Firestorm: 1,500 Structures Destroyed as Massive Wildfires Blaze Through Northern California

GR: Now begins the age of extremes that everyone can see. No longer just statistical trends in numbers and sizes of floods and fires, global warming-spurred events are moving on stage and the lights are coming up.

Here are Robert Scribbler’s thoughts on the current California fires.

“Heat and drought and fire. A common litany these days for California — a state that has, year after year, been wracked by a series of unprecedented climate extremes.

“After a brief respite this winter, northern parts of a state reeling from woes related to human-caused climate change again settled into drought this summer. Having received near record amounts of rain during winter — enough to wreck the spillway at the Lake Oroville Dam — vegetation sprang anew. This rain-spurred growth then subsequently dried — developing widespread fuels for fires.” –Robert Scribbler (Firestorm: 1,500 Structures Destroyed as Massive Wildfires Blaze Through Northern California | robertscribbler).

That rotten stench in the air? It’s the smell of deadly gas and secrecy

GR:  Having had local experience with government cover-up of hazardous conditions, I am not surprised that Canadian officials would cooperate with the fossil-fuel industry to hide the truth from endangered citizens. We sometimes ask industries to regulate themselves, but as you will read, this doesn’t always work very well.

Dairy Carbon Footprint (sodeliciousdairyfree.com)

The lack of concern for human injury is just one facet of government-industry collusion. Conditions that impact vegetation, wildlife, and whole ecosystems receive even less concern. Reporters do not mention the broader issue because the damage is not directly experienced by people and because most of us do not understand what is happening. Nevertheless, ecologists have studied the impacts and costs to nature and human society. They’ve published the results. We all need to read a little more and work a little harder to understand the consequences of our behavior whether it is criminal acts by government and industry personnel or the byproducts of acts as simple as drinking a glass of milk.

“As the number of shale oil wells has soared in Saskatchewan, the risk of hydrogen sulphide leaks has multiplied. A year-long investigation reveals what the government and industry knew — and kept from the public.” — Robert Cribb et al. (Continue: That rotten stench in the air? It’s the smell of deadly gas and secrecy | Toronto Star).

Human race is doomed if we do not colonise the Moon and Mars, says Stephen Hawking 

Saving Life on Earth

GR: Hawking is right about the threat from an extinction-level meteorite strike, and it is certainly true that we are ruining this planet through overpopulation and global warming, but if we follow his advice, several thousand people will survive while billions will be left on Earth to die abruptly or slowly as events unfold. Hawking says we need to set up colonies with working ecosystems on the moon and mars within 30 and 50 years. Since our Earth-bound efforts to manipulate existing ecosystems have usually failed despite having a mature atmosphere that admits the correct light wavelengths for plants and animals to survive, the probability for failure to establish a working ecosystem on the moon or mars is very high. Do it in 30 or 50 years? Not even if all the Trumps on Earth were packed off to Alpha Centauri tomorrow.

We should follow Hawking’s advice and begin trying to establish extraterrestrial colonies, however the chance for our species’ survival would be much higher if we concentrated our efforts in preserving and protecting Earth’s existing ecosystems. And if that protection has to include an asteroid busting ray gun, well, we have only 30 to 50 years to get one built. Despite serious warnings by Hawking and others, we are making only feeble efforts to preserve and protect what we already have here on Earth.

Our situation reminds me of the behavior of Douglas Adams’ Golgafrinchan Arc B colonists when they reached Earth. Pure lunacy, but as embarrassingly accurate as the social events in Lord of the Flies. Must our species always be defined by its lowest common denominator? We need to raise our heads, look around, and comprehend the need to finance an emergency mission to save Earth and we need to do it now. All our humanitarian, entrepreneurial, and military goals are simply irrelevant if we do not.

Avoiding Human Extinction

Sarah Knapton, Science Editor for The Telegraph:  “The human race must start leaving Earth within 30 years to avoid being wiped out by over-population and climate change, Professor Stephen Hawking has warned.”

“Making an impassioned speech at the Starmus science festival in Trondheim, Norway, the astrophysicist said it was crucial to establish colonies on Mars and the Moon, and take a Noah’s Ark of plants, animals, fungi and insects, to start creating a new world.

“Prof Hawking said it was only a matter of time before the Earth as we know it is destroyed by an asteroid strike, soaring temperatures or over-population.

“He said that becoming a ‘cosmic sloth’ was not an option because ‘the threats are too big and too numerous.’

