Friday 21st of June 2019

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by Gus Leonisky on Wed, 2019-06-19 10:07

Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted

Ice blocks frozen solid for thousands of years destabilized

‘The climate is now warmer than at any time in last 5,000 years’

Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.

A team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said they were astounded by how quickly a succession of unusually hot summers had destabilised the upper layers of giant subterranean ice blocks that had been frozen solid for millennia.

“What we saw was amazing,” Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the university, told Reuters. “It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years.“

With governments meeting in Bonn this week to try to ratchet up ambitions in United Nations climate negotiations, the team’s findings, published on 10 June in Geophysical Research Letters, offered a further sign of a growing climate emergency.

The paper was based on data Romanovsky and his colleagues had been analysing since their last expedition to the area in 2016. The team used a modified propeller plane to visit exceptionally remote sites, including an abandoned cold war-era radar base more than 300km from the nearest human settlement.

Diving through a lucky break in the clouds, Romanovsky and his colleagues said they were confronted with a landscape that was unrecognisable from the pristine Arctic terrain they had encountered during initial visits a decade or so earlier.

The vista had dissolved into an undulating sea of hummocks – waist-high depressions and ponds known as thermokarst. Vegetation, once sparse, had begun to flourish in the shelter provided from the constant wind.

Torn between professional excitement and foreboding, Romanovsky said the scene had reminded him of the aftermath of a bombardment.

“It’s a canary in the coalmine,” said Louise Farquharson, a postdoctoral researcher and co-author of the study. “It’s very likely that this phenomenon is affecting a much more extensive region and that’s what we’re going to look at next.“

Scientists are concerned about the stability of permafrost because of the risk that rapid thawing could release vast quantities of heat-trapping gases, unleashing a feedback loop that would in turn fuel even faster temperature rises.

 

Read more:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/18/arctic-permafrost-canada-science-climate-crisis

 

 

Read from top.

 

Read all other articles on this site about global warming, climate change and global hotting...

by Gus Leonisky on Wed, 2019-06-19 09:15

 

In 2012, Sue Natali arrived in Duvanny Yar, Siberia, for the first time. Then a postdoctoral research fellow studying the effects of thawing permafrost due to climate change, she had seen photos of this site many times. Rapid thawing at Duvanny Yar had caused a massive ground collapse – a “mega slump” – like a giant sinkhole in the middle of the Siberian tundra. But nothing had prepared her for seeing it in person.

“It was incredible, really incredible”, she recalls while speaking to me from The Woods Hole Research Center, Massachusetts, where she is an associate scientist. “I still get chills when I think about it… I just couldn’t believe the magnitude: collapsing cliffs the size of multi-storey buildings … and as you walk along you see what look like logs poking out the permafrost. But they aren’t logs, they are the bones of mammoths and other Pleistocene animals.”

What Natali describes is the visible, dramatic effects of a rapidly warming Arctic. The permafrost – up until now, permanently frozen land and soil – is thawing out, and revealing its hidden secrets. Alongside Pleistocene fossils are massive carbon and methane emissions, toxic mercury, and ancient diseases.

The organic-rich permafrost holds an estimated 1,500 billion tonnes of carbon. “That’s about twice as much carbon in the atmosphere, and three times as much carbon than that stored in all the world’s forests”, says Natali. She explains that between 30% and 70% of the permafrost may melt before 2100, depending on how effectively we respond to climate change. “The 70% is business as usual, if we continue to burn fossil fuels at our current rate, and 30% is if we vastly reduce our fossil fuel emissions… Of the 30-70% that thaws, the carbon locked up in organic matter will begin to be broken down by microbes, they use it as fuel or energy, and they release it as CO2 or methane.”

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Around 10% of the carbon that does defrost will probably be released as CO2, amounting to 130-150 billion tonnes. That is equivalent to the current rate of total US emissions, every year until 2100. Melting permafrost effectively introduces a new country at number two on the highest emitters list, and one that isn’t accounted for in current IPCC models. “People talk about a carbon bomb,” says Natali. “In geological timescales this is not a slow release. It is a pool of carbon that is locked away and is not accounted for in the carbon budget to keep rises below two degrees (Celsius).”

