CO2 Emissions Must be Cut Now

Featured

It’s (Past) Time to Cut CO2 Emissions

Greetings:  I’m updating this post from three years ago as a reminder that we have a deadly national emergency slipping up on us that will kill far more people than COVID-19. If you click the CO2 link in the sidebar you can see that we haven’t yet begun responding by cutting emissions. 

Yesterday at my house we received 2.25″ of rain (with hail) in less than an hour. In arid regions, that’s a lot. The gutters clogged with hail, spilled over, and contributed to ponding in the yard that came within 1/4 inch of flowing over the patio door sills. I have a flood wall planned, but eventual flooding will probably flow over any wall I can build.

We can expect increasing storm size and intensity because of the amount of CO2 we have already released into the atmosphere. If we could limit emissions and subsequent temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the storms would continue to grow, but away from the coasts, little flood walls and rooftop solar panels would probably let most of us survive. However, limiting the storms by limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius is impossible now. We might still limit the increase to 2 degrees, but we have to act fast.

The graph below shows the best scientific estimates of the cumulative effect of delays. If emissions begin to fall now, we can stay below 2 degrees of rise if we reach zero by 2040. If emissions do not begin falling until 2025, we must reach zero by 2033 to stay below 2 degrees. Eight years? Having had a strong taste of the coming catastrophe by then, we might try. But the effort itself would be so costly, we probably wouldn’t make it. Dropping to zero in 21 years if we begin now will be incredibly difficult. It will require a global switch to wartime economies dedicated to building renewable energy and making emission cuts. Emissions are still rising as we approach 2020, and reaching zero in 21 years seems unlikely.

All we can count on for sure is that nature will force human emissions to begin falling in about 20 years due to massive loss of life as heatwaves and wildfires increase, and as farms, water delivery, power delivery, and transportation fail. That’s when positive feedbacks, including the ice-free arctic, melting permafrost, soil erosion, and other sources of CO2 will begin growing without our contribution. At that point, our species could begin spiraling down toward extinction.

Christiana Figueres and colleagues published the graph below last year. I blogged about it last December. You can find a link to the original article there.

To keep all this positive, glass half full and so on, I will close by saying that the world’s scientists could be wrong about climate and we will all find a ten pound gold nugget in the alley and win the lottery next week.

Avoiding Oligarchy to Preserve Nature

Cherokee Nation Seal

Cherokee Nation Seal

The Cherokee Tribe is a sovereign nation with rights guaranteed by a treaty ratified by the U. S. Congress and signed by the U. S. President. The Tribe’s relationship with the United  States is similar to that of the 50 states. The following article by Chuck Hoskin, Jr. Cherokee Principal Chief, concerns the tribe’s efforts to control the corrupting influence of dark money on elected members of the tribal government. I’ve posted it here for the edification of American voters and the U.S. Congress where money is being used by special interests to legally bribe congressional members. Allowed to continue, this could replace our representative government with an oligarchic government.
In my limited experience, it appears that oligarchs have no respect for nature and see natural systems only as resources to harvest. It seems that a representative government is more likely to take action to save the Earth from our current rampant growth and quest for wealth and power. Here’s what Chief Hoskin says:

“Dark money corrupts. Democracy dies in the dark. But, the sovereign government of the Cherokee Nation Reservation is fighting back with recent election law reforms that demand transparency.
“Let us start with the facts: Our longstanding election laws require transparency and accountability with respect to campaign donations. Donation limits, mandatory disclosure and prohibition against “independent expenditures” are all hedges against corruption embedded in Cherokee law. I believe our campaign finance laws were among the strongest in the country even before the latest reforms.
“But, the 2019 election exposed some weaknesses in our laws. It is true that a candidate in 2019 was disqualified for illegally coordinating with an illegal entity operated by non-Indians out of Oklahoma City. Public hearings, including by our Supreme Court, disclosed this attempt to cheat and to steal an election by a group called “Cherokees for Change.” The law held one lawbreaker accountable. However, the law left many involved in the illegal scheme unscathed.
“The law did not hold accountable the people who funneled an unknown amount of money into the election. We may never know the full extent of the corruption, who made donations and what they hoped to gain from their scheme. Perhaps these same outside interests are regrouping to again try to buy our elections. Perhaps others are circling the Cherokee Nation with the same plans.
“The Council of the Cherokee Nation recently took action after literally years of careful review of our election code. I proposed, and the council enacted, the country’s strongest ban on dark money. The law passed 15-0, with two councilors absent. Deputy Speaker Victoria Vazquez said she sponsored the legislation so that “people, not outside corporate interests, control our democracy.” She is spot on.
“I proudly signed the reforms into law earlier this month alongside Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. The law reinforces the ban on the kind of anonymous and unlimited piles of cash that illegally poured into our 2019 elections from Oklahoma City. But, the law now punishes those who donate to these illegal entities with stiff criminal and civil penalties.
“As Council Speaker Mike Shambaugh said, “The message we are sending today is that this is not 2019; you won’t get away with corruption.”
“The ban on dark money is a true exercise of our tribal sovereignty and a win for government transparency. While other nations may be content with unlimited, unregulated, anonymous campaign contributions, the Cherokee Nation is not. Sixteen of 17 council members expressed support for this basic idea: The Cherokee people deserve to know who is contributing to candidates for public office.
“As I reflect on our Nation’s bold stand against corruption, my thoughts turn to the current election campaigns in Oklahoma. Recently, I pushed back on politicians in Oklahoma who are claiming Cherokee sovereignty is “the greatest threat” and that our reservations should be “disestablished.” A number of powerful politicians seem to fear Cherokee Nation making its own laws and protecting the public interest.
“From the perspective of anti-Indian politicians, maybe our sovereignty is a threat. It is certainly a threat to the corrupt influence of those who would try to secretly buy our elections.
chief-hoskin“I firmly believe that some of the same anti-Indian interests who want to destroy our reservations are busy hatching a “plan B” to try to control tribal governments. The Cherokee people and their representatives will not stand for it. No wonder some of these anti-sovereignty politicians are scared.
“We are sovereign. The Cherokee people demand transparency. The days of corrupt dark money in Cherokee politics are over” Chuck Hoskin, Jr., Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Animals to be Formally Recognized as Sentient Beings in UK

So little, but it’s something. Posted here just to keep the record.

Set of government measures will include halting most live animal exports and a ban on hunting trophy imports

Animal welfare protesters are seen at a rally in front of the Al Kuwait live export ship as sheep are loaded in Fremantle harbour, 16 June, 2020
Animal welfare protesters at a rally in front of the Al Kuwait live export ship as sheep are loaded in Fremantle harbour, 16 June 2020. Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP

Animals are to be formally recognised as sentient beings in UK law for the first time, in a victory for animal welfare campaigners, as the government set out a suite of animal welfare measures including halting most live animal exports and banning the import of hunting trophies”–Fiona Harvey Environment correspondentWed 12 May 2021 01.00 EDT

Global Warming, Environmental Variability, and Infectious Disease

Introduction

Scientists predict global warming will increase the spread of infectious diseases at the same time it amplifies the intensity of storms, floods, droughts, fires, and other problems. I haven’t followed the disease issue closely, but I think the current global failure with COVID-19 gives us a preview of what this will be like. From increased public health expenses to extensive travel restrictions, civilization will face increasing challenges and will eventually crumble first in poorer nations, regions, and neighborhoods, and finally in wealthy areas.
This story from Nature describes COVID-19’s growing death toll and its deadly contribution to other diseases.

COVID-19 and Infectious Disease in India.
Health workers administer polio vaccines to children in Islamabad in January as an armed police officer stands nearby for protection. Vaccinators have previously been attacked in Pakistan, where rumours persist about immunizations being harmful. (Sohail Shahzad/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Canada Thistle

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">A WordPress glitch deleted the discussion I included with this story. Something to do with the new editor. <a href="https://onpasture.com/2021/04/05/have-you-discovered-the-benefits-of-canada-thistle/">Here's a link to the original article. </a>A WordPress glitch deleted the discussion I included with this story. Something to do with the new editor. Here’s a link to the original article.

Canada Thistle is Nutritious and Delicious and Can Improve Average Daily Gains

“Since I started training livestock to eat it, I’ve known that Canada thistle is alfalfa-like in nutrition. – it’s like candy to a ruminant”–Kathy Voth.

