15,000 Scientists From 184 Countries Warn Humanity of Environmental Catastrophe

GR: This is the 25-year update of the warning scientists gave in 1992.

“More than 15,000 scientists have signed a chilling article titled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice,” urging global leaders to save the planet from environmental catastrophe.

“The plea, published Monday in the international journal BioScience, is likely the largest-ever formal support by scientists for a journal article with 15,372 total signatories, Motherboard noted. The scientists represent 184 countries and have a range of scientific backgrounds. Prominent signatories include Jane Goodall, E.O. Wilson and James Hansen.

“The “Second Notice”—an update to the original version published 25 years ago by the Union of Concerned Scientists and signed by 1,700 scientists then—underscores the lack of progress from the original document.

“The first notice started with this statement: “Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.” It described trends such as the growing hole in the ozone layer, pollution and depletion of freshwater sources, overfishingdeforestation, plummeting wildlife populations, as well as unsustainable rises in greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures and human population levels.

“Unfortunately, the authors of the current article said that humanity has failed to progress on most of the measures.

“They ominously warned, “time is running out.”

“Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change” from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities, the paper stated.

“William J. Ripple, lead author of the current article and a distinguished professor of ecology at Oregon State University, told the Associated Press he was stunned by the level of support for the manuscript.

“I initially sent it out to 40 of my colleagues,” he explained. “After 24 hours there were 600 scientists who signed it. Within two days, there were 1,200. There were so many people signing that our website crashed a couple of times.”

“According to the AP, the researchers document a number of alarming trends from 1992 to 2016, such as a 28.9 percent reduction of vertebrate wildlife, a 62.1 percent increase in CO2 emissions, a 167.6 percent rise in global average annual temperature change and a 35.5 percent increase in the global population (about 2 billion people).” –Lorraine Chow (More: https://www.ecowatch.com/scientists-environmental-warning-2509347840.html.)

Worrisome first quarter of 2017 climate trends – Yale Climate Connections

GR: Here’s a handy summary of global temperature, sea ice, and coral reef changes so far in 2017.

“With the first quarter of 2017 now past, the year is shaping up to be one of climate extremes: high temperatures, low sea ice, and coral bleaching.

“The year is shaping up to be one of #climate extremes: high temps, low sea ice, and coral bleaching.”

“Global surface temperatures continue to increase in-line with climate model predictions, and the world has now experienced an increased global temperature of about 0.8 degrees C (1.5 degrees F) since 1970. Temperatures for the first three months of the year were actually warmer than the 2016 average, and there is a reasonable chance that 2017 for a fourth consecutive year will be the warmest on record.

“Global sea ice extent is near historic lows in the Arctic and Antarctic, and Arctic sea ice volume has also been decreasing as it ages and thins, with less new ice to replace it. The Great Barrier Reef experienced an unprecedented second consecutive year of coral bleaching, the only major coral bleaching on record to have occurred other than in an El Niño year.

Temperature

“Global surface temperatures were surprisingly warm in the first quarter of 2017. Despite the end of the large 2015/2016 El Niño, temperatures remained high with January, February, and March each being the second warmest on record, after 2016.” –Zeke Hausfather (Continue reading: Worrisome first quarter of 2017 climate trends – Yale Climate Connections).

It’s the end of the world and we know it: Scientists in many disciplines see apocalypse, soon

GR:  Here’s an article that I hope at least my friends and family read. If it doesn’t worry and motivate you, then you are a victim of “willful blindness” a cognitive condition that can be either conscious or subconscious. You can recover from the subconscious condition, but it’s usually after you’ve fallen in a hole and wonder “why didn’t I see this coming.” However, you can make a conscious effort to reassess your beliefs and act to avoid the hole. And I assume that this is what’s going to happen as demonstrations like the massive climate march that just filled Pennsylvania Avenue continue to grow.

Credit: Getty/Everlite/Leon Neal/Photo Montage by Salon

“While apocalyptic beliefs about the end of the world have, historically, been the subject of religious speculation, they are increasingly common among some of the leading scientists today. This is a worrisome fact, given that science is based not on faith and private revelation, but on observation and empirical evidence.

