Sunday, July 30, 2017

Cloud Ring and Trumpet Sounds, heard in Israel

Cultivating the art of practical magic on a Rockport farm

[Press Herald] The first indication that agriculture is practiced differently on a biodynamic herbal farm is the ritual before the rose petal harvest. Farmer Deb Soule, the founder of Avena Botanicals, sits quietly on the grass next to the hedgerow of rosa rugosa. It’s a cool morning and the petals are just opening. A trio of harvesters wait nearby, holding flying saucer-sized baskets. Soule is meditating and giving a silent thank-you to the rosa rugosa, which stretch about 40 feet away from her and are at least 5 feet wide.
When she feels that the time is right, she begins the harvest and the others follow, tenderly taking only the open roses, whole, with their yellow middles, and placing them in the baskets where they sit, like bright pink fried eggs over perfectly easy. The season for this crop runs about three weeks and will result in about 40 pounds of rose petals in the brightest of pinks. They’ll be distilled or dried and turned into various herbal concoctions: rose petal elixir, rosewater spritzer, a tea called “peaceful heart.”
The sounds of pollinators – from bees to hummingbirds – fill the air. A bird’s nest, likely a robin’s, is found in the thickest part of the hedgerow and the harvesters give it a wide berth. A chipmunk waltzes by within a foot of Soule and it seems quite possible that it will perch on her knee, Walt Disney-style.
Avena Botanicals, one of Maine’s oldest herb farms and its first certified biodynamic farm of any kind, is a serious business, producing over 1,000 pounds of herbs every growing season and more than 300 different species on three lush acres. But it’s also the agricultural equivalent of a soul spa, capable of making someone feel, setting foot on the property, as if they have just had a massage or fallen under a spell. Soule, a Maine native who has been exploring herbal remedies since she was a teenager in the 1970s, is the presiding queen of the magic. Other herb farmers describe her as an icon and an inspiration.
“She kind of crosses barriers from earthliness almost into fairyland,” said Lauren Pignatello of Swallowtail Farm, another herb farmer and herbalist who runs Milk and Honey Cafe in Portland. “She has that otherworldly energy.”
Soule rolls a few bright marbles in her hand and mentions that she keeps a basket of them nearby so she can hide them in secret places around the garden. “I like to make a simple offering.” That would be to the plants, and to, she says, the fairies who make the gardens grow. She means the team of gardeners (there are three on staff) but for a moment, maybe because of the hypnotic powers of the sweet haze of rosa rugosa, you might think she was talking about less corporeal fairies. And that seems almost reasonable. Read More

After a wet and snowy winter, wildfires rage across the West

[LA Times] Thousands of firefighters across 10 states west of the Mississippi River are battling massive fires that have destroyed homes and displaced hundreds of people and, in some cases, continue to burn out of control.
The unusual amounts of snowfall and rain across the West this last winter helped facilitate tall grass and more vegetation — creating conducive conditions for large fires once the hot and humid months of summer rolled around. Lightning strikes have sparked many of the fires and some blazes have been burning for weeks.
Wildfires remain active in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wyoming, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
“When wildfires threaten resources, that’s when firefighters will do everything they can to minimize the threat and go after the fires to put them out,” said Robyn Broyles, spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire Center. “At the same time, wildfires play an important role to helping restore the balance of our ecosystem. In that case, firefighters supervise it.”
There are currently 40 uncontained large fires burning across the nation. So far this year, the entire United States has experienced 36,182 large fires, which burned nearly 5 million acres — almost the size of Minnesota, Broyles said.
Here are a few key states where crews are fighting flames.
Montana
The largest of 16 wildfires that have engulfed parts of Montana is burning in Garfield County, where 657 firefighters are on the fire lines, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Crews from 23 states have joined local firefighters to battle the fire, according to Ray Hageman, Garfield County fire warden.
“Some people are ecstatic that people are here to help them,” Hageman said of county residents. “But others just lost their entire livelihood. It’s rough.”
Twelves homes were destroyed and about six ranches severely damaged. Still, about 99% of livestock in the county has been taken out of harm’s way, and though some people experienced heat exhaustion and heat strokes in recent days, there have been no reports of major injuries, he said.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on Monday declared a fire emergency in the state after more than 250,000 acres of the Lodgepole Complex fire burned. That fire started on July 19 following a lightning storm.
“Montana is racing extreme fire conditions. Our top priority is ensuring the safety of Montanans, their property and our communities,” Bullock said in a statement Monday. “As firefighters battle blazes across the state, Montanans must stay vigilant about active fires in their area … and prevent any actions that might spark new fires.”
Nevada
At least seven active wildfires are burning across different parts of Nevada, the National Interagency Fire Center said.
In Douglas County, which borders California near Lake Tahoe, the wildfire sparked by lightning storms threatened structures and led to evacuation orders that were lifted Tuesday after favorable weather slowed the fire, according to the Sierra Front Wildfire Cooperators, while some roads remained closed.
As of Wednesday, 4,651 acres have burned in the county.
Oregon
There are six active wildfires currently burning through different parts of Oregon.
One of the larger blazes is the Whitewater Fire in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area.
The fire doesn’t present an immediate danger to private property because it is mainly burning in the wilderness. But the area is a popular destination for hikers and at least four hiking trails remain closed. Read More




NASA finds moon of Saturn has chemical that could form 'membranes'