The Northern Hemisphere winter of 2018/2019 was dominated by headlines of the “polar vortex”, as temperatures plummeted unusually far south into North America. In South Bend, Indiana, it reached -29C in January 2019, almost twice as low as the city’s previous record set in 1936. What such stories masked, however, was that the opposite was happening in the far North, beyond the Arctic circle. January 2019 also saw Arctic sea ice average just 13.56 million square kilometres (5.24 million square miles), some 860,000 square kilometres (332,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average, and only slightly above the record low reached in January 2018.

In November, when temperatures should have been -25C, a temperature of 1.2C above freezing was recorded at the North Pole. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world (in part due to the loss of solar reflectivity).

“We are seeing a big increase in the thaw of permafrost”, confirms Emily Osborne, program manager for the Arctic Research Program, NOAA, and editor of the Arctic Report Card, an annual peer-reviewed environmental study of the Arctic. As a direct result of rising air temperatures, she says, the permafrost is thawing and “the landscape is physically crumbling as a result… things are changing so fast, and in ways that researchers hadn’t even anticipated.”

The headline of the 2017 Arctic Report Card pulled no punches: “Arctic shows no sign of returning to a reliably frozen region”. One paper co-authored by Hanne Christiansen, professor and vice dean of education at University Centre Svalbard, Norway, studied permafrost temperatures at a depth of 20 metres (that's 65ft, far enough down not to be affected by short-term seasonal changes) and found temperatures had risen by up to 0.7C since 2000. Christiansen, who is also president of the International Permafrost Association, tells me, “temperatures are increasing inside the permafrost at relatively high speed… then, of course, what was permanently frozen before can become released.” In 2016, the autumn temperatures in Svalbard remained above zero throughout November, “the first time this has happened in the records that we have, going back to 1898”, says Christiansen. “Then large amounts of rain came – the precipitation here is typically snow… we had mudslides crossing roads for 100s of metres… we had to evacuate some parts of the population.”

The rapid change in North American permafrost is equally alarming. “In some places in the Alaskan Arctic, you fly over a swiss cheese of land and lakes formed by ground collapse,” says Natali, whose fieldwork has moved from Siberia to Alaska. “Water that was close to the surface now becomes a pond.” Many of these ponds are bubbling with methane, as microbes suddenly find themselves with a feast of ancient organic matter to munch on, releasing methane as a by-product. “We often walk across the lakes because it’s so shallow and it’s like you’re in a hot tub in some places, there is so much bubbling,” says Natali.

But methane and CO2 are not the only things being released from the once frozen ground. In the summer of 2016, a group of nomadic reindeer herders began falling sick from a mysterious illness. Rumours began circling of the “Siberian plague”, last seen in the region in 1941. When a young boy and 2,500 reindeer died, the disease was identified: anthrax. Its origin was a defrosting reindeer carcass, a victim of an anthrax outbreak 75 years previously. The 2018 Arctic report card speculates that, “diseases like the Spanish flu, smallpox or the plague that have been wiped out might be frozen in the permafrost.” A French study in 2014 took a 30,000 year-old virus frozen within permafrost, and warmed it back up in the lab. It promptly came back to life, 300 centuries later. (To read more, see BBC Earth’s piece on the diseases hidden in ice.)

Adding to this apocalyptic vision, in 2016 the Doomsday Vault – a sub-permafrost facility in Arctic Norway, which safeguards millions of crop seeds for perpetuity – was breached with meltwater. And listed amongst the membership of The Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost, is Swedish Nuclear Waste Management who presumably also rely on a permanently frozen permafrost (when BBC Future approached them for comment on this point, they did not respond).

Long-preserved human archaeology may also be emerging, but just as quickly lost. A frozen Palaeo-Eskimo site in Greenland, preserved for some 4,000 years, is at risk of being washed away. This is just one of an estimated 180,000 archaeological sites preserved in the permafrost, often with soft tissues and clothing that uniquely remain intact but would rot quickly if exposed. Adam Markham, of the Union of Concerned Scientists has said, “with rapid, human-caused climate change, many sites or the artefacts they contain, will be lost before they have been discovered.”

