico this winter. (Southeast Regional Climate Center)
More often than not, temperatures have averaged at least 10 degrees warmer than normal. “The consistency and persistence of the warmth was the defining element of this winter,” said Matt Lanza, a Houston-based meteorologist, who has closely tracked the region’s temperatures.

Warmer-than-normal weather is predicted to continue in Galveston and Houston, with afternoon temperatures of 80 to 85 degrees through the weekend (normal highs are in the mid-70s).

“A steamy Gulf has meant that any time winds blow out of the south, we’re not going to cool down that much overnight, and daytime temperatures can warm pretty quickly,” wrote Berger, who also pens the Houston weather blog Space City Weather.

To the south of Galveston and Houston, Brownsville, McAllen and Harlingen all posted their warmest winters on record, by large margins. “Call it the ‘Usain Bolt’ of records: Leaving the others in the dust!” tweeted the National Weather Service forecast office in Brownsville.

The abnormally warm temperatures curled around the Gulf, helping Baton Rouge and New Orleans reach their warmest Februaries on record.

Meanwhile, a ribbon of toasty sea surface temperatures streamed north through the Straits of Florida supporting record-setting warmth over parts of the Florida peninsula.

Miami and Fort Lauderdale both posted their warmest winters on record. Climate Central, a nonprofit science communications firm in Princeton, N.J., found 80 percent of the winter days in Miami, Orlando and Tampa were above normal.


(Brian McNoldy)
“Out of 90 days this winter, Miami saw a record setting 69 of them reach 80°F or warmer!” wrote Miami broadcast meteorologist John Morales for the website WxShift, a project of Climate Central. “In addition, 11 daily record high temperatures were set as were 8 daily record warm low temperatures and 2 monthly record warm low temperatures.”

[Forty years ago Miami saw its only snow. These days, it’s simmering in record heat.]

Brian McNoldy, a tropical weather researcher at the University of Miami, said that in addition to the warm water temperatures, a lack of cold fronts penetrating into Florida played a big role in the warmth. “We’ve not had strong, long-lasting cold fronts make it this far south,” he said.

Effects of warm Gulf waters on thunderstorms and hurricanes

The warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, in particular, could mean that thunderstorms that erupt over the southern and central United States are more severe this spring. Berger explained in his Ars Technica piece: “While the relationship is far from absolute, scientists have found that when the Gulf of Mexico tends to be warmer than normal, there is more energy for severe storms and tornadoes to form than when the Gulf is cooler.”


(NOAA)
A study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in December found: “The warmer (cooler) the Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperatures, the more (less) hail and tornadoes occur during March–May over the southern U.S.”

Victor Gensini, a professor of meteorology at the College of DuPage, agreed that the warm Gulf could intensify storms this spring but cautioned that additional ingredients will need to come together. “The water is only one piece,” he said.

An additional key component for severe thunderstorms is a phenomenon known as the elevated mixed layer, a zone of hot and dry air at high altitudes that develops over Mexico’s high plateau and can flow into the southern and central United States. When it interacts with the warm, moist air from the Gulf, the resulting instability can give rise to explosive thunderstorms.

“This year we have both ingredients,” Gensini said. “With them coming together, we’re already seeing tornado levels as high as they’ve been since 2008.”

Another favorable ingredient for severe weather this spring is the configuration of water temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean. When there is a warm pool of water off the coast of Peru (which has contributed in extreme flooding there) and a cold pool off the U.S. West coast, such a pattern strongly correlates with high tornado activity, according to research conducted at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Gensini, who leads a team that produces severe weather outlooks up to three weeks into the future, is calling for above-average thunderstorm activity for the week beginning March 26, with high confidence.

A vigorous jet stream disturbance, originating from the Pacific Ocean, will crash into the southwestern United States around March 28. Once it enters the Plains around March 29 and March 30, it is likely to tap into the warm Gulf water and encounter the elevated mixed layer. Then severe storms may erupt.

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Such conducive environments for severe weather may increase due to climate change, Gensini said, although he expects high year-to-year to variability — something already being observed.

[Studies: Tornado seasons peaking earlier, becoming more volatile]

The implications of the warm water for hurricane season, June 1 to Nov. 30, are less clear. Warmer-than-normal water temperatures can make tropical storms and hurricanes more intense, but wind shear and atmospheric moisture levels often play more important roles in hurricane formation, Berger reported.
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71. Xandra
5:34 PM GMT on March 22, 2017
From the Guardian:

World Water Day: one in four children will live with water scarcity by 2040

Unicef report says climate change and conflict are intensifying risks to children of living without enough water, and that the poorest will suffer most


A Sudanese woman fills water bottles held by a young boy in North Darfur state. Within two decades 600 million children will be in regions enduring extreme water stress. Photograph: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images

One in four of the world’s children will be living in areas with extremely limited water resources by 2040 as a result of climate change, the UN has warned.

Within two decades, 600 million children will be in regions enduring extreme water stress, with a great deal of competition for the available supply. The poorest and most disadvantaged will suffer most, according to research published by the children’s agency, Unicef, to mark World Water Day on Wednesday.

[...]