[Space Daily] NASA scientists have definitively detected the chemical acrylonitrile in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan, a place that has long intrigued scientists investigating the chemical precursors of life.
On Earth, acrylonitrile, also known as vinyl cyanide, is useful in the manufacture of plastics. Under the harsh conditions of Saturn's largest moon, this chemical is thought to be capable of forming stable, flexible structures similar to cell membranes. Other researchers have previously suggested that acrylonitrile is an ingredient of Titan's atmosphere, but they did not report an unambiguous detection of the chemical in the smorgasbord of organic, or carbon-rich, molecules found there.
Now, NASA researchers have identified the chemical fingerprint of acrylonitrile in Titan data collected by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. The team found large quantities of the chemical on Titan, most likely in the stratosphere - the hazy part of the atmosphere that gives this moon its brownish-orange color.
"We found convincing evidence that acrylonitrile is present in Titan's atmosphere, and we think a significant supply of this raw material reaches the surface," said Maureen Palmer, a researcher with the Goddard Center for Astrobiology at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of a July 28, 2017, paper in Science Advances.
The cells of Earth's plants and animals would not hold up well on Titan, where surface temperatures average minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 179 degrees Celsius), and lakes brim with liquid methane.
In 2015, university scientists tackled the question of whether any organic molecules likely to be on Titan could, under such inhospitable conditions, form structures similar to the lipid bilayers of living cells on Earth. Thin and flexible, the lipid bilayer is the main component of the cell membrane, which separates the inside of a cell from the outside world. This team identified acrylonitrile as the best candidate.
Those researchers proposed that acrylonitrile molecules could come together as a sheet of material similar to a cell membrane. The sheet could form a hollow, microscopic sphere that they dubbed an "azotosome." This sphere could serve as a tiny storage and transport container, much like the spheres that lipid bilayers can form.
"The ability to form a stable membrane to separate the internal environment from the external one is important because it provides a means to contain chemicals long enough to allow them to interact," said Michael Mumma, director of the Goddard Center for Astrobiology, which is funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute. "If membrane-like structures could be formed by vinyl cyanide, it would be an important step on the pathway to life on Saturn's moon Titan." Read More

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Climate Change and Geoengineering: Artificially Cooling Planet Earth by Thinning Cirrus Clouds

[Newsweek] As part of the Paris Agreement in 2015, nearly 200 world leaders agreed to curb greenhouse gas emissions and strive to keep temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in order to avoid dangerous and irreversible climate change by the end of the century.
At present, climate scientists regard warming of two degrees above pre-industrial levels as the threshold for global warming. After this point, extreme weather will become more likely—increasing the risks of storms, droughts and a rise in sea levels. Consequences include food and water scarcity, and increased migration as parts of the planet become uninhabitable.
If global emissions continue on their current trajectory, some scientists estimate we will surpass the two-degree limit by 2050. And with Donald Trump poised to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, the chance of achieving the set target looks even less likely.
Over recent decades, scientists from across the globe have been discussing the potential of geoengineering—the deliberate manipulation of the environment that could, in theory, cool the planet and help stabilize the climate.
There are main two types of geoengineering. The first involves removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it. This is already being done on an industrial scale, but it is not effective enough at the moment to cope with the huge levels of emissions. The other type, solar radiation management, is more radical—an attempt to reduce the amount of sunlight absorbed by the planet by reflecting it away.
Many ways of doing this have been proposed. One of the most widely discussed (and riskiest) involves the injection of reflective aerosols into the upper atmosphere. This plan is based on the cooling effect of volcanoes: Sulfur dioxide emitted in an eruption causes the formation of droplets of sulfuric acid. These reflect the sunlight away, creating a cooling effect. But this plan could also go very wrong. The sulfuric acid could strip away the ozone layer, leaving Earth completely exposed to the sun’s radiation.
In an article published in the journal Science, Ulrike Lohmann and Blaž Gasparini, from the ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, discuss a variation of this idea: the thinning of cirrus clouds to target the long-wave radiation coming from Earth.
Cirrus clouds are thin and wispy clouds that form at high altitudes and do not reflect much solar radiation back into space, creating a greenhouse effect. The higher the altitude at which they form, the larger the warming effect on the climate. And in a warmer climate, cirrus clouds form at higher altitudes.
So what if we got rid of them? These clouds could be thinned out—leading to a reduction in their warming effect—by seeding them with aerosol particles like sulfuric or nitric acid, which act as “ice nucleating particles” or INPs. If these are injected into the level of the atmosphere where cirrus clouds form, the way they form would be altered, resulting in thinner clouds that have less of a warming effect. Read More

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Principles Of Spiritual Healing

[Bayside Journal] The term, “Spiritual healing” may seem to be an odd word in this era of advanced technology. However, the truth of the very existence of the invisible power called “God” cannot be just ignored. As Spirituality involves the acceptance of God beyond intelligence with whom we have a relationship, spiritual healing does have a great importance in a person’s life.
The Principles:
You will be well- aware of the fact that, physical healing greatly depends upon deeper healing of spirit, which is based on metaphysical principles. Spiritual Healing is said to be the natural energy therapy and spiritual healing complements the conventional medicine by treating the whole parts of the body of a person including mind, body and spirit. Healers act as a conduit for healing energy, sometimes this is described as ‘love and light’ which relaxes the body. This technique includes other benefits and that helps us to release tension and increase the stimulation of self-healing. The benefits of healing can be felt on many levels, not just the physical and the effects can be profound.
Developing a connection with God will get you the feeling of safety in soul. Spiritual healing makes us understand the fact that we are not all alone in the universe, even at those times when we feel temporarily separated from other people. We feel extreme security as we believe that there is a source that we can always seek help from. In short, spiritual Healing teaches us the art of living.
Spiritual healing can be done to any person of any religion. Spirituality is not something for the chosen few or the pious alone. DNA Activation is the most powerful alternate healing technique that can assist in the healing of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual problems.
Prayer, visualization, channeling of spiritual energy, devices that transmit healing forces, channeling of Spiritual Helpers and Guides, personal spiritual realization, advanced levels of concentration, psychic abilities are some of the methods of spiritual healing methods in practice today. These techniques enable the people to recover from certain disorders very quickly. Enlightenment is guided through the willingness of human by rationality rather than by faith or superstition and backed up by the view of the world increasingly validated by science and not by religion or tradition. Spiritual healing has the awakening power and enables to discover the potentiality to achieve our goals. Read More

This Map Shows Earth's Turbulent History of Supervolcano Eruptions

[Inverse] A sudden swarm of earthquakes in Montana set off fears that the supervolcano at Yellowstone National Park could be reawakened in early July, spewing more lava by volume than there is ice in the iceberg that just broke off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf.
It was, however, fake news that the Yellowstone supervolcano — or “lava geyser,” as the post called it — was spewing lava. While experts do not expect the Yellowstone volcano to erupt without warning, there’s always a small probability. According to one scientific study, there’s a one percent chance of a supereruption in the next 7,200 years.
A supervolcano is typically defined as a volcano that ejects at least 240 cubic miles of magma in one eruption to earn a Magnitude 8 or higher on the Volcanic Explosivity Index. To put that in perspective, the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helen’s expelled just 0.7 cubic miles of rock.
Supervolcanoes don’t form mountain peaks, but instead form massive craters called calderas. As the magma chamber under the surface shoots massive quantities of gas, ash, and molten rock upwards through seams in Earth’s crust, the ground sinks down to fill the emptying cavity below.
This map, though incomplete, shows some of the past major volcanic events of Earth’s relatively recent history, on the order of dozens of millions of years. Evidence of much older events will have been washed away by the dynamic ticking of geological time. Magnitude 8 supervolcano eruptions are in red. The smaller orange icons show the larger Magnitude 7 events of the past. See Maps and Read More

Extreme Weather Takes A Toll On Wheat Harvests. Climate Change Will Make It Worse.