More modern (and unwanted) human detritus will, however, not rot away: marine microplastics. Due to circular global marine currents, much plastic waste ends up in the Arcticwhere it becomes frozen in sea ice or permafrost. A recent study of marine micro-particles demonstrated that concentrations were higher in the Arctic Basin than all other ocean basins in the world. Microplastic concentrations in the Greenland Sea doubled between 2004 and 2015. “Scientists are finding that those microplastics are accumulating across the entire ocean and being dumped into the Arctic”, explains Osborne. “This is something we didn’t [previously] realise was a problem. What scientists are trying to find out now is the composition of these microplastics, what sort of fish are feeding on these… and whether we are essentially eating microplastics through eating these fish.”

 

Read more:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190612-the-poisons-released-by-melting-arctic-ice

 

 

Time to stop our emissions of CO2. Full stop. As mentioned on this site by Gus, we should have stopped these emissions in 1996, to arrest the rise of temperature at about 2 degrees above average and manage "global warming". Our next concern now is to limit the damage at less than 6 degrees above average as it could go up to 9 then 12 degrees above average, sooner than the next Trump tweet...

 

 

 

 

 

by Gus Leonisky on Wed, 2019-06-19 07:05

by Martin Rowson

April, it seems, really is the cruellest month for the New York Times. On 25 April, its international edition (formerly the International Herald Tribune) ran a cartoon by the Portuguese cartoonist António Moreira Antunes, previously published in the Lisbon paper Expresso and depicting Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a guide dog leading a blind Donald Trump. In the way of cartoons, the Netanyahu dog had a blue Star of David (presumably meant to signify the Israeli flag) dangling from his collar, while Trump wore a yarmulke.

There was an instant outcry condemning the cartoon’s antisemitic imagery, including in articles and editorials in the New York Times itself. As a result, the paper has decided it will no longer publish any political cartoons in the international edition (the NYT domestic paper dropped cartoons several years ago) and is terminating its contracts with in-house cartoonists Heng and the multi-award winning Patrick Chappatte. In a statement released on Tuesday, the paper announced that it would “continue investing in forms of opinion journalism, including visual journalism, that express nuance, complexity and strong voice from a diversity of viewpoints”.

This is a gross overcorrection, even though the outcry had some justification. While you can just about get away with claiming the blue Star of David signifies the state of Israelrather than Jewish people in general, the signification of Trump’s yarmulke is impossible to argue away: the implication is clearly that the US president has been “Judaised” by the dirty Israeli dog, both of which are common antisemitic tropes of the type notoriously published in cartoon form in the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer.

As the Labour party knows to its cost, antisemitism is the most insidious of racisms and cartoonists in particular need to be increasingly careful when engaged in otherwise wholly justified images belabouring the actions of the Israeli government. This isn’t just to avoid online lynch mobs; we also need to nuance our work to make it absolutely clear that we’re condemning the Israeli government’s actions because they are rightwing nationalists (currently bizarrely cosying up to Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, a blatant antisemite), and not because they’re Jewish. 

But let’s get back to cartoons. The New York Times “disciplined” the unnamed editor responsible and announced that it would no longer be publishing any syndicated cartoons provided by CartoonArts International. But that wasn’t enough, and now the NYT cartoons are no more. Just like any other commercial enterprise, the New York Times can do what it likes, and I look forward to seeing some scathingly satirical tie-dyes in the pages of its international edition. But this cuts deeper than an over-reaction to an ill-judged cartoon. Cartoons have been the rude, taunting part of political commentary in countries around the world for centuries, and enhance newspapers globally and across the political spectrum, in countries from the most tolerant liberal democracies to the most vicious totalitarian tyrannies. As we all know, they consequently have the power to shock and offend. That, largely, is what they’re there for, as a kind of dark, sympathetic magic masquerading as a joke.

That’s also why the Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart is in jail, why the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was facing 43 years imprisonment for sedition until a change of government last year; why five cartoonists were murdered in the offices of Charlie Hebdo in January 2015; why dozens of British cartoonists – including William Heath Robinson – were on the Gestapo death list. And why, for that matter, when in the late 1950s the London Evening Standard ran a cartoon by its Jewish cartoonist Vicky attacking the death penalty, this so shocked and outraged a GP in Harrow that he wrote to the paper regretting that Vicky and his family had escaped the Nazis.

