The Time is Growing Short

GR:  An article from June, 2016 should be on everyone’s mind now. Here’s my discussion followed by a link to the article.

A group of scientists analyzed the sources of CO2 and the dynamic relationship between the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere and global temperature to devise a global carbon budget they could use to assess the effect of timing of changes in CO2 emissions. The analysis enabled them to calculate the changes we must make to preserve a livable climate. You’ll have to read the article to see the individual sources of CO2 that must be adjusted. I wanted to mention the timing for the budget. The analysis shows that if CO2 emissions begin to fall immediately and reach zero in 30 years, we will remain within the global warming limits set by the Paris treaty. After the flat emissions of 2014, 2015, and 2016, the authors believed that the fall in emissions was ready to begin. This is good, because their budget shows that if we wait to 2020 to start tapering off CO2 production, we only get 20 years to reach zero emissions. If we wait to 2025, we get less than 10 years to reach zero. Transforming our energy use that quickly would be impossible.

SO, how are we doing. Six months after the analysis was published, we find that 2017 emissions have gone up, not down. Lot’s of positive changes have begun, but we have to wait to see what happens in 2018. If we begin to taper off CO2 emissions by 2020, we will have 20 years to reach zero emissions. I suggest you take a look at the six milestones the authors believe must be reached by 2020. Then you can monitor the world’s progress toward painful climate change (the Paris treaty) or disastrous climate change (with too many storms, fires, heat waves, and rising seas).

Climate change is just one of the approaching disasters. Human population and its impact is growing, wildlife species are going extinct at incredible rates, freshwater supplies are dropping, and toxic wastes are building up. If we can’t do more than take our CO2 emissions to zero over the next 20-30 years, most of the diversity and beauty of life on Earth will disappear.

Christiana Figueres and colleagues set out a six-point plan for turning the tide of the world’s carbon dioxide by 2020.

Politics, Nature-Conservation, and Pipelines

Abandoning Fossil Fuels for Nature Conservation

GR: Fossil fuels are harmful during their extraction, delivery, refinement, and use. Alternative energy sources are available that are safer and offer tangible benefits for people. More employment opportunity is an example. It is imperative for the survival of nature, wildlife, and humanity that we close the door on the fossil-fuel industry and its disastrous impact. The first step is replacing all the kleptocrats who serve in our governments with progressive politicians able to resist the financial incentives for destroying the Earth. To do this with a balanced integration of human and nature concerns, we must form an alliance of progressive political parties and nature-conservation organizations.

Though the political alliance is the primary strategy, we can have some influence over our kleptocrats by showing them the strength of our numbers. Here’s a petition to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau that focuses on the delivery part of the fossil-fuel cycle.

Politics and Nature-Conservation Resources

“A ‘simple’ oil spill that released an estimated 550 litres of fuel off the northern coast of Vancouver Island has been deemed impossible to clean up. Neither skimmer vessels or sorbent materials can risk touching the environmentally rich affected area that a local First Nation relies on for food and income.

“The fact that there is no current technology that can recover the remaining oil is unacceptable and goes to show that even relatively small spills can be complicated and do great damage to environments and local economies. In this case, while some of the pollutants will evaporate others will remain in the area for much longer, continuing to degrade the the ecosystem and putting the First Nation’s livelihood and health at risk for years to come.

“We have been told that the government and petroleum companies know what they are doing and that they have the knowhow and technology to quickly and responsibly clean up any spills that may occur. Yet, time and time again when an accident happens we learn that they are utterly unprepared to deal with these disasters.” –Andrew (Continue: petition: Stop the Approval of Canadian Pipelines).

Bed of Dan River is Poisoned by Coal Ash for 70 Miles: Turtles Emerging & Dying

GR:  Trump has removed protection from streams. He is probably unaware that the problem below is typical of many situations where mine wastes threaten or actually poison our streams. However, ignorance is not a satisfactory excuse. Can Trump believers continue to support actions that carelessly threaten people and wildlife across the country? Trump promised to remove regulations that restrict business and reduce employment. But did anyone expect he would do so blindly without regard for the long-term consequences? Poisoning people so mining companies can continue profitable operations is not the right way to go.

It’s worth noting that the Environmental Protection Agency forced Duke Energy to assess the coal ash problem. Without the EPA, the company would have simply ignored the problem and moved on. If it’s jobs you want, why not ask the EPA to force Duke Energy and other stream polluters to clean up their wastes? That would create many many jobs. So many.

Ongoing problem: Hibernating turtles are crawling out of the poisoned bed of the Dan River and Dying on the river banks in 2014 (Photo by Greenpiece).

“The bed of the Dan River is covered with toxic coal ash for 70 miles, killing hibernating turtles. The scale of this horrific, preventable catastrophe is now becoming evident.

“As arsenic laced coal ash continues to pour into the Dan River from the Duke Energy waste dump, turtles are crawling out of the poisoned river bed and dying on the banks. Duke Energy has been ordered to stop polluting the Dan River but a second pipe continues to discharge suffocating coal ash into the water following the massive failure of the first pipe under the waste pond. The river bottom is poisoned by toxic ash all the way from the waste dump in Eden to Kerr Lake 70 miles downstream. Federal officials say that the coal ash is suffocating animals that live in the riverbed.