[Huffington Post] “There are indications that the results and effects of global warming, and especially the recent acceleration of global warming, are already visible as a signal,” Matteo Zampieri, an Italian climatologist and irrigation expert working for the European Union, told HuffPost Tuesday. “They are emerging in a statistically significant way.”
The findings were published last month in the journal Environmental Research Letters, and the researchers are now expanding the study to examine corn and rice. Climate has an even bigger effect on corn, accounting for as much as 50 percent of its yield variability, they found.
Rice requires a more sophisticated analysis, Zampieri said. The grain is often grown in deliberately flooded paddies, making it less sensitive to weather fluctuations. But water scarcity ― yet another impact of global climate change ― would likely decrease rice production as well.
As food production drops, prices will go up. Studies have already found that manmade global warming has driven up the cost of food by as much as 20 percent over the past few decades. Beef prices alone skyrocketed 34 percent from 2010 to 2014 amid historic droughts in cattle-ranching states like California and Texas.
Another factor will be the world’s growing population. More people will mean more competition for water and other resources ― making it more important than ever for crop yields to reach their potential, Zampieri said.

California Communities Facing Rising Sea Level Sue Big Oil Companies For Damage Done

[Shadow Proof] Two counties in California, Marin and San Mateo Counties, as well as the city of Imperial Beach, sued 37 fossil fuel corporations for damage they claim the companies allegedly knew would occur as a result of their contribution to rising sea level and global warming.
“Major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry have known for nearly a half century that unrestricted production and use of their fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate,” the lawsuits assert. “They have known for decades that those impacts could be catastrophic and that only a narrow window existed to take action before the consequences would not be reversible.”
Nevertheless, according to the lawsuit, fossil fuel corporations “engaged in a coordinated, multi-front effort to conceal and deny their own knowledge of those threats, discredit the growing body of publicly available scientific evidence, and persistently create doubt in the minds of customers, consumers, regulators, the media, journalists, teachers, and the public about the reality and consequences of the impacts of their fossil fuel pollution.”
The lawsuits seek “compensatory damages,” relief for the “nuisances” described in the complaint, “punitive damages,” and the “disgorgement” or giving up of profits.
San Francisco Bay Area and San Mateo County, the San Mateo lawsuit states, are “particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and changes in salinity, temperature, and runoff.” San Mateo’s “topography, geography, and land use patterns make it particularly susceptible to injuries from sea level rise.”
“Because the California coast south of Cape Mendocino, including San Mateo, is projected, due to its geophysical characteristics, to experience a higher rate of sea level rise and a greater absolute amount of sea level rise” than the global average. Read More

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Thriving 23-Year-Old Permaculture Food Forest - An Invitation for Wildness

The Age of Biological Annihilation

[Pacific Standard] Habitat loss, over-hunting, and climate change are just a few of the human-induced changes to the Earth that biologists say are driving the planet's "sixth mass extinction." Research has shown that we're losing two vertebrate species a year—a pace that's on par with Earth's other five extinction surges, including the most recent that snuffed out the dinosaurs about 66 million years ago.
But the wave of pressure on life is rippling far beyond the growing list of endangered animals closest to the edge of extinction, according to a new study. This "biological annihilation" is, in fact, decimating populations of thousands of other species and potentially threatening our own way of life, a team of biologists recently reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"We have to be very careful not to be alarmist on the one hand," said Gerardo Ceballos, a biologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and lead author of the study. "But now, the problem is so big and so overwhelming, the magnitude so huge, [that] not to mention it in this proper way would be irresponsible."
The loss of approximately 200 species a century might not seem extreme through the lens of one person's lifespan, but it's as much as 100 times faster than historical estimates, according to a 2015 study also led by Ceballos. He explained that under "normal circumstances," it might have taken as many as 10,000 years for that many animals to vanish.
The team also suspected that this outright loss of species might be masking a wider-ranging problem in which distinct populations are disappearing, so they decided to look beyond the animals classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. To get an idea of how animals' ranges—and therefore their populations—are changing, they looked at a sample of 27,600 vertebrates, which is roughly half the species that we know exist. Read More

Former NASA Climate Chief Warns That Earth Could Become “Practically Ungovernable”

Former NASA climate chief James Hansen believes climate change's most dangerous effect will be a continuous rise in sea levels and not necessarily the increase in temperatures. Because so many people live in coastal cities, the mass migrations inland that will follow this rise could leave the world in ungovernable chaos. 
[Futurism] Simply fixating on the potential negative effects of climate change instead of focusing on efforts to combat it will not help our planet. However, climate change predictions are the reason these efforts matter, and they provide valuable insights as to how we should take action.
According to former NASA climate research head James Hansen, the effect of climate change we should be most focused on isn’t the warming of the atmosphere. It’s the rising sea levels.
Hansen told New York Mag that he doesn’t think the atmosphere will actually warm as much as some have predicted by the end of the century, but he does think that sea levels will rise significantly due to melting polar caps. “I don’t think we’re going to get four or five degrees [Celsius] this century, because we get a cooling effect from the melting ice. But the biggest effect will be that melting ice,” he asserted. “In my opinion that’s the big thing – sea-level rise.”
In a paper published last year, Hansen warned that continuous reliance on fossil fuels could increase sea levels by several meters in just a period of 50 to 150 years. That seems like a long time, but Hansen’s predictions are significantly greater than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s projected range of sea level rise of 30 centimeters (~1 foot) to just under a meter (3.2 feet).
Coastlines are home to more than half the world’s large cities, so a significant portion of the population will be affected by these rising sea levels. “The economic implications of that, and the migrations and the social effects of migrations … the planet could become practically ungovernable, it seems to me,” said Hansen.
Of course, the rising temperatures themselves will impact the population, too. While they won’t really be an issue in the U.S., Hansen believes they could be a major problem for countries in the subtropics. If the prediction of a four to five degrees Celsius (7.2 to nine degrees Fahrenheit) increase does come true, it would make these places practically uninhabitable and potentially grind their economies to a halt.
“It’s already becoming uncomfortable in the summers, in the subtropics. You can’t work outdoors, and agriculture, more than half of the jobs are outdoors,” he explained.
Hansen asserts that a carbon tax could help stabilize the economy as the world transitions away from fossil fuels, but the important thing is that this transition happens. Without serious efforts on every level, from the individual to the institutional, we stand no chance of preventing climate change from wreaking havoc on our planet. Learn More