As Kart said at his trial, cartoonists are like canaries in the coal mine – when they come for us, you know the politics is getting toxic. But we’re not just subject to the shallow vanity of tyrants or the fury of mobs. The greatest threat to cartoonists has always been the very newspapers we parasitise on. When the accountants moved in on the US newspaper industry in the 2000s, the first employees to go were the cartoonists, just like most newspapers that get closed down aren’t shut by governments but by their proprietors. Nor is it just money. I’ve been “let go” more times than I can count (the worst case was when the Times sacked me to make more room for Julie Burchill’s column, though in a previous incarnation on the Guardian’s personal finance pages in the 1980s I was redesigned off the page and replaced with what was charmingly called “a creative use of white space”).

We are, in short, expendable. Nonetheless, the New York Times’ decision is particularly irksome in its intoxicating combination of cowardice, pomposity, over-reaction and hypocrisy. As I observed at the beginning of this article, April is the cruellest month for the New York Times, as its much vaunted (and self-promoting) claim to be America’s “newspaper of record” was dealt an almost fatal blow when it was revealed in April 2003 that its star reporter Jayson Blair was a serial plagiarist who had fabricatedmany of his stories. You’ll note, however, that the paper did not stop using reporters altogether in order to rebuild its reputation. Nor did it issue a statement announcing that it would “continue investing in forms of news journalism, including textual journalism, that express nuance, complexity and strong voice from a diversity of viewpoints” and then fill its pages with copy from, say, accountants and astrologers. Although after the dumbness of this decision, just give it time.

 Martin Rowson is a cartoonist and author

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/12/new-york-times-cartoonists-ban-antisemitism

 

A few "Anti-Semitic" (they are not A-S — they are just the reality of what Israel is hypocritically doing) cartoons published on this site...

Some by Gus, some by other penpushers:

 

bibi

netan

 

yahu

 

help

 

asem

 

club

 

vision

 

pweace

 

More to come...

 

See also: 

poetic satire on the wrong side of democracy...

by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2019-06-18 22:30

frankly

More to come...

by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2019-06-18 16:42

On this site I have often been a vocal critic of the Q&A show, ABC, for good reasons. But I am criticised for doing so because "I have not watched the show in ages"... So let me not apologise. I do not watch the show when they invite antagonists with views that are not scientifically defendable. Invite Alan Jones once more and I will piss on the glass wall at the ABC in Ultimo, disguised as a dog. I may not reach as, due to my advanced age, I have a weak bladder and might piss on my shoes (or paws) instead. But I don't care. The gesture would have been notice though no-one would dare take Mr Leonisky seriously — or arrest him — as this would open a can of worms, thus connecting to this illustrious discreet small site. No media would mention us, because any mention would draw a massive crowd to read all what we've done for the last 14 years, and show the media for the hypocrites they are... 

 

So This is to congratulate Q&A for its show on sciences with five learned scientists on the panel and not a flat-earth theorist on the horizon... Apparently, Q&A has done similar shows before but when I look at the previous line-ups, I always see smart intelligent people of sciences being sent to the slaughter at the abattoirs of boofheads of the shock-jockstrap variety or to the prisons of forked-tongue politicians.

 

The only counterpoint of the sciences Q&A was when the scientists were asked about god... You know me, the rabid atheist. Though their answers were a bit too innofensive, I boiled. As Einstein said, himself an agnostic, in a letter that God was "a product of human weakness” and the Bible merely a collection of “primitive legends”. Goodo Albert...

 

 

see:

https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2018/10/04/albert-einstein-letter-calling-god-a-product-of-human-weakness-is-up-for-sale/

 

See also:

 

http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/26402

 

http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/30311

 

http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/35070

 

Read from top.

 

See also: the letter from god einstein...

by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2019-06-18 15:18

President Donald Trump cannot want war with Iran.

Such a war, no matter how long, would be fought in and around the Persian Gulf, through which a third of the world’s seaborne oil travels. It could trigger a worldwide recession and imperil Trump’s reelection.

It would widen the “forever war,” which Trump said he would end, to a nation of 80 million people, three times as large as Iraq. It would become the defining issue of his presidency, as the Iraq war became the defining issue of George W. Bush’s presidency.

And if war comes now, it would forever be known as “Trump’s War.”