Weed Appreciation Day

Today is #WeedAppreciationDay. Before humans, weeds were almost entirely beneficial for Earth’s ecosystems. Problems began when we transported weeds across natural barriers created by deserts, forests, and oceans. In their new homes without their natural consumers, some of the weeds become malignant. They replace local species and destroy local ecosystems. Diversity and stability often decline. The damage is extensive and it is increasing. Here’s a link to more information on weeds: https://garryrogers.com/invasive-plant-articles-by-garry…/

Wildlife Decline Continues

Wildlife Decline

As the human population grows and consumes more of the planet’s resources, the number of wild animals and plants declines. Encounters with insects outdoors and in our homes are falling rapidly. Birds numbers are falling, and wild mammals are disappearing.

The Living Planet Index tracked 20,811 populations of 4,392 vertebrate species and it recorded a 68 percent decline between 1970 and 2016. Over-consumption by humans is primarily to blame, particularly deforestation and agricultural expansion–Niall McCarthy, Data Journalist.

I’ve reported on this issue in many posts over the past few years. In fact, most of my posts are related. Like the rest of the world’s citizens concerned with nature, I’ve been an ineffectual nag. I have come to believe that even if we had 100 Greta Thunbergs demonstrating for nature, we would fail to evade calamity. But it is fair to imagine all is not lost. Caught in the whirlpool of human nature, we can still believe remnants of nature will survive to reseed Earth’s living complexity and beauty once again.

Population

Earth’s Human Population Is Not Sustainable

Human population growth threatens all life on Earth. Notice how the linked Guardian article focuses on Humans. We all know, and the article’s author would probably agree, Human destruction of Earth ecosystems harms other species as well as Humans. This might end when Human civilization ends, but population’s daughter product, climate change, might continue destroying life long after Humans are gone.

A report by the University of Washington predicts that Japan’s population will halve by by 2100. Photograph: Eugene Hoshiko/AP

The Guardian article gives a brief update on population projections.

“In 1798, Thomas Malthus wrung his hands as he contemplated the growing mass of humanity, warning: “The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.” –Guardian Editorial.

Read more.

We are All Scientists

You are a Scientist

I heard someone ask “why do scientists lie so much.” Thinking about how I would answer, and with my grandchildren in mind, I composed the following statement:

Sharing the Earth

Half for Nature

Dr. Helen Kopnina (photo: Springer Nature)

As we age and grow more familiar with our surroundings, the limits of the Earth begin to appear through the clouds of our experience and reactions. When I think of the Voyager Golden Records travelling into the Cosmos for the past 43 years, I wonder if some alien species will one day trace humanity’s greetings back to a barren planet no longer wrapped in life and promise. In the linked article, Helen Kopnina and her coauthors gracefully lay out the mutually beneficial path we must follow to save our planet’s life and ourselves.

https://go.nature.com/2NxX2Cs

Header photo:  College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley.

 

Birds of Coldwater Farm

Introduction
My Birds of Coldwater Farm is an illustrated guide to 146 bird species seen at Coldwater Farm from 1997 to 2022. I included photographs, conservation status, and comments on species abundance trends at the Farm. Keywords:  Birds, Coldwater Farm, Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona, Conservation, Natural History.

Bird Identification

The photographs and comments in this book will give you a name and some information for the birds, but you will also want a field guide. You can find one in most bookstores and you can download an app for your phone. Field guides help you distinguish similar bird species and they provide much more information than this book. Away from my desk, I use the Audubon Society Bird Guide app. It has pictures, recordings, range maps, and descriptions of each species’ preferred habitat and its mating, nesting, and feeding behavior. It also describes nests, eggs, and conservation status. At my desk, I use the fabulous Cornel Lab Birds of North America Online. Both the Audubon app and the Cornel Lab website have simple interactive tools that will let you become an instant success at bird identification (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/).

Bird Conservation

With concern for the health and survival of the birds, I dug into the published conservation literature on each species. I found that two species at the Farm, the Southwest Willow Flycatcher, and the Yellow-billed Cuckoo are on the U. S. endangered species list and numerous other species that visit the Farm are in decline. Philipe Guerrero and other ornithologists helped identify many of the birds.

The book is available in all the usual places and here’s the Amazon link.

Rogers, Garry. 2021. Birds of Coldwater Farm, Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona, Coldwater Press, Prescott, AZ. 177 p.

Most of the birds are shown in the Photo Gallery