Climate change may make it too hot to fly, study says

[LA Times] A spike in summer temperatures in Phoenix last month forced American Airlines to cancel dozens of flights because some planes used by the carrier’s regional airline could not operate in such extreme heat.
Airlines can expect to face such problems more often because of extreme temperatures caused by global climate change, according to a study from Columbia University.
The study, which appeared Thursday in the journal Climatic Change, estimated that 10% to 30% of fully loaded planes may have to remove fuel, cargo or passengers to fly during the hottest parts of the day or wait for temperatures to drop.
As temperatures rise, air becomes less dense, which means that aircraft wings generate less lift as a plane gains speed along a runway, experts say.
The study said average global temperatures have increased nearly 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since about 1980 and will rise by as much as 5.4 degrees by 2100. Heat waves will become more prevalent, causing more problems for airlines, according to the study by Columbia University doctoral student Ethan Coffel and climatologist Radley Horton. Read More

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Understanding Spirituality

[Deliberate] At its essence, spirituality is your life’s purpose and your journey to achieving your life’s purpose. This spirituality is essential to life because it answers ‘Why?’ Read on and learn to discover your spirituality.
Origins
The word spirit comes from the Latin word spiritus, which means ‘breath.’ Breath signifies life as it does in many other cultures.
Aspects of Spirituality
The three aspects of spirituality are relationships, values, and life meaning.
Relationships
Humans are social. Thus, your relationships with your family, friends, coworkers, lovers, and even acquaintances contribute to your spirituality. Best for your spirituality are healthy relationships, in which there are affection joy, freedom, care, and trust. These relationships provide you with people whom you vent to, ask for help from, and enjoy life with. Although you may know, quality is better than quantity.
Risks
Those lacking these relationships in one study of 309,000 people, had their risk of death from all disease increase by 50%. This effect is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes daily and is greater than the effects of obesity and physical inactivity. On the other hand, engaging in healthy relationships reduced stress. This reduction of stress affected the coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system all positively. Other research suggests that caring for another (a pillar in healthy relationships) releases stress-reducing hormones.
Another study found women in satisfying marriages have a lesser risk of cardiovascular disease than those in less satisfying relationships. But, again, not all relationships are good, because more studies linked negative interactions between family and friends to poorer health. So, only choose those that make you secure and happy. And healthy relationships also lowered the risk of dementia.
How do relationships tie into spirituality? Throughout life, you will have to interact with people, no matter if you wish to or not. With this knowledge of relationships, you may choose relationships which help you on your path to finding purpose in life. Read More

Hungry? Climate change will put a choke-hold on the food supply

[Red Green and Blue] Roughly 25% of all of the food currently eaten in the world is traded on international markets. Owing to this reality, and the accompanying reliance on a relatively small number of important deep-water seaports, roads, and straits — so-called “choke points” — climate change threatens to greatly disrupt international food supply chains in coming years, according to a new report from the UK-based think tank Chatham House.
In other words, these “chokepoints” are places where even relatively minor and local climate disruption may lead to huge problems with regard to food supplies and pricing in some regions and countries.
“The risks are growing as we all trade more with each other and as climate change takes hold,” commented one of the report’s authors, Laura Wellesley.
Climate Central provides more: “About 20 percent of global wheat exports, for example, transit via the Turkish Straits, while more than 25 percent of soybean exports is shipped across the Straits of Malacca.
“But infrastructure at these junctures is often old and ill-suited to cope with natural disasters, which are expected to increase in frequency as the planet warms, said Wellesley.
“Roads in Brazil, the world’s largest exporter of soy bean, for instance, were exposed to the risk of flooding and landslides caused by heavy rains, while US Gulf Coast ports could suffer more storm surges boosted by rising seas, she said. That posed risks for the food security of importing countries and the economies of those exporting food, she added.”
Something else that should be taken into consideration here is that impacts to the global food trade can (and likely will) come indirectly as well, not just because of the effects of climatic instability on infrastructure. The geopolitical and social problems that will accompany worsening climate change will, in other words, themselves lead to global food supply problems.

Why a Warming Arctic May Be Causing Colder U.S. Winters


[National Geographic] When a U.S. Republican senator threw a snowball onto the Senate floor in late February of 2015, he used it to underscore his belief that human-made climate change was an alarmist conclusion. The snowball had been rolled from the Capitol grounds in Washington D.C., which, at the time, was experiencing an uncharacteristically cold winter.
If global warming was real, he posited, how could the nation's capital experience such severe cold?
Uncharacteristically cold winters, however, just might be one of the most hard felt effects of climate change, according to a study published in Nature Geoscience by a team of researchers.
The study found that unusually cold temperatures in northern North America and lower precipitation in the south central U.S. all coincided with periods of warmer Arctic weather.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers analyzed how teleconnections in the Arctic cause cooler winters in North America. Teleconnections are largescale weather anomalies that influence weather across continents and span large portions of the atmosphere. The most commonly watched teleconnection weather patterns are El Ninos/as, but teleconnections are observed around the globe.
Anna Michalak, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science, was involved in creating an ensemble of models used to support the study's findings. She explained that the massive system of climate models, called MsTMIP, creates a large dataset that allows researchers to study the changes in the Earth terrestrial biosphere.