Duke Energy's eroding ash deposits on the Dan River.

Duke Energy’s eroding ash deposits on the Dan River.

“Water treatment authorities say that they have successfully treated and filtered the river water to remove toxins and that Danville’s water is safe to drink. However, arsenic levels in the river continue to exceed federal safe limits. Heavy rains will wash the toxic waste further down the river over the coming weeks spreading the contamination over an increasingly large area.

“Federal officials said Tuesday that toxic coal ash has coated the bottom of a North Carolina river as many as 70 miles downstream of a Duke Energy dump where a massive spill occurred two weeks ago.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service advised that a massive pile of coal ash about 75 feet long and as much as 5 feet deep has been detected on the bottom of the Dan River near the site of the Feb. 2 spill. Deposits varying from 5 inches deep to less than 1 inch coated the river bottom across the state line into Virginia and to Kerr Lake, a major reservoir. …

dan-river“The Dan River system in North Carolina and Virginia is home to two federally listed endangered species, the Roanoke logperch fish and the James spinymussel. The river also has another freshwater mussel, the green floater, which is currently being evaluated for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

“Officials said the coal ash is burying aquatic animals and their food. The ash, generated when coal is burned to generate electricity, could also clog gill tissues in fish and mussels.

“A second pipe under the huge waste pit has large gaps between sections where the toxic ash continues to drain into the Dan River. All of this mess could have been avoided had Duke Energy responded to environmental organizations’ lawsuits by properly disposal of the waste in dry, lined waste disposal facilities with impervious covers. Instead, Duke stonewalled and gave large sums of money to the Republican Party in North Carolina to get preferential treatment.” –FishOutofWater (Continue reading:  Bed of Dan River is Poisoned by Coal Ash for 70 Miles: Turtles Emerging & Dying.)

National Lakes Assessment 2012 Key Findings | National Aquatic Resource Surveys | US EPA

GR:  In a new report, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency says that 40% of American lakes are polluted, and the situation is getting worse.  The EPA blames “nutrient pollution,” but I’ll be more clear:  The principal cause of American freshwater pollution is farming and the excess fertilizer that washes off the fields or soaks into the ground water. The photo below is from one of my ponds that has excess nitrogen that is probably from the nearby farm.

Algae Bloom BackgroundPeople can avoid harmful effects of polluted water by staying out of the water, by not eating fish from the water, and by not drinking unfiltered water. Wildlife does not have these options. Animal species that spend all or part of their time in water are leading the way down to extinction. Yay humans!

“Lakes and reservoirs provide many environmental, economic, and public health benefits. We use lakes for drinking water, energy production, food and recreation. Fish, birds and other wildlife rely on them for habitat and survival. In the National Lakes Assessment (NLA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its partners surveyed a wide array of lakes representative of those found in the U.S., from small ponds and prairie potholes to large lakes and reservoirs. The NLA is part of the National Aquatic Resource Surveys, a series of statistically-based assessments designed to provide the public and decision-makers with nationally consistent and representative information on the condition of the nation’s waters.”  (Continue reading:  National Lakes Assessment 2012 Key Findings | National Aquatic Resource Surveys | US EPA

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?– “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



Pharmaceutical pollution widespread in Southeast U.S. streams | Summit County Citizens Voice

GR:  We have known about this for at least 20 years, but nothing has been done because of the high cost of filtering urban waste water.  Large corporations and stock holders avoid taxes, and what the rest of us pay is insufficient for more than a tot-lot or two and more roads to support further develpment and “progress.”

Bob Berwin:  “Traces of pain-relieving substances, diabetes drugs and allergy medicines are widespread in small streams across the Southeast, especially in urban zones like Raleigh, North Carolina, the U.S. Geological Survey found in a new study.

“The USGS in 2014 sampled 59 small streams in portions of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia for 108 different pharmaceutical compounds and detected one or more pharmaceuticals in all 59 streams. The average number of pharmaceuticals detected in the streams was six.

“The EPA is currently developing rules for regulating pharmaceutical pollution, but government watchdogs say the agency’s proposal is much to weak. Other studies have shown that the toxic cocktail of pharmaceutical remnants is already affecting basic stream health. From there, the chemicals are making their way up the food chain and have even turned up in remote Mexican cenotes.  Source: Pharmaceutical pollution widespread in Southeast U.S. streams | Summit County Citizens Voice

Extinction Resources: Information, Opinion, Ideas, & Questions

Extinction Information Resources


Passenger Pigeon

Stopping human-caused extinction of Earth’s plant and animal species is the greatest challenge of our time. This post provides access to the latest articles on extinction. The first item (Ceballos et al. 2015) is the latest detailed report on what we know and how we acquired the information.