The report, Thirsting for a Future: Water and Children in a Changing Climate, looked at the threats to children’s lives and wellbeing caused by depleted sources of safe water and the ways in which climate change will intensify these risks.

[...]

Another report published on Wednesday warned that Iran is grappling with an unprecedented water crisis, and faces a greater threat from its environmental challenges than those arising from regional political issues or terrorism. The study, from London-based NGO Small Media, said that shortages could transform vast swaths of the country into near-uninhabitable areas in the coming decades.

“Iran is facing a water crisis that is unparallelled in its modern history. Lakes and rivers are dying, droughts are increasing in frequency, and even Iran’s deepest groundwater reserves are being sucked dry by Iran’s growing population and its thirsty agricultural sector,” the report said.

[...]

Across the world, the UN’s report says that 36 countries are facing extremely high levels of water stress, which occurs when demand far exceeds the renewable supply available. Warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, increased floods, droughts and melting ice affect the quality and availability of water, as do sanitation systems.

[...]

The NGO WaterAid published findings on Tuesday of how vulnerable rural communities’ struggles to access clean water were being compounded by extreme weather events and climate change.

[...]

WaterAid is calling on international and national leaders to deliver on promises to meet the sustainable development goals, including a goal to ensure access to safe water and sanitation.

Click here to read full article.
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70. Xandra
12:47 PM GMT on March 22, 2017
From The Japan Times:


The snow-covered summit of Mount Illimani is seen from La Paz Golf Club in the Bolivian capital, with indigenous Aymara women in the foreground, in November 2008. | AFP-JIJI

As glaciers melt, project seeks to preserve ice cores showing climate history

PARIS – Locked up in 140 meters (460 feet) of ice capping a Bolivian mountain lie 18,000 years of climate history, dating back to an epoch when humans were only just learning to farm.

But this precious archive of environmental change since the last Ice Age is melting fast, to the despair of scientists.

They have decided to take matters in hand, in a remarkable initiative that combines glaciology with high-altitude trekking.

An international team will set out in May on a grueling trip up Bolivia’s 6,400-meter Mount Illimani to drill three ice cores from its crowning glacier.

These will be preserved for posterity, along with cores from other glaciers, in the natural freezer that is Antarctica.

“Eventually, these ice cores will be all that is left of the glaciers,” said Jerome Chappellaz of France’s CNRS research institute, a partner in the endeavor, which has been dubbed Ice Memory.

Glacier ice contains traces of gas, chemicals and dust. Analyzed in the lab, this is a treasure trove of data on past changes in the climate and environment, including rainfall trends, forest fires, atmospheric temperatures, levels of greenhouse gases and chemical pollutants. They provide a crucial benchmark for understanding how our climate is mutating.

“The glaciers … hold the memory of former climates and help to predict future environmental changes,” said the Institute of Research for Development (IRD), another French mission member.

But time is running out.

“If global warming continues at its current rate, glaciers at an altitude below 3,500 meters in the Alps and 5,400 meters in the Andes will have disappeared by the end of the 21st century,” said the IRD. “These are unique pages in the history of our environment which will … be lost forever.”

Click here to read more.
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69. Pipejazz
12:30 PM GMT on March 22, 2017
Heat associated with mental illness...

Link
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68. Xandra
12:10 PM GMT on March 22, 2017
From EWG:

EWG Report: Is Federal Crop Insurance Policy Leading to a New Dust Bowl?



AMES, Iowa – Federal crop insurance policy is rewarding Southern Great Plains farmers’ failure to adapt to drought and hotter weather, and encouraging practices that could lead to another Dust Bowl, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group.

The Dust Bowl that devastated the region in the 1930s was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. Searing heat and drought, the conversion of more than five million acres of grassland into cropland, and farmers’ failure to adapt to the dry climate inflicted disease, hunger and poverty on the region’s people.

Today drought is once again parching the Southern Plains. Scientists say hot and dry conditions could become the region’s new normal, making it urgent that farmers adapt to the changing climate. Instead, a provision of the federal crop insurance program – snuck into the 2014 Farm Bill with little notice – encourages farmers to plant the same crops in the same way, year after year.

Click here to read more.

EWG Report: Is Federal Crop Insurance Policy Leading to a New Dust Bowl?

INTERACTIVE MAP

---------------

See also: Farm Policy in Age of Climate Change Creating Another Dust Bowl, Critics Say

"When people think of the Dust Bowl, they think of it as a drought. It was really about poor farming practices, plus drought," Cox said. "Absent the poor farming practices, it wouldn't have been the disaster it became."
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
67. Xandra
11:10 PM GMT on March 21, 2017
From CNN:

Neil deGrasse Tyson goes supernova on Trump budget

Video: deGrasse Tyson: 'I'm duty-bound to educate the citizenry' 06:44

(CNN) Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson believes President Donald Trump's first proposed budget could make America "weak," "sick" and "stupid."

"The fastest way to Make America Weak Again: Cut science funds to our agencies that support it," he tweeted Sunday as part of a social media rampage against the President. "The fastest way to Make America Sick Again: Cut funding to the National Institutes of Health."