In order to reach their conclusions, the study's authors looked at how the terrestrial biosphere (all the plants and soil on the Earth's surface) contributed to or pulled carbon from the atmosphere. They found that over the past three decades, plants pulled less carbon from the Earth's atmosphere during periods of warmer weather in the arctic.
"Even though we're talking about the Arctic, it has immediate impacts on what we experience at lower latitudes," said Michalak. Read More
 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Firefighters Battle Wildfires Across the Western U.S. and Canada

[Time] Firefighters on Monday made progress against wildfires burning across numerous states in the hot, dry West.
That included California, where slightly cooler temperatures and diminishing winds helped firefighters as they battled several wildfires that have forced thousands to flee their homes in both ends of the state.
Here's a closer look at the fires burning in the western United States and Canada.
California
An estimated 4,000 people have evacuated their homes as flames raced through foothills in the Sierra Nevada, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Sacramento. The Oroville fire has blackened 9 square miles (23 square kilometers) of grass. It's 35 percent contained.
In Southern California, at least 3,500 people evacuated as two fires raged at separate ends of Santa Barbara County. The largest fire has charred more than 45 square miles (116 square kilometers) of dry brush and is threatening more than 130 rural homes. It's 15 percent contained.
About 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the south, a 17-square-mile (44-square-kilometer) blaze shut down State Route 154 and sent weekend campers scrambling for safety. It's just 5 percent contained.
"The sky sure is brown," said Therese Vannier of Goleta, California, in Santa Barbara County, on Monday. She said falling ash covered vehicles with a white powder. "The ash makes our eyes sting so bad," Vannier said.
"People are walking around covering their faces and wearing masks," said Dana Ross of Goleta.
Colorado
Firefighters are making progress battling wildfires burning in Colorado. As of Monday, crews have been able to build containment lines around 85 percent of the fire that forced the evacuation of hundreds of people near Breckenridge last week.In northwestern Colorado, a wildfire burning near Dinosaur National Monument is 40 percent contained. Portions of the 20-square-mile (52-square- kilometer) Peekaboo Fire has spread into steep, rocky terrain without a lot of fuel.
Arizona
In Arizona, rain has helped firefighters working a wildfire in mountains overlooking Tucson while also creating unsafe conditions for the crews.
Fire management officials say monsoon rains "hit the bullseye" Sunday, dropping more than 1 inch of rain in one area of the Santa Catalina Mountains. However, the rain also caused flooding and washed out roads and was accompanied by lightning, forcing firefighters to pause their work.
The fire has burned 42.6 square miles (110.3 square kilometers) of grass, brush and timber since starting June 30. Its cause is under investigation. It is 51 percent contained. Read More

Earthquakes can cause distant undersea landslides months later

[Futurity] Large earthquakes can cause underwater landslides thousands of miles away, weeks or months after the quake occurs, new research suggests.
Researchers analyzing data from ocean bottom seismometers off the Washington-Oregon coast tied a series of underwater landslides on the Cascadia Subduction Zone, 80 to 161 kilometers (50 to 100 miles) off the Pacific Northwest coast, to a 2012 magnitude-8.6 earthquake in the Indian Ocean—more than 13,500 kilometers (8,390 miles) away. These underwater landslides occurred intermittently for nearly four months after the April earthquake.
Previous research has shown earthquakes can trigger additional earthquakes on other faults across the globe, but the new study shows earthquakes can also initiate submarine landslides far away from the quake.
“The basic assumption…is that these marine landslides are generated by the local earthquakes,” says Paul Johnson, an oceanographer at the University of Washington and lead author of the new study. “But what our paper said is, ‘No, you can generate them from earthquakes anywhere on the globe.'”
The new findings could complicate sediment records used to estimate earthquake risk. If underwater landslides could be triggered by earthquakes far away, not just ones close by, scientists may have to consider whether a local or a distant earthquake generated the deposits before using them to date local events and estimate earthquake risk, according to the study’s authors.
The submarine landslides observed in the study are smaller and more localized than widespread landslides generated by a great earthquake directly on the Cascadia margin itself, but these underwater landslides generated by distant earthquakes may still be capable of generating local tsunamis and damaging underwater communications cables, according to the study authors.
The discovery that the Cascadia landslides were caused by a distant earthquake was an accident, Johnson says.
Scientists had placed ocean bottom seismometers off the Washington-Oregon coast to detect tiny earthquakes, and also to measure ocean temperature and pressure at the same locations. When Johnson found out about the seismometers at a scientific meeting, he decided to analyze the data the instruments had collected to see if he could detect evidence of thermal processes affecting seafloor temperatures, such as methane hydrate formation.
Johnson and his team combined the seafloor temperature data with pressure and seismometer data and video stills of sediment-covered instruments from 2011-2015. Small variations in temperature occurred for several months, followed by large spikes in temperature over a period of two to 10 days. Read More

How To Read the USGS Montana Earthquake Map and Not Go Crazy

[Inverse] The 5.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Lincoln, Montana on Thursday was the area’s strongest in 60 years. The tremors from this quake stretched for hundreds of miles across the state, and residents as far as Washington, Oregon, and parts of Canada reported shaking.
After an earthquake, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) gathers seismic data into an interactive map. These maps often look so crazy and hectic that they may blow earthquake- or volcano-related fears out of proportion, but worry not: It’s just because all the data is layered on top of each other. As the hefty online map manual explains, these data include shakes reported by the public, contour maps, past sites of earthquakes, and shake station locations all in one interactive map.
One layer of the map is called a ‘Do You Feel It’ (DYFI) map, which logs information that people call in. The star above points out the epicenter of the earthquake, and the squares represent the people who reported the earthquake. The colors indicate how strong the shaking was in their area — orange represents very strong vibrations, and the cooler blues and whites signify weak shaking. It’s scary to see squares as far as Edmonton, Canada, but residents from that town reported the shaking as weak with no damages. View the Maps and See More

The Uninhabitable Earth

Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.