For it was Trump who pulled us out of the Iran nuclear deal, though, according to U.N. inspectors and the other signatories—Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China—Tehran was complying with its terms.

Trump’s repudiation of the treaty was followed by his reimposition of sanctions and a policy of maximum pressure. This was followed by the designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a “terrorist” organization.

Then came the threats of secondary sanctions on nations, some of them friends and allies, that continued to buy oil from Iran.

U.S. policy has been to squeeze Iran’s economy until the regime buckles to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 12 demands, including an end to Tehran’s support of its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

Sunday, Pompeo said Iran was behind the attacks on the tankers in the Gulf of Oman and that Tehran instigated an attack that injured four American soldiers in Kabul even though the Taliban claimed responsibility.

The war hawks are back.

“This unprovoked attack on commercial shipping warrants retaliatory military strikes,” said Senator Tom Cotton on Sunday.

But just as Trump does not want war with Iran, Iran does not want war with us. Tehran has denied any role in the tanker attacks, helped put out the fire on one tanker, and accused its enemies of a “false flag” to instigate a war.

If the Revolutionary Guard, which answers to the ayatollah, did attach explosives to the hulls of the tankers, it was most likely to send a direct message: if our exports are halted by U.S. sanctions, the oil exports of the Saudis and Gulf Arabs can be made to experience similar problems.

Yet if the president and the ayatollah do not want war, who does?

Not the Germans or Japanese, both of whom are asking for more proof that Iran instigated the tanker attacks. Japan’s prime minster was meeting with the ayatollah when the attacks occurred, and one of the tankers was a Japanese vessel.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal Monday were Ray Takeyh and Reuel Marc Gerecht. Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a neocon nest funded by Paul Singer and Sheldon Adelson.

In a piece titled “America Can Face Down a Fragile Iran,” the pair make the case that Trump should squeeze the Iranian regime relentlessly and not fear a military clash. A war with Iran would be a cakewalk, they say:

Iran is in no shape for a prolonged confrontation with the U.S. The regime is in a politically precarious position. The sullen Iranian middle class has given up on the possibility of reform or prosperity. The lower classes, once tethered to the regime by the expansive welfare state, have also grown disloyal. The intelligentsia no longer believes that faith and freedom can be harmonized. And the youth have become the regime’s most unrelenting critics.

Iran’s fragile theocracy can’t absorb a massive external shock. That’s why Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has, for the most part, adhered to the JCPOA (the nuclear pact) and why he is likely angling for negotiation over confrontation with the Great Satan.

This depiction of Iran’s political crisis and economic decline invites a question: if the Tehran regime is so fragile and the Iranian people are so alienated, why not avoid a war and wait for the regime’s collapse?

Trump seems to have a few options:

  • Negotiate with the Tehran regime for some tolerable detente.
  • Refuse to negotiate and await the regime’s collapse, in which case the president must be prepared for Iranian actions that raise the cost of choking that nation to death.
  • Strike militarily, as Cotton urges, and accept the war that follows, if Iran chooses to fight rather than be humiliated and capitulate to Pompeo’s demands.

One recalls: Saddam Hussein accepted war with the United States in 1991 rather than yield to Bush I’s demand that he get his army out of Kuwait.

Who wants a U.S. war with Iran?

Primarily the same people who goaded us into wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen, and who oppose every effort of Trump’s to extricate us from those wars.

Should they succeed in Iran, it is hard to see how we will ever be able to extricate our country from this blood-soaked region that holds no vital strategic interest save oil. And America, thanks to fracking, is no longer dependent on the Middle East even for that.

 


Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

Read more:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/buchanan/donald-trump-would-own-a-war-with-iran/

 

Though there is not much noise from the Iranians allies, would Iran have to fight a lonely war against the USA for far more dubious ridiculous motives than the "Saddam has weapons of mass destruction" mantra?

I guess not and suddenly, not only the Gulf — with Israeli, Saudi, US and possibly European aggression against Iran, Iran would not be left alone to fight back. Restraint might be the tone of the riposte but eventually, the planet would soon become inflamed with WW3. Does Trump want this on his watch or is he preparing the ground for the next president — including himself — for this crap? 

 

We have to give the US hawks a cold shower with a firehose...