"The fastest way to Make America Stupid: Cut funds to programs that support education," Tyson added. "The fastest way to thwart Earth's life-support systems for us all: Turn EPA into EDA — the Environmental Destruction Agency."

[...]

"We can all imagine a land that provides no support for Art. But is that a place you'd want to Live? To Visit? To Play," Tyson tweeted.

"We all want to Make America Great Again. But that won't happen until we first Make America Smart Again," he added.

Click here to read full article.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
65. iceagecoming
11:57 AM GMT on March 21, 2017
Quoting 59. Xandra:

From InsideClimate News:

Former EPA Officials: Trump Budget Is Even Worse Than It Seems

Harsh cuts proposed by Trump administration an 'all-out assault on clean air and clean water,' says former EPA chief Gina McCarthy.


Former EPA chief Gina McCarthy harshly criticized Trump's proposed budget cuts to the agency. Credit: Getty Images

As the environmental world copes with the budget outline unveiled by President Trump on Thursday, two former EPA administrators and a longtime environmental justice official have more sobering news: It's actually worse than you think.

The budget blueprint handed down from the White House sent the unmistakable message that it plans to take a hacksaw to climate action. And no agency fell more directly in its path than the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Literally and figuratively this budget is a scorched earth budget," said Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator under President Obama. "It represents really an all-out assault on clean air and clean water and our ability to have safe homes, schools and places to work."

Click here to read more.





HONEST Act – EPA Science and Transparency

This should be ‘science 101’

Posted by Jason Hayes on March 13, 2017 at 3:00pm

On March 6, members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee introduced the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017 (HONEST Act). At the same time, Reps. Frank Lucas, R-OK, and Lamar Smith, R-TX, proposed legislation to reform the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board.

Rep. Smith explained why the HONEST Act was introduced. “An open and honest scientific process is long overdue at EPA. American taxpayers have often had to foot the bill for regulations and rules based on hidden science that has not been available for review by the public. … This bill would prohibit any future regulations from taking effect unless the underlying scientific data is public.”

He also defended the Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2017. “The SAB at EPA,” he said, “has the opportunity to include a more balanced group of scientists to assist EPA in fulfilling its core mission.” He added, “This bill would ensure that scientists advising EPA on regulatory decisions are not the same scientists receiving EPA grants.”

The Office of Science Advisor within the EPA says, “Science is the backbone of EPA's decision-making. The Agency's ability to pursue its mission to protect human health and the environment depends upon the integrity of the science on which it relies.”

The OSA continues by describing the importance of scientific integrity, using words like objectivity, clarity, and reproducibility. It also notes that scientific integrity “helps to build public support” as “people are more likely to support the Agency if they can trust the quality and integrity of the work.”

On those matters, I’m confident that most people would agree. The public should expect federal agencies to use credible, reproducible, and transparent science to support their regulatory efforts.

As President Reagan noted, though, we can trust, but should still verify, and the average person should not be viewed as unreasonable for asking “Why?” when faced with new, life-changing regulations. “Just trust us” is not good enough when regulations will affect the availability or expense of energy, cost people their jobs or raise prices and restrict access to essential goods and services.

Of course, this isn’t the first effort by Congress to impose transparency on the EPA. The Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 and 2015 both attempted to address this issue. However, some in the Senate attacked the bills as laughable and even insane. President Obama promised to veto the bills if they ever made it to his desk.

Smith says, though, that the EPA has not lived up to its stated commitment to scientific integrity. Others agree; the agency has faced a growing chorus of critics who say it is not transparent and uses questionable practices when it appoints scientists to its advisory board.

For example, the Energy and Environment Legal Institute has worked for years, using Freedom of Information Act requests and lawsuits, to force transparency on the agency.

The institute’s work has revealed, among other things, that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson had secret email accounts. Additionally, EPA staffers were found to have used personal email accounts, apparently to avoid federal requirements for preserving and reporting data. The institute also found out about a string of secret meetings and communications between senior EPA officials and environmental groups carried on while the agency was preparing energy-focused regulations.

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee also experienced difficulties when dealing with the EPA. In April 2016, Sen. Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma who chaired the committee, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy describing a strained, multi-year interaction between the EPA and the committee. He noted serious “concerns the agency is not committed to a transparent or meaningful public input process” for selecting members of the advisory board.

Transparency in this area is absolutely essential as the board is the primary means of peer review for the EPA’s science. However, the Congressional Research Service has shown that, in 2014, board members had received substantial EPA-funded research grants. Those grants raise the obvious question: To what degree (if at all) has the presence of a substantial funding relationship affected the peer review decisions of the agency’s advisory board?

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has a consistent track record of calling for transparency from all levels of government and publicly funded organizations. This case is no different.

Some will bemoan demands for transparency in EPA science and peer-review processes as a partisan attempt to hinder the agency. But the reality is that open, public access to the science underlying regulation — the science that affects everyone’s lives and the science we have all paid for — should be a basic, first principle. Furthermore, we should be able to expect that the peer review process EPA regulators tell us is trustworthy is not carried out by scientists who also rely on the agency for funding.

