Environment

This may be a welcome change from the climate change discussion which got a bit heated over the weekend. The Talanoa climate change story telling dialogs. They have been going on all day, in seven simultaneous sessions, today, 11th December 2018. The stories have been archived and you can rewatch them via Skype

Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.

If you are reading media claims about President Trump and the Waters of the United States, they are using terms like "unprecedented" and "sabotage" regarding rollback of some 2015 Obama restrictions that environmentalists had lobbied for and won. 

Yet these new regulations never took effect, so how can it be sabotaging us?

Were we really in danger and only a set of regulations never enacted would save us? Are close-ups of frogs in pea-soup-looking water (obviously to evoke images of chemical sludge for readers who may have never seen a frog in a pond) real or fake news?

Non-profit, non-ideological science media can help un-muddy the waters.

This is running as a scary story in the news today. I’m asked if it means we are all going to die. No, it does not. That was a 10 °C rise and we are headed towards 3.6 °C at maximum with the Paris pledges already. With the Paris agreement if they continue to ramp up the pledges they should get within 2 °C, many countries have already got to that point in their pledges and a fair number to within 1.5 °C. Others, especially China and Russia, face huge challenges but are rising to them especially China. We aren’t currently headed for anything like 10 °C.

This is an article from Head to Head, a series in which academics from different disciplines chew over current debates. Let us know what else you’d like covered – all questions are welcome..

Sharon George: Plastics are ingrained in our everyday lives. Since 1950, it’s estimated that we have produced billions of tons of plastic, and most of this is not recycled.

Plastics have spread around the world through oceans, rivers and the air to every part of the planet. In rivers and oceans, plastic moves vast distances and is now found right through the water column of the oceans, from the surface to the deepest trenches.

Two weeks after people were sickened by E. coli on romaine lettuce, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control told the entire country to throw theirs out, which alarmed people for little reason and cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars. People shouldn't have been alarmed because most people would have thrown it out anyway. Up to 94 percent of people throw out lots.

And that's not as alarming as media reports are making it sound. We are constantly told to eat less "processed" food and more of the fresh kind, which aside from statistical correlation has never been shown to be valid health advice, and fruits and vegetables that are not "processed" by being canned or frozen are going to rot. 

Many journalists have penned exaggerated, click baity but inaccurate articles about the IPCC report on climate change. One of the worst is the one published in the NY Times. It doesn’t have that many out and out mistakes, but it is a highly respected source, and so its mistakes, particularly the confusion of carbon costs and carbon pricing, and not being clear about what happens in 2040, in 2075 or 2100, confused many people.

Dams keep the boom and bust of flooding from being too severe, they prevent water shortages, they make human existence better. But they clearly change nature.

Why is a human building a dam unnatural but a beaver building a dam natural? Only an environmentalist can figure that out, but what was a great idea 10 years ago - hydroelectric power and storing water - is now the enemy of the paid activism community, and politically sympathetic researchers have increasingly begun to curry media attention by writing papers to prove them right, as has happened again in Nature Sustainability, a journal which, like something might be called Nature UFOs, was created to make money legitimizing the beliefs of the activism community inside academia.
A new study in Nature Communications suggests that climate change could pose a threat to male fertility by increasing the number and severity of heat waves which damage sperm.

The authors contend that climate change is already having an impact on species populations, including climate-related extinctions in recent years. The authors suggest that sperm function is an especially sensitive trait. Sperm function is essential for reproduction and population viability, and so they sound a warning that biodiversity is already collapsing.
Before the arrival of European immigrants to the western United States, up to 12 percent of it would burn each year. Somehow, even though science is well aware of that fact, political media today claim that wildfires are unprecedented and we are doomed. 

A new study notes again that the amount of wildfire occurring in the western U.S. remains far below the acreage burning when native Americans were not managing the ecology. The context is not to debunk modern beliefs about how superior native Americans were, but to talk about water.

The basic message of the IPCC report is that we need to act now before 2040, to avoid more expensive mitigation measures in the last 60 years of the century. The worst effects are for 2100. And that if we aim for 1.5°C, it is far better than 2 °C.