[New York Magazine] It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.
Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.
Even when we train our eyes on climate change, we are unable to comprehend its scope. This past winter, a string of days 60 and 70 degrees warmer than normal baked the North Pole, melting the permafrost that encased Norway’s Svalbard seed vault — a global food bank nicknamed “Doomsday,” designed to ensure that our agriculture survives any catastrophe, and which appeared to have been flooded by climate change less than ten years after being built.
The Doomsday vault is fine, for now: The structure has been secured and the seeds are safe. But treating the episode as a parable of impending flooding missed the more important news. Until recently, permafrost was not a major concern of climate scientists, because, as the name suggests, it was soil that stayed permanently frozen. But Arctic permafrost contains 1.8 trillion tons of carbon, more than twice as much as is currently suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere. When it thaws and is released, that carbon may evaporate as methane, which is 34 times as powerful a greenhouse-gas warming blanket as carbon dioxide when judged on the timescale of a century; when judged on the timescale of two decades, it is 86 times as powerful. In other words, we have, trapped in Arctic permafrost, twice as much carbon as is currently wrecking the atmosphere of the planet, all of it scheduled to be released at a date that keeps getting moved up, partially in the form of a gas that multiplies its warming power 86 times over. Read More

Friday, June 30, 2017

Mapping The Potential Economic Effects Of Climate Change

[NPR] Climate scientists agree that this century is getting much warmer and that such warming will likely bring economic pain to the U.S., but economists aren't sure how much. Now, a team of scientists and economists, writing in the upcoming issue of the journal Science, says it can at least tell which parts of the country are likely to suffer the most.
The researchers started with history: How have heat waves and drought affected the economy in the past? Then they applied that metric to a range of future warming scenarios — from minor to extreme — and mapped the effects, county by county across the U.S. They found that if warming continues at recent rates, it could shave 3 to 6 percentage points off of the country's gross domestic product by century's end — the warmer it gets, the bigger the hit to the economy.
Lead researcher Solomon Hsiang acknowledges that the numbers are uncertain by scientific standards but that they aren't really the bottom line. "I think the takeaway message that is most striking is that the effects of climate change on the U.S. are not the same everywhere," says Hsiang, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley. "Where you are in the country really matters."
Colder places like New England might see an economic upturn — for example, from lower heating bills. But places that are already hot, like the South and Midwest, could see huge damage to their local economies, due to enormous electric bills, dying crops or mass migration away from the area.
Maybe that is not so surprising, but Hsiang takes it a step further: Climate change will redistribute wealth by driving workers, businesses and agriculture away from those hard-hit regions and move them mostly toward the north and west of the country. Again, Hsiang says exactly how much is hard to predict. But he says that is actually part of the new study's findings: "When you start changing the climate," he says, "it starts affecting all these aspects of the economy, and it makes the future world harder to predict." Read More

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Psychics Who Hear Voices Could Be On to Something

[The Atlantic] Jessica Dorner was lying in bed at her cousin’s house when her grandmother, a “pushy lady” in an apron who had been dead for several years, appeared in front of her. “I know you can see me,” Jessica heard her say, “and you need to do something about it.”
It was a lonely time in Jessica’s life. She was living away from home for the first time, and she thinks her grandmother was drawn by some sense of that. She eventually told her parents what happened, and according to her they were concerned, but not overly panicked. “My parents are probably the least judgmental people I know,” she said.
As Jessica tells it, over the next two years, spirits visited her every now and again. Her brother-in-law’s deceased father began forming before her, ghostlike, just as her grandmother did. And while the experiences were intense and at times made her feel “crazy,” she said, they were infrequent, and insists that they were never a real source of suffering.
Jessica later moved back home and got a job as a pharmacy technician, all the while figuring out how to cope with what was happening to her. At a co-worker’s suggestion, she went to the Healing in Harmony center in Connecticut. In 2013, she says, she enrolled in classes there that taught her to use her “gift.” A self-described psychic medium, Jessica tells me she hears voices that other people do not (in addition to sometimes seeing people others do not see), at varying intensity, and mostly through her right ear.
Meeting others like her at the center gave Jessica a sense of relief. “Just being around people who are going through similar things—that helps a lot, because I could talk to anybody about those things and not feel like I was crazy,” she said.
It was through a friend from the center that Jessica ended up in the lab of Philip Corlett and Albert Powers, a psychologist and a psychiatrist at Yale. In a study published last fall in Schizophrenia Bulletin, Powers and Corlett compared self-described psychics with people diagnosed with a psychotic disorder who experience auditory hallucinations.
“A lot of the time, if someone says they hear voices, you immediately jump to psychotic illness, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia,” Corlett said. But research suggests hearing voices is not all that uncommon. A survey from 1991—the largest of its kind since—found that 10 to 15 percent of people in the U.S. experienced sensory hallucinations of some sort within their lifetime. And other research, as well as growing advocacy movements, suggest hearing voices isn’t always a sign of psychological distress.
The researchers at Yale were looking for a group of people who hear voices at least once a day, and had never before interacted with the mental-health-care system. They wanted to understand, as Corlett put it, those who do not suffer when “the mind deviates from consensual reality.” Read More

Monday, June 26, 2017

Ram Dass – Here and Now – Ep. 112 – The Notion of Ego with Chogyam Trung...

Many Native Communities Are Being Forced to Relocate Due to Climate Change

[The Planet] Fawn Sharp grew up in Taholah village, a small community on the Quinault Reservation nestled between the mouth of the Quinault River and the Pacific Ocean. She spent her childhood summers surrounded by water, splashing in Lake Quinault on the eastern edge of the reservation, and hiking along the local beaches near the village, scouring the rocks for starfish and other treasures. In the mornings, she was often up before the sun, out fishing with her grandparents on the river.
Decades after she left home for college, Sharp is back on the reservation, this time living near the lake, some 35 miles from her childhood home in Taholah. Now she goes by President Sharp, and leads both the Quinault Indian Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.
Since returning, Sharp has faced the kinds of tough issues that might have seemed outlandish, or even inconceivable, during her childhood. She’s seen the tribe’s salmon runs in sharp decline. She’s observed the rapid retreat of nearby glaciers. And she’s watched her childhood home, Taholah, endure dangerous flooding during increasingly harsh storm surges.
Given the growing threat that climate change poses to the “lower village,” as tribal members refer to the lower portion of Taholah, paired with ongoing concerns about the village’s vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunamis, Sharp and the Quinault leadership were forced to make an almost unthinkable decision: to leave home.
The Quinault have lived on the Olympic Peninsula for centuries, since long before the 1855 Quinault River Treaty established the Quinault Reservation and ceded vast tracts of lands to Washington State. The reservation is wedged between the towering mountains and dense temperate rainforest of Olympic National Park to the east and beaches and oceans to the west. It’s bisected by the swift Quinault River, and is home to black bear, Roosevelt elk, and bald eagles. The tribe’s ties to the land are strong. As it proudly claims on its website: “We are among the small number of Americans who can walk the same beaches, paddle the same waters, and hunt the same lands our ancestors did centuries ago.” Read More