These expectations are eminently reasonable. In fact, they should be science 101.

https://www.mackinac.org/honest-act-epa-science-a nd-transparency
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
63. Xandra
9:20 PM GMT on March 20, 2017
From Reuters:

Teens suing U.S. over climate change ask for Exxon's 'Wayne Tracker' emails



Lawyers for a group of teenagers suing the U.S. government in a climate change case have asked the government and the oil industry's leading trade group to turn over emails sent and received by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson using an alias address while he was running Exxon Mobil.

"It's possible that Rex Tillerson was communicating with people in government related to climate and energy policy using that email address," Julia Olson, a lawyer for the teenagers, said on Monday, referring to the alias address

Wayne.Tracker@exxonmobil.com.

[...]

The teenagers' case, filed in federal court in Oregon, seeks to prove government officials and oil industry leaders knew about the causes and effects of climate change but nevertheless carried on with policies that perpetuated it, violating Americans' constitutional right to live in a habitable climate.

The federal government has argued in court filings that there is no support for the claim that Americans are constitutionally entitled to a protected climate, while the API has said climate science is not firmly established enough to support the teenagers' case.

Spokespeople for the Justice Department, Exxon and the API did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"Based on evidence we already have, it's pretty clear that Rex Tillerson, Exxon and API all knew that climate change was very significant and was being caused by burning fossil fuels," Olson said. "To the extent that we can get information through Wayne Tracker emails that they were openly acknowledging climate change was a big problem and trying to influence the government on how to deal with it, that helps our case."

The case is Juliana v. U.S., U.S. District Court, District of Oregon (Eugene), No. 15-cv-01517.

Click here to read full article.

----------

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
62. Xandra
10:05 PM GMT on March 19, 2017
From Mental Floss

10 Facts About Being a Climate Scientist—From Climate Scientists

[...]

10. THEY THINK ABOUT TIME DIFFERENTLY.



Teaching university students about climate, White says he’s reminded on a daily basis of the fact that he thinks about time differently than most. “When I talk with my students about timeframes of interest, theirs may be Thursday night. But I have multiple ones because of what I do. I’m trained to think in tens of thousands of years. And I think quite a bit about the next 50, 100, 200 years.”

White says he and his international colleagues spend time on research expeditions talking about their children and grandchildren, pondering how the world can get beyond short-term thinking in order to be better prepared for the enormous global changes that will affect future generations.

“Human beings are capable of altering the planet long before we’re capable of understanding the ramifications of that," he says. "We say we love our kids, but do we show it? We will never deal with climate change until we learn to value our children and grandchildren at the 50-year timescale.”

Click here to read full article.
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60. StarNCpws1
8:31 PM GMT on March 19, 2017
It's a mistake for science to count on government to fund what is needed. It's a mistake for science to count on government to regulate the nature of the world. It's a mistake for science to compete with, or mingle with, party politics. It's a mistake for science to dream about government being the acceleration pedal for progress. Money, Government and Party Politics is the enemy.

You must realize by now that the USA is a Corporation and the President is the CEO. We're actually dumb enough to elect our own executioners and then work for them. People think the Government works for us, and in the beginning that was the general idea, but it hasn't really been that way for a very long time. That dream is long gone and lost forever now. The Government is just there to manage money and power with law so the Corporation can survive and try to make a profit, which it's still having great difficulty in achieving. If you have to borrow money from Peter to pay Paul every day continuously for years, and use that as a role model to set the standard of a Nations Dream, and you think it's an awesome idea, then you're more warped in the head than you know. I don't know about you, but I hate feeling like a slave limited to pre-approved choices. Freedom my foot! There's no "freedom" here! We're just a number tolerating the conditions.

When the President clamps down on Immigration, do you know what's actually happening?... The CEO is saying, "You're Fired!", because you have violated company policy which he's not going to tolerate.

When the President cuts funds to agencies, do you know what's actually happening?... The CEO is saying, "You're on probation due to failing to produce a reasonable profit for the company. Figure out how to do it with less money and you'll be rewarded later. So get the lead out of your _ss! If you can't do that, then be prepared to close up shop and do something else."

You either have to tolerate the system and work with it, or figure out how to become an independent corporation that knows how to overpower the system. Science needs to figure out how to do the later.

Turn to computers and automation software, the technology which has been taking jobs for years including Government jobs. Use P3's (Public-Private Partnerships) to your advantage for additional funding. Select a small town of cooperating ordinary folks and show them they don't need humans to govern their Town, not even a Mayor. Then spread to another, and another, and another. Take over a county, and another, and another. Take over a State and fire the Governor. Take over a Region and fire the Representatives. Just keep on going until the CEO (President) of the USA Corporation is no longer needed. We need a technocracy (technology and democracy combined). The only working humans we actually need are community-based technicians, engineers, inventors, innovators, researchers and medical personnel. Robotics can pretty much do the rest.

We don't need politicians. We don't need Government. And, eventually we won't need money either, because the technocracy virus we've already created today will slowly take over the world some day Nation-by-Nation. It's really the only way to fix this mess.

Until then, you'll just have to continue tolerating current conditions and pretend you're a zombie slave to avoid any suspicion. ;)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
59. Xandra
6:30 PM GMT on March 19, 2017
From InsideClimate News:

Former EPA Officials: Trump Budget Is Even Worse Than It Seems

Harsh cuts proposed by Trump administration an 'all-out assault on clean air and clean water,' says former EPA chief Gina McCarthy.