“Perhaps the most prominent figure with an anxious outlook on humanity’s future is Stephen Hawking. Last year, he wrote the following in a Guardian article:

Now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.

“There is not a single point here that is inaccurate or hyperbolic. For example, consider that the hottest 17 years on record have all occurred since 2000, with a single exception (namely, 1998 [hottest on record to that point]), and with 2016 being the hottest ever. Although 2017 probably won’t break last year’s record, the UK’s Met Office projects that it “will still rank among the hottest years on record.” Studies also emphasize that there is a rapidly closing window for meaningful action on climate change. As the authors of one peer-reviewed paper put it [PDF paper published in Nature, Climate Change]:

The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far. Policy decisions made during this window are likely to result in changes to Earth’s climate system measured in millennia rather than human lifespans, with associated socioeconomic and ecological impacts that will exacerbate the risks and damages to society and ecosystems that are projected for the twenty-first century and propagate into the future for many thousands of years.

“Furthermore, studies suggest that civilization will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than in all of human history, which stretches back some 200,000 years into the Pleistocene epoch. This is partly due to the ongoing problem of overpopulation, where Pew projects approximately 9.3 billion people living on spaceship Earth by 2050. According to the 2016 Living Planet Report, humanity needs 1.6 Earths to sustain our current rate of (over)consumption — in other words, unless something significant changes with respect to anthropogenic resource depletion, nature will force life as we know it to end.

“Along these lines, scientists largely agree that human activity has pushed the biosphere into the sixth mass extinction event in the entire 4.5 billion year history of Earth. This appears to be the case even on the most optimistic assumptions about current rates of species extinctions, which may be occurring 10,000 times faster than the normal “background rate” of extinction. Other studies have found that, for example, the global population of wild vertebrates — that is, mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians — has declined by a staggering 58 percent between 1970 and 2012. The biosphere is wilting in real time, and our own foolish actions are to blame.” –Phil Torres (Continue: It’s the end of the world and we know it: Scientists in many disciplines see apocalypse, soon – Salon.com.)

Second year of widespread bleaching underway on the Great Barrier Reef

GR: Another excellent report from NOAA’s climate group. The news is bad. Here’s one effort to do more than just report on our destruction of Earth ecosystems. We need to do more. We need a political confederation of progressive and biological-conservation groups that understands how important it is to recognize the equality of all species. But how do you create an alliance when environmental ignorance is so prevalent and when even political progressives see nothing beyond the health, comfort, and equality of members of our species? Sad.

“On the Great Barrier Reef and throughout the rest of the world, corals live in a symbiotic relationship with algae. Corals give algae shelter, and the photosynthetic algae give corals food (not to mention their bright colors). But when ocean waters get too hot for too long a time, corals expel their algae, turning bony white in the process—coral bleaching. Corals can survive without algae for only so long.

Thermal stress around the Great Barrier reef from January-March 2017. NOAA Climate.gov image by Dan Pisut, based on NOAA Coral Reef Watch maps.

“In May 2016, Climate.gov wrote about a record-breaking coral-bleaching event on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and discussed the low likelihood of significant long-term recovery. This was published in the cover paper in Nature in March 2017, just as Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority announced continued bad news: widespread coral bleaching was occurring for the second consecutive year.

“The animation above shows accumulated weeks of heat stress, known as Degree Heating Weeks, from early January through late March 2017 off the northeastern coast of Australia. Values larger than 4 (gold to orange) indicate that widespread coral bleaching is likely. Values above 8 (salmon-orange to dark purple) indicate that significant bleaching and death is possible. Mapped reef locations are shown with black outlines.

“At the beginning of 2017, no heat stress is apparent, but this situation soon changes. Degree heating weeks begin to accumulate soon after the start of the year. By the end of January, heat stress associated with likely bleaching is apparent. The situation only worsens in February, and by the end of that month, heat stress high enough to cause significant bleaching and coral death occurs over an expansive area. By the end of March, a substantial area off the coast of northeast Australia shows heat stress values of 8 or higher.