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Stephen Hawking calls for a return to the moon as Earth’s clock runs out

[Washington Post] Humans are overdue for a return trip to the moon, Stephen Hawking has just opined.
Speaking on Tuesday at the Starmus Festival, a science-slash-musical gathering, the astrophysicist offered two parts doom cut with one part scientific optimism. He argued that we should prepare for a cosmic exodus to take place in the next 200 to 500 years.
“We are running out of space, and the only place we can go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems,” he said via video link to the audience gathered in Trondheim, Norway. “Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.”
Hawking's plan to boogie off this planet is ambitious: Countries should collaborate to construct a moon colony within 30 years. We can reach Mars “in the next 15 years,” he said, with a base to follow a few decades later.
The head of the European Space Agency said in 2016 that a “moon village” would take 20 years to plan and construct. NASA's long-term plans include sending humans to Mars by the 2030s.
Astronauts last walked on the moon in 1972, the same year that Elton John's “Rocket Man” debuted on vinyl. The final lunar visitor, Eugene Cernan, died in January. Cernan remained a lifelong advocate for space travel, testifying before Congress in 2011 that American space exploration was on “a path of decay” after the Obama administration shuttered NASA's Constellation moon program.
Hawking's gloom goes beyond decay into eschatology. In November, he said we had about 1,000 years left before escaping to the stars. In May, he chopped that timetable to the next hundred years. During his speech Tuesday, titled “The future of humanity,” the 75-year-old black hole expert said that “Earth is under threat from so many areas that it is difficult for me to be positive.” Read More

The failures of modern capitalism are forcing us to appreciate the virtues of the simple life again

[Quartz] The good life is the simple life. Among philosophical ideas about how we should live, this one is a hardy perennial; from Socrates to Thoreau, from the Buddha to Wendell Berry, thinkers have been peddling it for more than two millennia. And it still has plenty of adherents. Magazines such as Real Simple call out to us from the supermarket checkout; Oprah Winfrey regularly interviews fans of simple living such as Jack Kornfield, a teacher of Buddhist mindfulness; the Slow Movement, which advocates a return to pre-industrial basics, attracts followers across continents.
Through much of human history, frugal simplicity was not a choice but a necessity—and since necessary, it was also deemed a moral virtue. But with the advent of industrial capitalism and a consumer society, a system arose that was committed to relentless growth, and with it grew a population (aka “the market”) that was enabled and encouraged to buy lots of stuff that, by traditional standards, was surplus to requirements. As a result, there’s a disconnect between the traditional values we have inherited and the consumerist imperatives instilled in us by contemporary culture.
In pre-modern times, the discrepancy between what the philosophers advised and how people lived was not so great. Wealth provided security, but even for the rich wealth was flimsy protection against misfortunes such as war, famine, disease, injustice and the disfavor of tyrants. The Stoic philosopher Seneca, one of the richest men in Rome, still ended up being sentenced to death by Nero. As for the vast majority—slaves, serfs, peasants and laborers—there was virtually no prospect of accumulating even modest wealth.
Before the advent of machine-based agriculture, representative democracy, civil rights, antibiotics and aspirin, just making it through a long life without too much suffering counted as doing pretty well. Today, though, at least in prosperous societies, people want and expect (and can usually have) a good deal more. Living simply now strikes many people as simply boring. Read More

North Korea and U.S. War the Subject of Peruvian Shamans' Prevention Ritual

[Newsweek] Increasing military tensions between North Korea and the U.S. aren’t just causing concern for East Asia—in Peru, four shamans have performed a ritual in a bid to save the world from a third world war.
The shamans carried their instruments, skulls, flowers, candles, American and North Korean flags to a hill just outside the capital of Lima on Monday and built an altar pointing to the four cardinal points.
As part of the ritual, they placed hot spices, incense, fruit, herbs and stones on posters of U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin. They then made a plea for peace and “to avoid any unnecessary deaths,” shaman Juán Osco explained, quoted in Spanish news agency Efe.
“We are doing a special ritual for peace between the U.S. and North Korea because they are using all the best modern weapons, but the world demands peace and not conflicts, wars, destructions and slaughter,” Osco told Euronews.
The shamans, who are considered to be physical and spiritual healers, closely follow world events in their rituals. Some of the shamans who performed the ritual on Monday were also involved in one just ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November. At the time, EFE reported, their predictions on the winners differed: Osco forecast a victory for Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, while shaman Marino de los Santos said Trump would win because of his “spiritual powers.” Read More

By 2100, Deadly Heat May Threaten Majority of Humankind


[National Geographic] A new study has found that 30 percent of the world’s population is currently exposed to potentially deadly heat for 20 days per year or more—and like a growing forest fire, climate change is spreading this extreme heat.
Without major reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2, up to three in four people will face the threat of dying from heat by 2100. However, even with reductions, one in two people at the end of the century will likely face at least 20 days when extreme heat can kill, according to the analysis, published on Monday in Nature Climate Change.

“Lethal heatwaves are very common. I don’t know why we as a society are not more concerned about the dangers,” says Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the study’s lead author. “The 2003 European heatwave killed approximately 70,000 people—that’s more than 20 times the number of people who died in the September 11 attacks.”
Dangerous heatwaves are far more common than anyone realized, killing people in more than 60 different parts of the world every year. Notable deadly heatwaves include the 2010 Moscow event that killed at least 10,000 people and the 1995 Chicago heatwave, where 700 people died of heat-related causes. Read More

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Texas-size chunk of Antarctica partially melted last year