Former EPA chief Gina McCarthy harshly criticized Trump's proposed budget cuts to the agency. Credit: Getty Images

As the environmental world copes with the budget outline unveiled by President Trump on Thursday, two former EPA administrators and a longtime environmental justice official have more sobering news: It's actually worse than you think.

The budget blueprint handed down from the White House sent the unmistakable message that it plans to take a hacksaw to climate action. And no agency fell more directly in its path than the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Literally and figuratively this budget is a scorched earth budget," said Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator under President Obama. "It represents really an all-out assault on clean air and clean water and our ability to have safe homes, schools and places to work."

Click here to read more.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
57. Xandra
10:52 AM GMT on March 18, 2017
From EcoWatch:

15 Lawmakers Plotting to Privatize America's Public Lands



The U.S. holds more than 600 million acres of stunning public lands in trust for the American public. These beloved places, ranging from the granite spires of the Black Hills National Forest to the mystical Mojave National Preserve, are home to diverse native wildlife, inspire wonder in people from around the world who visit them and provide clean air, clean water and unsurpassed recreation opportunities to our communities.

Despite the irreplaceable value these places hold, in recent years, a concerted effort has been driven forward by certain senators and U.S. representatives to seize, dismantle, destroy and privatize our public lands. These lawmakers are backed by fossil fuel corporations and other extractive industries that already squeeze massive profits out of America's public lands and only want more.

In order to realize this goal, every year these corporations push millions of dollars toward federal lawmakers to motivate them to introduce and pass legislation that would have the effect of either fully privatizing public lands or opening them up to unfettered extraction and development.

The Center for Biological Diversity issued a report that analyzed 132 bills that were introduced in the past three congressional sessions, between 2011 and 2016, and identified the lawmakers who authored and cosponsored the greatest number of these bills. The list of "Public Lands Enemies" that emerged includes nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives and six U.S. senators from eight western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

[...]

With the West already losing to development one football field's worth of natural areas every two and a half minutes, these shared lands are more important than ever. At the start of the 115th Congress, we want to bring attention to these Public Lands Enemies and their plans to seize and privatize public lands. Everyone who cares about our national forests, wildlife refuges, deserts, national parks, national monuments, wild rivers, wilderness and areas of historic, scientific and cultural significance needs to be watching these elected officials vigilantly and opposing their actions every step of the way.

Click here to read full article.
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56. BaltimoreBrian
5:35 AM GMT on March 18, 2017
How to File a FOIA Request with the National Archives (video). This is also how it's done for other agencies.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
55. CaneFreeCR
2:35 AM GMT on March 18, 2017
Quoting 54. BaltimoreBrian:

This just in (story released at 6:00 p.m. EDT):

Trump advisers want concessions for coal if U.S. stays in climate pact
I say give them the concessions. If coal is going to be more expensive than wind and solar, it won't go anywhere anyway -- they just need to be sure the concessions are quantized on the amount of coal-fired electricity actually generated.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
54. BaltimoreBrian
10:23 PM GMT on March 17, 2017
This just in (story released at 6:00 p.m. EDT):

Trump advisers want concessions for coal if U.S. stays in climate pact
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
52. Misanthroptimist
8:47 PM GMT on March 17, 2017
However, this does not feel like a cycle; it feels like a critical point, where there is a separation between future and past. The election of President Trump is not the cause of this critical point; it is part of the transition. Access to information, opinions, ideologies, conspiracies, sociopathic rants, allies, and hostiles is changing individuals, communities, and institutions. This democratization of information supports the easy use of science to support wants, beliefs, and emotions. It weakens the foundation for evidenced-based, science-based decision making. There is little evidence that we will return to the past.

Well, this is going to be strange. I guess I'll live up to the "optimist" part of my user name with this post. I'm going to give you some valid reason to think that this is indeed just a cycle.

Americans generally are nowhere near the place where the MSM or internet comments would have you believe. Issue polling data will tell you that.

On taxes, most Americans feel that the wealthy pay too little in taxes (including even a small majority of Republicans).

On energy, in more recent polls most Americans oppose Keystone and DAPL.

On the environment, Americans -by nearly 2:1- think Trump should not repeal Obama's CC policies. Large majorities also feel that we aren't doing enough and that impacts are already being felt. (The numbers are also moving the right way.)

On immigration, most Americans oppose Trump's wall and deporting the undocumented.

On healthcare, most Americans feel that it is the Federal Government's responsibility to make sure all citizens get medical treatment.

When you consider those polls with the fact that around 60 million Americans didn't even vote for President, it becomes crystal clear that the Trumpian viewpoint is a small minority. Sure, they have power now but that's mainly thanks to the DNC insisting on running Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders would have demolished Trump in the election of 2016. Polling data indicates that clearly.

Think how different things would be had Sanders won! His policies would have brought tens of millions of Americans back into the process of government -and for all the right reasons. My point, however, isn't "if this happened" but to point out the fact that we are in a very unusual environment politically. Rarely has the government and establishment been so out of touch with the majority of Americans. In such an environment, things can change very, very rapidly.