“On March 24, 2017, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority stated that in January, it started fielding coral-bleaching reports from park rangers and reef visitors for locations as far south as the waters north of Fraser island, the Marine Park Authority and James Cook University followed up the reports with spot checks, flyovers, and comprehensive aerial surveys.

“Because so much coral in the north died in 2016, it was difficult to see the 2017 bleaching there from the air, according to NOAA coral expert Mark Eakin. But according to the Marine Park Authority website, a total of 54 in-water spot surveys of six reefs between Cairns and Townsville in late February revealed signs of thermal stress at all six reefs. As of late March, coral bleaching appeared most severe in the central region of the Great Barrier Reef. Toward the south, bleaching appeared more moderate.” –Michon Scott (Continue: Second year of widespread bleaching underway on the Great Barrier Reef | NOAA Climate.gov.)

A Global Plan to Save Corals from Extinction

GR:  We certainly need to do something soon. This is the kind of large-scale conservation effort that we should have applied to all our ecosystems. But now, we must acknowledge that it is a treatment of symptoms not causes. This is a poor strategy. It’s not certain that we can save any reefs. Even with just the greenhouse gases we’ve already placed in the atmosphere, projections for increased ocean warming don’t look good for corals. Why not spend the money to buy back a few politicians from the fossil-fuel industry. If we could, we might be able to redirect fossil-fuel industry subsidies to research into atmospheric CO2 removal. This is where we need to spend our money now.

Coral bleaching on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Feb. 10, 2016 (Photo by Oregon State University)

“SYDNEY, Australia, March 12, 2017 (ENS) – Ninety percent of the world’s coral reefs are expected to disappear by 2050 due to climate change, pollution and poor fishing practices. Now, a unique philanthropic coalition has launched 50 Reefs, a plan to save the most critical reefs so once the climate stabilizes they can reseed the entire coral ecosystem.

Corals on the Mesoamerican Reef have experience widespread bleaching events in 1995, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Corozal, Belize, Dec. 2016 (Photo by Viv Lynch)

“The initiative, launched at The Economist World Ocean Summit in February, brings together ocean, climate and marine scientists as well as conservationists from around the world to develop a list of the 50 most critical coral reefs in need of protection.

“The idea is to identify 50 high priority coral reefs that have the best chance of surviving climate change and can then help in the recovery of coral reef ecosystems once global temperatures have stabilized.

“As the project unfolds through 2017, a panel of world leading scientists will oversee a process to prioritize reefs worldwide deploying a transparent ‘decision algorithm’ developed at The Centre for Excellence in Environmental Decisions at The University of Queensland.

“The datasets used, such as reef biodiversity, climate vulnerability, current health and reef connectivity, will be agreed upon by the independent panel of scientific experts drawn from some of the world’s leading organizations.

“To be announced in late 2017, the list is expected to represent a diverse portfolio of reefs to maximize returns for biodiversity, ecosystems and people.

“Funding of this global effort is led by Bloomberg Philanthropies with The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, who all aim to prevent the worst economic, social, and environmental impacts of the coral crisis.

“Bloomberg News founder and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. “When people think of climate change, they often think of extreme heat, severe storms, and raging wildfires,” he said. “But some of the most disastrous effects of climate change are out of sight – on the ocean floor.”

“In fact, without coral reefs, we could lose up to a quarter of the world’s marine biodiversity and hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people would lose their primary source of food and livelihoods. We must not allow this to happen,” said Bloomberg.” –News Editor ENS (Continue reading:  50 Reefs: A Global Plan to Save Corals from Extinction | ENS.)

Images of new bleaching on Great Barrier Reef heighten fears of coral death

GR:  An update on the continuing bleaching disaster. It appears to me that the fossil-fuel industry has purchased the Australian government and directing the government to permit for-profit developments harmful to the reef.

