Tuesday, March 20, 2018

UK weather latest: climate expert warns of more 'Beasts from the East' and says humans will struggle to produce food and clean water within 50 years

[Evening Standard] A polar scientist has warned of more weather events like the Beast From the East as climate change worsens, saying with the world's current carbon emissions, humans will struggle to produce food and enough clean water within the next fifty years.
Professor Martin Siegert, a glaciologist Imperial College London, said unusual weather patterns like the extreme cold the UK has been experiencing in recent weeks, are “in line with” the predicted effects of global warming.
And he warned that these will be more common as parts of the earth heat up at different speeds – which could lead to further catastrophic weather such as flooding and snow storms.
Speaking to the Standard, Prof Siegert said that it is crucial for the world to heed to such warnings and head towards zero carbon emissions or risk being unable to produce food and use water in the way we have been. 
Prof Siegert is a director of Imperial’s Grantham Institute, which collaborates with scientists, business schools, economists, engineers, health professionals and others to tackle the problem of climate change and prepare for its affects. 
He explained that weather events such as the Beast From the East are in line with scientists’ predictions of how weather fronts would behave when the earth heats up.
“When we have extreme hot or flooding or cold – like we are getting at the moment – we hear a lot of contrasting views like ‘this is climate change’ or they say ‘this is proof that climate change is not happening’,” he said.
How does that relate to climate change? It is fair to say that we had snow before we started talking about climate change. Humans began changing out climate at industrial scale in 1850 yet it was certainly snowing before then.
“What we can say is that the extreme weather events we are witnessing are completely in line with climate change - extreme heat, flooding, cold…. 
“The atmosphere is one degree warmer now than it was in 1850 and when you energise the atmosphere you are going to have more extreme events in the UK and in many places.”
He explained that snow and flooding is caused when cold and warm weather fronts meet.
As the earth heats at different speeds, the difference in temperatures between weather fronts can become greater which enhances rain showers into flash flooding and snow. Read More

143 Million People May Soon Become Climate Migrants

[National Geographic] Climate change will transform more than 143 million people into “climate migrants” escaping crop failure, water scarcity, and sea-level rise, a new World Bank report concludes.
Most of this population shift will take place in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America—three “hot spots” that represent 55 percent of the developing world’s populations.
This worst-case scenario is part of a ground-breaking study focused on the impacts of slow-onset climate, as opposed to more visibly dramatic events such as extreme storms and flooding. The report, Groundswell—Preparing for Internal Climate Migration, also shifts the focus from cross-border migration, which has drawn global attention as refugees and migrants flee war, poverty and oppression, to in-country migration, which involves many more millions of people on the move in search of viable places to live. The 143 million represent 2.8 percent of the three regions’ population.
Sea-level rise is already prompting the migration of people from Pacific and Oceania island chains and low-lying coastal areas that flood regularly, and areas suffering extreme drought has sent others in search of sustainable farmland. Much of the coming migration will shift populations of people over the next three decades from rural areas to urban areas. Not surprisingly, the poorest people in the poorest countries will be hardest hit, the report finds.
The study’s authors say there is still reason for optimism: if the world acts in time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and engages in “robust development planning,” the flood of “climate migrants” could be reduced by 80 percent to a mere 40 million people. Read More

Monday, March 19, 2018

How farming with permaculture can mitigate climate change

[Wattagnet] “How do we take 950 million to 1.1 billion acres of damaged and degraded agricultural land and convert them into something that can actually produce something? With permaculture,” said Christopher Nesbitt, speaking at the 2018 Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) Organic Farming Conference on February 24 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Nesbitt manages Maya Mountain Research Farm in San Pedro Columbia, Belize, which promotes sustainable agriculture, appropriate technology and food security using permaculture principles and applied biodiversity.
Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The design principles and strategies, which can be applicable to a wide range of domains, seek to minimize waste, human labor and energy input. As a result, permaculture can help farmers produce more food using fewer resources. In practice, permaculture farms are organic, low-input and biodiverse.
Agroforestry is an integrated approach of permaculture, which uses the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops or livestock, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agroforestry Center. It combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy and sustainable land-use systems.
Farmers and producers are chiefly concerned about how energy efficiency can be improved in terms of generating higher yields relative to the amount of energy input. Permaculture, which works with nature rather than against it, meets and exceeds these goals as the system provides for its own energy needs, says Nesbitt. “It’s all about thinking about how we can manage our energy and nutrient streams so that we get more successional harvests.”
Maya Mountain Research Farm was founded in 1988 when Nesbitt bought an abandoned and damaged citrus and cattle farm. Years of cattle raising left the farm with acres of heavily compressed soils and the acres of citrus at the end of their productive life span. The region where Nesbitt farms also faces the issue of a population that doubles every 25 years. As a result, the area has been deforested, crop rotation cycles are not being observed and people have begun to make bad long-term decisions for short-term need. These decisions compromise the land for 30 to 40 years.
Over the last few decades, after applying the principles of permaculture, the Maya Mountain Research Farm has been transformed into a productive food forest with over 500 species of plants. In addition to the large agroforestry system, the farm raises pigs, chickens and ducks with a plan to raise sheep and goats and a developing aquaponics system. The farm also conducts training in permaculture, agroforestry and renewable energy. Read More

How to survive the Cascadia Earthquake? Tips from seismologist Lucy Jones, ‘the Beyoncé of earthquakes’