The only question, of course, is if it can change rapidly enough. But even if it cant, we will at least we have a good chance to be in the ascending part of the cycle when the problems occur.

Hope that helps.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
51. WU_024252
7:19 PM GMT on March 17, 2017
WU_024252 casustelefon
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
50. WU_024252
7:17 PM GMT on March 17, 2017
ok
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
49. WU_024252
7:15 PM GMT on March 17, 2017
2 yes
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
48. WU_024252
7:14 PM GMT on March 17, 2017
1 ok
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
47. Xandra
12:57 PM GMT on March 17, 2017
March for Science:
@ScienceMarchDC

Former Director of Office of Science and Technology Policy, John Holdren, just released this statement in response to new budget proposal.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
46. Xandra
12:56 PM GMT on March 17, 2017
From The Huffington Post:

Trump’s Budget Proposes To Eliminate Arts Agencies, As Many Feared

If Congress approves it, this budget would gut a national system of support for vital arts and culture programs.

[...]

“The elimination of the NEA and the NEH under the proposed federal budget would be a betrayal of the U.S. government’s long history of bipartisan support for innovation in the arts and for groundbreaking research, and could threaten the future of some of the most treasured national institutions,” PEN America’s Nossel stated Thursday in a press release urging continued action.

[...]

Click here to read full article.

----------

Budget for National Endowment Arts/Humanities: $148 million/year

Cost of security for Trump Tower: $183 million/year

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
45. Xandra
12:50 PM GMT on March 17, 2017
Mark Takano:
@RepMarkTakano

Meals on Wheels feeds 500,000 veterans every year.

Where does taking food from hungry veterans fit into the "America First" doctrine?

Donald Trump plans to cut Meals on Wheels to pay for Mexican border wall

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
44. Xandra
11:06 AM GMT on March 17, 2017
From The Independent:

US states consider laws allowing Creationism to be taught by science teachers

The bill would allow science teachers to present ideas “that may cause controversy” on issues such as evolution and global warming



Politicians in Texas are considering a bill that would give legal protection to teachers who present Creationism as a scientific theory.

It is one of eight US states where similar laws have been proposed since the start of the year. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma and South Dakota are the others.

The Texan bill would allow science teachers to present ideas “that may cause controversy” on issues such as evolution and global warming.

The proposals are the latest in a long-running debate over whether religious beliefs should be allowed in the classroom.

A 2014 Gallup poll found that 42 per cent of Americans believe humans were created by God 10,000 years ago. A further 31 per cent believe in evolution, but under God’s guidance.

Only 19 per cent believe God has nothing to do with evolution.

Click here to read more.

----------

Trump budget casualty: After-school programs for 1.6 million mostly poor kids

John King Jr, who was education secretary under President Barack Obama, calls the proposal 'an assault on the American Dream that would disproportionately harm the poor'

Every weekday, 700 children from some of the poorest parts of the Atlanta area stay after school for three hours with Wings for Kids, a program that aims to bolster not only academic performance, but also social skills, relationships with caring adults and a sense of belonging at school.

The children get a safe and enriching place to spend the afternoon and early evening, and their working parents get child care.

But now, Wings for Kids and thousands of programs like it are on the chopping block, threatened by President Trump’s proposal to eliminate $1.2 billion (£970 million) in grants for after-school and summer programs.

“It’s heart-wrenching,” said Bridget Laird, chief executive of the program which serves 1,600 children in Atlanta; Charlotte; Charleston and Lake City in South Carolina.

She said that without federal aid, those programs would be eliminated or gutted. “I can’t imagine if that were turned off — all of those kids running around the streets.”

The program Mr Trump is seeking to axe — known as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers — helps school districts, churches and nonprofit groups serve more than 1.6 million children nationwide.

Click here to read more.
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42. Some1Has2BtheRookie
3:57 AM GMT on March 17, 2017
Quoting 41. BaltimoreBrian:

Dr. Rood, I have found it useful to include words like 'stochastic' in my reports. It makes superior officers think "Gosh, that soldier is smart!" ;)


I have greatly added to my vocabulary since I started reading these blogs.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
41. BaltimoreBrian
2:04 AM GMT on March 17, 2017
Dr. Rood, I have found it useful to include words like 'stochastic' in my reports. It makes superior officers think "Gosh, that soldier is smart!" ;)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
39. Xandra
11:28 PM GMT on March 16, 2017
From ThinkProgress:

Republican senator thinks EPA cuts will keep the agency from ‘brainwashing our kids’

Sen. Inhofe is glad the Environmental Protection Agency will be downsized 30 percent.



Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is probably best known for bringing a snowball to the Senate floor in a sad, failed attempt to demonstrate that climate change is a myth. (It’s not).

Now that President Trump has proposed cutting the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency — which oversees clean air and water programs — by over 30 percent, Inhofe is excited that the agency will stop “brainwashing” the nation’s children with its science.

“We’re going to take [out] all this stuff that comes out of the EPA that’s brainwashing our kids, that is propaganda, things that aren’t true,” Inhofe said during a CNN interview on Thursday.