“The embattled Great Barrier Reef could face yet more severe coral bleaching in the coming month, with areas badly hit by last year’s event at risk of death.

Newly bleached corals discovered near Palm Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Photograph: Australian Marine Conservation Society

“Images taken by local divers last week and shared exclusively with the Guardian by the Australian Marine Conservation Society show newly bleached corals discovered near Palm Island.

“Most of the Great Barrier Reef has been placed on red alert for coral bleaching for the coming month by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Its satellite thermal maps have projected unusually warm waters off eastern Australia after an extreme heatwave just over a week ago saw land temperatures reach above 47C in parts of the country.

Newly bleached coral. Most of the reef has been placed on red alert for coral bleaching for the coming month by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Photograph: Australian Marine Conservation Society

“According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, sea surface temperatures from Cape Tribulation to Townsville have been up to 2C higher than normal for the time of year for more than a month.” –Elle Hunt (Continue reading:  Images of new bleaching on Great Barrier Reef heighten fears of coral death | Environment | The Guardian.)

Yearly Coral Bleaching Will Not End

GR:  Again, let me say: climate change is happening now, and it will get worse.

“Despite La Nina, Ocean surfaces have not cooled enough to end the worst global coral bleaching event on record. What this means is that many reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, are again under a rising risk of bleaching and mortality for the coming months. This is unheard of. Never before has a mass coral bleaching event lasted for so long or extended through the period of natural variability related ocean surface cooling called La Nina. Perhaps more ominously, the global coral bleaching and die off that began in 2014 may now be a practically permanent ocean feature of the presently destabilized world climate system.

“Cool La Nina is Over. According to NOAA, the periodic cooling of ocean surfaces in the Pacific called La Nina is now over. And since La Nina brings with it a variable related low point of broader Earth surface temperatures, after a few months lag, we can expect the globe to start to warm up again.

The above map shows sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific Ocean on February 9 of 2017. Presently SSTs over the entire Pacific range from about -1.5 C below average to +5 C above average. And as you can see, the Ocean is considerably warmer than normal, despite La Nina. Over the next 1-2 years, this is likely the coolest the Pacific will get. In just one decade’s time, under human-forced warming, it will take a very strong La Nina and a strongly negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation to produce similar sea surface temperatures. Image source: Earth Nullschool.

“Problem is, the Earth is still ridiculously warm, despite La Nina. Temperatures, driven inexorably higher by fossil fuel burning, have probably bottomed out at about 1 degrees Celsius hotter than 1880s averages during December, January and February of 2016-2017.

“What this means is that the likely range for annual global temperatures over the next 5 years will be about 1 to 1.3 C above 1880s averages. These readings are so high (the warmest in 115,000 years) and have risen so much, in such a geologically short span of time, that many of the world’s more sensitive species are now being pushed out of their habitats and are undergoing considerable heat-related mortality events.

According to NOAA:

Multiple coral reef regions are already experiencing Alert Level 1 bleaching stress (associated with significant coral bleaching). Alert Level 2 bleaching stress (associated with widespread coral bleaching and significant mortality) is expected in the Northern Cook Islands, Southern Cook Islands, the Samoas, Wallis & Futuna, Northern Tonga, Southern Tonga, the Society Archipelago, and the Austral Islands in the next 1-4 weeks. Alert Level 1 bleaching conditions are also expected in the Tuamotu Archipelago in the next 1-4 weeks and in Tuvalu in the next 5-8 weeks.

–Robertscribbler (More: The Permanent Global Coral Bleaching Event | robertscribbler.)

The extinction crisis is far worse than you think

GR:  This CNN Photo/Video/Data essay has high-quality images and interviews.  Recommended.