 Ceballos, Gerardo, Paul R. Ehrlich, Anthony D. Barnosky, Andrés García, Robert M. Pringle, and Todd M. Palmer. 19 June 2015. Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction. Science Advances Vol. 1, no. 5 (e1400253, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400253). Corresponding author. E-mail:

More than a thousand recent articles are linked to my blog (

Causes of Extinction

My blog covers the things that people do to cause extinctions and reduce biodiversity. These deeds of ours are woven into individual and our collective habits and beliefs. Stopping them will alter our society and our culture. It will be difficult. Our population must be reduced, our food choices must change, and our resource harvest must decline. Nothing less will succeed. Search the blog using the following terms for recent reports:  Burning, Coal, Construction, Deforestation, Desertification, Energy, Farming, Fishing, Fracking, Grazing, Hunting, Invasive Species, Logging, Mining, Oil, Pesticides, Pet Trade, Pollution, Population, Roads, and Soil.

Climate change will become the major cause of extinction.  Here’s its search link on my blog:  Climate Change.

For more reading, my Internet newsletters include a wider variety of articles than my blog.

EPA Releases 2013 Toxics Release Inventory National Analysis

Comment on the New EPA Toxic Releases Report

GR:  It is worth noting that the EPA report does not include toxic releases from small facilities, home heating, automobiles, and others.  To get insight to the magnitude of human impacts on nature, consider the fact that toxic wastes are not the leading cause of damage to wildlife and habitat. Worldwide, construction and invasive species are more destructive than toxic wastes. The enormous quantity of toxic materials we produce, gives a sense of just how gigantic is the impact of construction and invasive species. It is not surprising that more than half of Earth’s wildlife is gone and the rest is fading fast.

U. S. Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI)

Locations of all facilities that reported to TRI for 2013

Locations of all facilities that reported to TRI for 2013

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its annual report on toxic wastes.  This information comes from thousands of U.S. facilities and includes over 650 chemicals and chemical categories under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA).

“The map shows the locations of all facilities that reported to TRI for 2013. Facilities that report to TRI are typically large and are from industry sectors involved in manufacturing, metal mining, electric power generation, and hazardous waste treatment. Federal facilities are also required to report to TRI by Executive Order 12856.

“Users of TRI data should be aware that TRI captures a significant portion of toxic chemicals in wastes that are managed by industrial facilities, but it does not cover all toxic chemicals or all industry sectors of the U.S. economy. Furthermore, the quantities of chemicals reported to TRI are self-reported by facilities using readily-available data. Each year, EPA conducts an extensive data quality analysis before publishing the National Analysis. During the data quality review, potential errors are identified and investigated to help provide the most accurate and useful information possible. This effort makes it possible for TRI data presented in the National Analysis to be used along with other information as a starting point in understanding how the environment and communities may be affected by toxic chemicals.

“The TRI National Analysis is developed on an annual basis, and the 2013 TRI National Analysis is EPA’s interpretation of TRI data reported for 2013 by July 1, 2014. It provides a snapshot of the data at one point in time. Any reports submitted to EPA after the July 1st, 2014 reporting deadline may not be processed in time to be included in the National Analysis. The most recent data available are accessible from the TRI Data and Tools webpage.

Quick Facts for the U. S. for 2013

Number of TRI Facilities 21,598
Production-Related Waste Managed 25.63 billion lb
Recycled 9.23 billion lb
Energy Recovery 2.91 billion lb
Treated 9.49 billion lb
Disposed of or Otherwise Released 4.00 billion lb
Total Disposal or Other Releases 4.14 billion lb
On-site 3.74 billion lb
   Air 0.77 billion lb
   Water 0.21 billion lb
   Land 2.75 billion lb
Off-site 0.41 billion lb

Note: Numbers do not sum exactly due to rounding.

“Additional information is presented in the following chapters of the TRI National Analysis:

  • Waste Management and Pollution Prevention presents trends in toxic chemicals managed and the types of pollution prevention activities that facilities have implemented.
  • Releases of Chemicals presents trends in releases of toxic chemicals, including a focus on selected chemicals of concern.
  • Industry Sectors highlights toxic chemical waste trends for four industry sectors.
  • Where You Live presents analyses of TRI chemicals by state, city, county, zip code, metropolitan area or micropolitan area, and by Large Aquatic Ecosystems (LAEs) such as the Chesapeake Bay, as well as information about facilities in Indian Country.
  • TRI & Beyond combines TRI data with other EPA data, such as greenhouse gas emissions, to provide a more complete picture of national trends in chemical use, management and releases.

“To conduct your own analysis of TRI data, use EPA’s TRI data access and analysis tools available to the public from the TRI Data and Tools web page.”

GR:  The EPA report is a primary resource for studying U. S. toxic materials releases.  I haven’t tried all the Tools, but they look useful.  I tried the “where you live” tool for the state of Arizona.  The display was slow, but produced interesting results (summary table below).

Quick Facts for Arizona 2013

Number of TRI Facilities: 257
Facilities Reporting Newly Implemented Source Reduction: 45
Total On-site and Off-site Disposal or Other Releases: 70,121,662 lbs
Total On-site: 69,030,728 lbs
• Air: 2,400,897 lbs
• Water: 832 lbs
• Land: 66,628,999 lbs
Total Off-Site: 1,090,934 lbs