Video: Inhofe on EPA Brainwashing

The EPA is not in the business of propagating false information. Its rules and regulations are guided by extensive, peer-reviewed scientific findings and come after years — sometimes even decades — of study.

But for as long it has been a matter of partisan politics, Inhofe has been questioning the EPA’s scientific integrity, going his own way on climate and environmental issues. What was once joke, though, is now deadly serious. People who agree with Inhofe’s erroneous analysis of what is happening on this planet are now running the show.

Click here to read more.
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38. Xandra
10:45 PM GMT on March 16, 2017
From Science:

A grim budget day for U.S. science: analysis and reaction to Trump's plan

By Science News Staff

President Donald Trump rolled out his first budget request to Congress today. It is for the 2018 fiscal year that begins on 1 October. It calls for deep cuts to some federal science agencies (read our initial coverage to get some of the numbers), and is likely to draw fierce opposition from the scientific community and many lawmakers in Congress.

ScienceInsider is providing analysis and reaction to the budget all day.

Come back to see our latest items (most recent at the top).

Trump's science vision, in a single graph

The budget released today is often scant on details, including how cuts to various science agencies will be distributed. But science budget expert Matt Hourihan of the R&D Budget and Policy Program at AAAS (publisher of ScienceInsider) made some informed estimates of how the cuts would play out (assuming Congress approves all of the cuts, which is a big "if"). The result is this graph, which shows how select science agencies would fare:




Click here to read more.

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37. BaltimoreBrian
10:43 PM GMT on March 16, 2017
The New York Times is implementing a new plan for climate change coverage.

A Sea Change for Climate Coverage

Chronological index of New York Times stories about climate change, most recent first
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
36. Xandra
1:19 PM GMT on March 16, 2017
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
34. BaltimoreBrian
10:45 PM GMT on March 15, 2017
Quoting 28. RickyRood:

I lectured on fingerprinting today, and never had to use the words nonlinear or stochastic. We ended up talking mostly about how to communicate this stuff.
When I was 15 I read The Stochastic Man (published September 1975) by Robert Silverberg. I never encountered the word 'stochastic' again until after college. I should re-read it. A plot summary:

Lew Nichols is in the business of stochastic prediction. A mixture of sophisticated analysis and inspired guesswork, it is the nearest man can get to predicting the future. And Nichols is very good at it. So good that he is soon indispensable to Paul Quinn, the ambitious and charismatic mayor of New York whose sights are firmly set on the presidency. But there is nothing paranormal about stochastic prediction: Nichols can't actually see the future.

Paul Quinn is Trump-like, although quite a bit more intelligent.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
33. Patrap
10:17 PM GMT on March 15, 2017

WOLFGANG RATTAY/REUTERS
Even as Scott Pruitt denies carbon dioxide’s role in fueling climate change, the NOAA has revealed that atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas have been increasing at an “unprecedented” rate.


As Scott Pruitt Denies Climate Science, Atmospheric CO2 Rises At A Record Rate

“As we twiddle our thumbs, CO2 just keeps going up and up.”

By Dominique Mosbergen


Even as Scott Pruitt denies carbon dioxide’s role in fueling climate change, the NOAA has revealed that atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas have been increasing at an “unprecedented” rate.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt may not believe that carbon dioxide is to blame for global warming, but most scientists say the evidence is clear. And now new data shows the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased at a record pace for the second year in a row.

“As we twiddle our thumbs, CO2 just keeps going up and up,” Ralph Keeling, director of the Scripps Institute for Oceanography’s carbon dioxide monitoring program, told Scientific American Tuesday. Climate scientists have long agreed that the carbon dioxide that humans pump into the atmosphere is the primary driver of climate change, he added.

Atmospheric CO2 levels measured at the Mauna Loa Baseline Atmospheric Observatory in Hawaii, the world’s marquee site for carbon dioxide monitoring, soared by a record-breaking 3 parts per million in both 2015 and 2016, according to data that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released on Friday.

Carbon dioxide concentrations measured at the facility hit 405.1 parts per million last year, the agency said, adding that similar observations had been recorded at dozens of other sites all over the world.

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Carbon dioxide (#CO2) levels rose at record pace for 2nd straight year at Mauna Loa Observatory: http://www.noaa.gov/news/carbon-dioxide-levels-ros e-at-record-pace-for-2nd-straight-year … via @NOAAResearch
12:55 PM - 10 Mar 2017
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Pieter Tans, lead scientist at NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, said that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have increased at least 2 parts per million for the five consecutive years ― an “unprecedented” growth rate.

“The rate of CO2 growth over the last decade is 100 to 200 times faster than what the Earth experienced during the transition from the last ice age,” Tans said in a statement. “This is a real shock to the atmosphere.”

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Carbon dioxide is rising so fast, it's "a real shock to the atmosphere" (and the planet) http://buff.ly/2mq14wn
11:04 PM - 14 Mar 2017
43 43 Retweets 22 22 likes
In 2013, Mauna Loa Observatory scientists announced that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide had reached a daily average above 400 parts per million for the first time in history. CO2 concentrations “haven’t been this high in millions of years,” said scientist Erika Podest at the time. “This milestone is a wake-up call.”