“Frogs, coral, elephants — all are on the brink. Three quarters of species could disappear. Why is this happening? CNN explores an unprecedented global crisis.” –CNN (Continue:  The extinction crisis is far worse than you think)

Why the Global Coral Bleaching Event That Began in 2014 May Just Keep Going and Going | robertscribbler

GR:  Natural disasters are growing, but media attention focuses on politics and material matters, giving emphasis to wealth and society and overlooking environmental problems. Thus, America’s shock troops, its police and military mercenaries, are emboldened to make unrestrained attacks on citizens striving to limit fossil fuel development. This story by Robert Scribbler explains why the disastrous addition of CO2 and heat to the oceans is destroying and will continue to destroy some of the most beautiful and productive places in the sea.

“From October of 2014 through June of 2016, the world was in the grips of a powerful El Nino. And throughout this event, the oceans spewed back some of the massive volume of heat they’ve been accumulating in their depths due to global warming. As a result, atmospheric and ocean surface temperatures hit new record highs. And during 2016, global surface temperatures will likely average 1.2 C hotter than 1880s levels. This amount of warming is as considerable as it is harmful.

Current-coral-bleaching-status

(“A global coral bleaching event that began in 2014 continues. It is the longest coral bleaching event on record. But unless oceans somehow cool off, it won’t really end. With only a weak La Nina emerging following a strong El Nino and a record spike in global temperatures, there is some risk that this ongoing event will ebb and flare on a nearly indefinite basis. Continued fossil fuel burning, meanwhile, will continue to add heat to the global climate system — presenting worsening medium and long term bleaching pressure for corals. Image source: Coral Reef Watch.”)

The Worst Global Coral Bleaching Event Ever Recorded…

“This new record spike in global surface temperatures set off the worst coral bleaching event ever recorded. Around the world, reef systems came under severe stress as sea surface and near surface temperatures exceeded 28-30 degrees Celsius.

“Among the hardest hit regions were the reefs of Kiribati. There, sea surface temperatures hit up to 31.4 C on an extended basis. Such hot waters are now expected to have wiped out all but 1 to 5 percent of Kiribati’s living corals. So, for all practical purposes, the reefs of that island republic have been wiped out.” –Robert Scribbler (continue reading:  Why the Global Coral Bleaching Event That Began in 2014 May Just Keep Going and Going)

Having lost the ability to reproduce, ‘Coral zombies’ may spell doom for coral reefs around world

GR.– Human damage to coral comes from a growing a list of lethal chemicals.  We know that the oceans are absorbing more CO2 and that this increases acidity and weakens coral.  We know that runoff from cities, farms, and mines carries toxic chemicals that kill corals.  Now we can add sunblock to the list of lethal human impacts.  Changing the activities causing these impacts is a daunting prospect.  It requires that we stop burning fossil fuel, make huge investments in water filtration, and gain the cooperation of divers and fishermen.  Can we do all that in time to save Earth’s coral?

Phys.org.– “Scientists, like UCF Biologist John Fauth, have known for a while that coral reefs around the world are dying, and in a worst-case scenario they were counting on large, healthy-looking corals to repopulate. But a new study presented at the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium in Honolulu today shows that these seemingly healthy colonies are ‘Coral Zombies’ with no reproductive ability, which makes them useless in a recovery effort. Credit: UCF: Nick Russett

“Basically the places with the heaviest tourism had the most severe damage,” Fauth said. He dove and took samples from all of the Puerto Rican sites in the study, along with marine biologists Michael Nemeth and Katie Flynn.

“This study adds to growing evidence that coral reefs frequented by divers are in peril. Last year a study found that oxybenzone, a common UV-filtering compound in sunscreen, is in high concentrations in the waters around the more popular coral reefs in Hawaii and the Caribbean. The chemical not only kills coral, it causes DNA damage in adult corral and deforms the larval stage, making it unlikely they can develop properly. The highest concentrations of oxybenzone were found in reefs most popular with tourists. Fauth was a co-investigator of that 2015 study, which was published in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

“Oxybenzone also causes coral bleaching, which is a prime cause of coral mortality worldwide. Corals bleach when they lose or expel the algae that normally live inside them, thus losing a valuable source of nutrition.”  Continue reading:  ‘Coral zombies’ may spell doom for coral reefs around world

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