[Popular Science] El Niño has given us a preview of West Antarctica’s future, and things do not look good.
For two weeks in January of 2016, unusually warm weather caused a 300,000 square mile patch of the Ross Ice Shelf to partially melt. The roughly Texas-sized area, blanketed in a slushy mixture of ice and water, represents one of the first times scientists have been able to catch such widespread Antarctic melting in action. The findings were published this week in Nature Communications.
The meltwater caused no sea level rise, because eventually it re-froze. So this event poses no immediate danger to us. But it does give scientists a terrifying glimpse into Antarctica’s future.
A strong El Niño event caused the bizarrely warm conditions. During the El Niño climate pattern, the Pacific Ocean’s surface heats up around the equator, and currents carry the warmer than average temperatures to Canada, the U.S., and Antarctica. In this case, El Niño brought rainfall to West Antarctica, which is quite an extraordinary event.
“The story of melt all over the ice shelf rattled through the science community as it happened,” Robin Bell, an Antarctic researcher at Columbia University who was not involved in the study told The Washington Post. “Who had heard of rain in Antarctica—it is a desert!”
As our planet warms, El Niño events are expected to become more frequent over the next century. So melting events like this could become more common, too.
We already knew that warm ocean waters have been melting the Ross Ice Shelf—the world’s largest block of floating ice—from below. The new research confirms that balmy weather can melt it from above as well.
Being attacked from the bottom and the top could make Ross fracture and collapse more quickly. That’s not good, because ice shelves like Ross help hold Antarctic ice on land, which keeps glaciers out of the water. Once the shelves fracture, that ice can pour into the ocean a lot faster. David Bromwich, a climate researcher at Ohio State University, told Motherboard that if the Ross Ice Shelf collapses, sea levels would rise by 11 feet, which could flood nearly 30,000 square miles in the U.S. alone. Read More

Friday, June 16, 2017

Earth Is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction

[The Atlantic] At the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, Smithsonian paleontologist Doug Erwin took the podium to address a ballroom full of geologists on the dynamics of mass extinctions and power grid failures—which, he claimed, unfold in the same way.
“These are images from the NOAA website of the US blackout in 2003,” he said, pulling up a nighttime satellite picture of the glowing northeastern megalopolis, megawatts afire under the cold dark of space. “This is 20 hours before the blackout. You can see Long Island and New York City.”
“And this is seven hours into the blackout,” he said, pulling up a new map, cloaked in darkness. “New York City is almost dark. The blackout extended all the way up into Toronto, all the way out to Michigan and Ohio. It covered a huge section of both Canada and the United States. And it was largely due to a software bug in a control room in Ohio.”
Erwin is one of the world’s experts on the End-Permian mass extinction, an unthinkable volcanic nightmare that nearly ended life on earth 252 million years ago. He proposed that earth’s great mass extinctions might unfold like these power grid failures: most of the losses may come, not from the initial shock—software glitches in the case of power grid failures, and asteroids and volcanoes in the case of ancient mass extinctions—but from the secondary cascade of failures that follow. These are devastating chain reactions that no one understands. Erwin thinks that most mass extinctions in earth’s history—global die-offs that killed the majority of animal life on earth—ultimately resulted, not from external shocks, but from the internal dynamics of food webs that faltered and failed catastrophically in unexpected ways, just as the darkening eastern seaboard did in 2003.
“Because it was not clear how to manage that collapse—although after the fact it was clear that it should have been easily contained—it cascaded into failure of grids across the northeastern United States ...  I mention this because it turns out that, from a mathematical point of view, the problem of understanding these food webs is exactly the [same] problem as understanding the nature of the power grid. There’s a very rapid collapse of the ecosystem during these mass extinctions,” he said. Read More

Climate Change Pushing Tropical Diseases Toward Arctic

[National Geographic] He'd gone for a swim in the Gulf of Mexico, whose warm waters, it turned out, would soon kill him. The 31-year-old man arrived at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas three days after his dip in the Atlantic. Crushing pain was radiating from his new calf tattoo—an image of hands clasping a cross along with the phrase "Jesus is my life." He had a fever, and dangerously low blood pressure. Black blisters appeared around his ankles. His kidneys and lungs began shutting down. Gangrenous tissue splotched his hips and toes. Within two months, he was dead.
The culprit, a meddlesome bacterium called Vibrio vulnificus, occurs naturally in warm ocean water. It can seep into scrapes or fresh wounds, including those from tattoo needlework. Infections like the one that killed this man in 2016 have appeared sporadically for years in warm seas from Texas to Maryland. But as greenhouse gases boost temperatures across the globe, rare pathogens like these from hotter parts of the planet are now creeping toward the poles, creating new risks for people. Deadly warm-water Vibrio illnesses are on the rise, now appearing even near the Arctic Circle.
"We are seeing lots of new hospitable areas opening up for these bacteria," says Craig Baker-Austin, a Vibrio expert who runs the United Kingdom's Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences laboratory in southern England. "Climate change is essentially driving this process, especially warming."
t's no secret that climate change can spread illnesses such as West Nile virus, Zika, and malaria, as rising temperatures push disease-carrying mosquitoes into new places, from the highlands of Ethiopia to the United States. But warm temperatures and shifting weather patterns work in subtle ways, too. Changes in precipitation, wind, or heat are shifting the threat posed by other human illnesses, from cholera to a rare freshwater brain-eating amoeba to rodent-driven infections like hantavirus. And the importance of all these changes are only growing more significant. Read More

Rain and snow help stress out earthquake faults A little bit.

[Popular Science] Natural forces shape every inch of our globe, but in California, the two big players are water falling out of the sky (or the lack thereof) and earthquakes.
For a long time, many researchers figured that the two were unrelated. Earthquakes can mess with groundwater levels and aquifers, but not rain, and for the most part, it was assumed that rain and snow didn’t make enough of an impression on the Earth to really affect earthquakes either.
But a study published today in Science found a connection between seasonal precipitation and earthquakes, especially some of the very small ones.
Much of California has two distinct seasons—wet and dry. During the wet season, reservoirs fill, snowpacks build up on mountaintops, and the ground fills with moisture. In drier months, all that water starts moving, melting, and evaporating. This massive amount of water concentrated in the region collectively weighs so much that it can push down on the Earth by a fraction of an inch.
Earth scientists Christopher Johnson and Roland Bürgmann of UC Berkeley were able to measure those seasonal flexes in the Earth using a network of sensors called EarthScope that tracks tiny movements of the ground under our feet. The network includes GPS measurements (like you have in your phone) that record how the Earth’s surface moves in response to stress. For instance, a bunch of water being dumped on it every season. Read More