Two years later, the world reached another grim benchmark. NOAA said the monthly global average concentration of CO2 had surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time. A year after that, scientists said global CO2 levels would likely not fall below 400 parts per million — perhaps ever again.

“I think we’re essentially over for good,” Keeling said in May 2016.


SANDY HUFFAKER/GETTY IMAGES
Protesters chant during a rally against climate change in San Diego, California, on Feb. 21, 2017.
In the 10,000 years or so before the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels had averaged about 280 parts per million. Since then, however, the concentration of CO2 has skyrocketed, ballooning from about 300 parts per million in 1960 to the current astronomical level.

And the upward trend is showing no signs of slowing. Scientists say 410 parts per million could be reached later this month, a concentration never before witnessed in human history.

“The momentum we’re seeing right now, going upwards, I think is going to easily carry us through 450 parts per million,” Keeling told the The Huffington Post in an earlier interview. “And then I would say even stabilizing before 500 parts per million is probably not going to be very easy.”

Since carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds, even thousands of years, even a fairly stable rate of carbon emissions ― which is what we’ve seen over the past three years ― would still result in an ever-burgeoning concentration of it in the atmosphere.

In fact, even if emissions somehow plummeted to zero tomorrow, it would still take many years for the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to start tapering.

“At best [in that scenario], one might expect a balance in the near term and so CO2 levels probably wouldn’t change much — but would start to fall off in a decade or so,” Gavin Schmidt, NASA’s chief climate scientist, told Climate Central last year.

And this is the best-case scenario. Though carbon emissions have been relatively flat in recent years, people are still spewing enormous amounts of it into the atmosphere every year. In 2014, an estimated 35.7 billion tons carbon dioxide was released by the burning of fossil fuels alone.


BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES
EPA chief Scott Pruitt said this month that he “would not agree” that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.
Since the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide already released into the atmosphere has caused an average global temperature increase of about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit ― a shift that’s led to record temperatures, melting ice sheets, extreme weather events and other significant impacts.

At current rates of warming, scientists have predicted that global temperatures could rise by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (or 6 degrees Celsius) over the next century. By signing last year’s landmark Paris Agreement, however, more than 190 countries vowed to cut their carbon output so as to keep global warming “to well below” 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius).

But President Donald Trump and his administration have shown reluctance ― and even hostility ― toward the global consensus. Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and “bullshit,” and said he wants to pull the U.S. out of the global climate agreement. He’s also expected to soon sign an executive order, seeking to repeal the historic Clean Power Plan regulation that former President Barack Obama’s administration issued, which restricts greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Last week, Pruitt prompted a furore in the scientific community and among many in the American public when he claimed that carbon dioxide released by humans is not definitively the primary contributor to climate change.

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” the EPA chief told CNBC. “We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”

The phones in Pruitt’s office were reportedly “ringing off the hook” following these comments, as hundreds of people called in to express their outrage.

Pruitt, whose close ties to the fossil fuel industry are well-documented, was also the target of a letter that a group of 30 climate scientists wrote this week that lambasted his comments.

“Just as there is no escaping gravity when one steps off a cliff, there is no escaping the warming that follows when we add extra carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere,” said the letter, signed by researchers from Harvard University, Stanford University, Princeton University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among others.

“[If] we continue to increase the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases, the Earth will continue to heat up, with serious consequences for economies and ecosystems across the globe,” the scientists added.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
32. CaneFreeCR
7:20 PM GMT on March 15, 2017
A really nice story about an important issue that may become more widespread: "A river in New Zealand has become the first in the world to be granted the same legal rights as a person." (first sentence in the report by the BBC, at: Link
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
31. Patrap
3:43 PM GMT on March 15, 2017


GISTEMP Update

February 2017 Was Second Warmest February On Record
Posted Mar. 15, 2017




February 2017 was the second warmest February in 137 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

Last month was 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean February temperature from 1951-1980. The two top February temperature anomalies have occurred during the past two years.

February 2016 was the hottest on record, at 1.3 degrees Celsius warmer than the February mean temperature. February 2017's temperature was 0.20 degrees Celsius cooler than February 2016.

Global map of the GISTEMP land-ocean temperature index anomaly for February 2017, relative to the 1951-1980 average
Global map of the February 2017 LOTI (land-ocean temperature index) anomaly shows that North America and Siberia were again much warmer than the 1951-1980 base period, and that Europe was relatively warm. — View larger image
The monthly analysis by the GISS team is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations.

The modern global temperature record begins around 1880 because previous observations didn't cover enough of the planet. Monthly analyses are sometimes updated when additional data becomes available, and the results are subject to change.

Related Links
For more information on NASA GISS's monthly temperature analysis, visit: data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp.

For more information about NASA GISS, visit: www.giss.nasa.gov.

Media Contacts
Michael Cabbage, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, N.Y., 212-678-5516, mcabbage@nasa.gov

Leslie McCarthy, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, N.Y., 212-678-5507, leslie.m.mccarthy@nasa.gov
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Dr. Ricky Rood's Climate Change Blog

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I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.

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