“I am convinced that humans need to leave earth. The Earth is becoming too small for us, our physical resources are being drained at an alarming rate. We have given our planet the disastrous gift of climate change, rising temperatures, the reducing of polar ice caps , deforestation and decimation of animal species.When we have reached similar crisis in or history there has usually been somewhere else to colonise. Columbus did it in 1492 when he discovered the new world. But now there is no new world. No Eutopia around the corner. We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds.”

Prof Hawking said it was important to begin colonising Mars and the Moon

 

“Prof Hawking told the audience that the Earth would eventually be hit by a devastating asteroid strike.

“This is not science fiction it is guaranteed by the laws of physics and probability, he said. To stay risks being annihilated. Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity. It  may also determine whether we have any future at all. Wherever we go we will need to build a civilisation, we will need to take the practical means of establishing a whole new ecosystem the will survive in an environment that know very little about and we will need to consider transporting several thousands of people, animals, plants, fungi, bacteria and insects.”

Prof Hawking said the Moon and Mars were the best sites to begin the first colonies, stating that a lunar base could be established within 30 years and a Martian outpost within 50. But he also suggested leaving the Solar System and venturing to our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, where scientists believe there exists a habitable planet known as Proxima B.” –Sarah Knapton (Human race is doomed if we do not colonise the Moon and Mars, says Stephen Hawking)

A Warming Planet Jolts the Iconic Creatures of the Galápagos

GR: This beautifully illustrated story gives details on a number of species being harmed by climate change. All animals must struggle to survive. Now, with human-caused global warming, their struggle is becoming more difficult. Deaths are increasing, and extinction has appeared on the horizon. Yay people!

A fascinating video and more photos accompany the original post. Click the “continue” link following the story.

National Geographic: “Jon Witman checks his air gauge, adjusts his flippers, and falls backward into the Pacific. Nearby, the ocean throws itself against Isla Beagle, one of a hundred-plus rocks, pinnacles, and islands that form the Galápagos archipelago, a province of Ecuador that straddles the Equator. Rebuffed, the sea retreats in a white flag of foam.

“On a shelf above the spray, blue-footed boobies dance with the awkwardness of teens at a junior high prom. Below them on the rocks, an argument breaks out between two Galápagos sea lions. The scene could have looked and sounded the same when Charles Darwin sailed here almost two centuries ago. These creatures, fine-tuned to life on harsh isles, seemingly can weather anything, even time itself.

“Suddenly Witman breaks the surface. “It’s beginning,” he tells me with a grimace.

“He grabs his video camera from the dive boat and disappears underwater again. I plunge in after him. At 15 feet below the surface, Witman points me to a lobe coral, Porites lobata. It should resemble a mustard green pagoda, but instead it glows white against the seafloor’s bubblegum pinks and AstroTurf greens. This coral is bleaching, a reaction to excessively warm water. Soon it will be dead.

“Two marine iguanas seem unfazed by the presence of one of their mummified brethren, dead likely from starvation, on Isla Fernandina. Endemic to the Galápagos, these raccoon-size lizards forage for algae along the shore; larger males dive into the ocean. The algae they eat die in warm water, rendering Darwin’s “imps of darkness” susceptible to climate change.”

“A scalloped hammerhead cruises past a school of steel pompano, endemic to islands in the eastern tropical Pacific. Fluctuations in water temperature increase the growth of barnacles on rocks and can also cause infections, visible as white patches on this shark.”

“After hunting, a Nazca booby returns to its nest near a thicket of prickly pear cacti on Isla Wolf. Scientists have been studying the birds elsewhere on the islands to gauge how long-term changes in their fish diet may hurt reproduction and depress populations.

“At spots such as Isla Beagle, Witman and his crew are on the lookout for change. They’ve had no trouble finding it. They’re taking the temperature of this seafloor community—literally and figuratively. During 2016’s El Niño, the most intense climatic event here in two decades, the temperatures at his dive spots reached a peak of 88°F. (Overall, water temperatures in the Galápagos region were more than 4°F above their long-term average.) Witman, who has explored nearshore ecosystems from Easter Island to the Gulf of Maine for 40 years, fears that this bleached coral could augur an explosion of bleaching—as well as other dramatic changes throughout the environment here—in the years to come.” –Christopher Solomon (Continue: A Warming Planet Jolts the Iconic Creatures of the Galápagos.)