[Seattle Times] For three decades, seismologist Lucy Jones soothed the nerves of quake-rattled Californians with her calm explanations and common-sense preparedness tips. Her frequent media appearances, including some with her toddler cradled on her hip, earned her a level of celebrity unprecedented among earthquake scientists since Charles Richter lent his name to the first earthquake scale.
“She’s been called the Beyoncé of earthquakes, the Meryl Streep of government service, a woman breaking barriers in a man’s world,” the Los Angeles Times wrote in 2016 when Jones retired from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Now director of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, the pioneering researcher and communicator’s latest mission is helping cities boost their ability to bounce back from natural disasters by applying science in a way that makes a difference.
Jones got a taste of what it takes to spark political action during a temporary stint as Los Angeles’ earthquake “czar.” She helped create a gripping earthquake scenario to spell out what’s at stake and worked with politicians, building owners and affordable-housing advocates to push through the nation’s most aggressive seismic regulations requiring upgrades to dangerous buildings and other infrastructure.
On Monday, Jones will make her pitch for better quake preparedness in the Pacific Northwest at a free, public lecture at the University of Washington. In a Q&A with The Seattle Times (edited for clarity and brevity), she discussed topics ranging from our dread of earthquakes to why modern building codes aren’t as great as most people think, and how scientists have bungled explanations of earthquake risk.
Question: California has the country’s highest earthquake risk, but Washington is second. What’s your message for us?
Answer: You in many ways have a more challenging problem because you have fewer everyday earthquakes to bring the issue to public attention.
The concept of normalization bias (which causes people to underestimate the likelihood of a disaster and its effects) is a very strong thing in the human psyche. We’re clearly evolved to focus on more immediate threats and we need stories, we need emotional connections to understand why we need to take action.
Earthquakes are very difficult to plan for because of those reasons, especially if you don’t remember the last time you had one. In very quiet times, it’s very hard to get people engaged.
For a policymaker to decide it’s worthwhile spending money on this when you have competing claims of homelessness and other problems, you need an emotional reason to connect and relate to your constituents and scientists don’t understand that.
Q: What’s wrong with the way scientists communicate earthquake risk?
A: As scientists, we explicitly refuse to use stories. One of the favorite lines is: The plural of anecdote is not data.
When we did the ShakeOut scenario in California, we worked to make it a story, we made a movie out of it, the public fact sheet was written as a narrative.
We did not focus on probability. Talking about the probability of an earthquake in some time frame focuses on the part of the problem we don’t know the answer to. When you talk about the uncertainty, people can find a reason to think it won’t happen. Read More

Weird winter weather has scientists looking to the north pole

[Popular Science] Last October, experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted a fairly mild winter for the United States. Though they were careful to hedge their bets (“maps show only the most likely outcome,” NOAA warned, “but this is not the only possible outcome”), models suggested a weak La Niña would bring slightly colder than average temperatures to the northwest, with slightly warmer than average temperatures cropping up in the south and east.
But this winter, as anyone with a TV—or window—knows, appears to have turned out rather differently. The northeast has experienced three back-to-back-to-back storms. We rang in the New Year with a so-called “bomb cyclone” and, for one day only, it was colder in Florida than in Alaska. This weird weather wasn’t confined to the eastern seaboard, either. Seattle and other communities in the Pacific Northwest saw unusual snowfall in November, December, and February. Last month, Europe got colder than the north pole, allowing the residents of Rome to toss a few snowballs.
Meteorologists have offered solid analyses of each passing storm, but scientists are still trying to determine what larger forces are at work. In a paper published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, MIT climatologist Judah Cohen has a controversial message for all of them: it’s the Arctic, stupid.
By evaluating two indices—the polar cap geopotential height anomaly index and the polar cap air temperature anomaly index—and comparing them to real-life weather as measured by the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index, Cohen’s team was able to show that severe winter weather in the United States is often tied to (relatively) high heat in the North Pole. “If the Arctic is cold, that favors less severe winter in the eastern U.S.,” he says. “When the Arctic is warm, it’s the opposite relationship. A warmer Arctic favors colder temperatures in the eastern U.S. and heavier snowfall.” Read More

Monday, February 26, 2018

White Settlers Buried the Truth About the Midwest’s Mysterious Mound Cities

[Smithsonian] Around 1100 or 1200 A.D., the largest city north of Mexico was Cahokia, sitting in what is now southern Illinois, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Built around 1050 A.D. and occupied through 1400 A.D., Cahokia had a peak population of between 25,000 and 50,000 people. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cahokia was composed of three boroughs (Cahokia, East St. Louis, and St. Louis) connected to each other via waterways and walking trails that extended across the Mississippi River floodplain for some 20 square km. Its population consisted of agriculturalists who grew large amounts of maize, and craft specialists who made beautiful pots, shell jewelry, arrow-points, and flint clay figurines.
The city of Cahokia is one of many large earthen mound complexes that dot the landscapes of the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and across the Southeast. Despite the preponderance of archaeological evidence that these mound complexes were the work of sophisticated Native American civilizations, this rich history was obscured by the Myth of the Mound Builders, a narrative that arose ostensibly to explain the existence of the mounds. Examining both the history of Cahokia and the historic myths that were created to explain it reveals the troubling role that early archaeologists played in diminishing, or even eradicating, the achievements of pre-Columbian civilizations on the North American continent, just as the U.S. government was expanding westward by taking control of Native American lands.
Today it’s difficult to grasp the size and complexity of Cahokia, composed of about 190 mounds in platform, ridge-top, and circular shapes aligned to a planned city grid oriented five degrees east of north. This alignment, according to Tim Pauketat, professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, is tied to the summer solstice sunrise and the southern maximum moonrise, orientating Cahokia to the movement of both the sun and the moon. Neighborhood houses, causeways, plazas, and mounds were intentionally aligned to this city grid. Imagine yourself walking out from Cahokia’s downtown; on your journey you would encounter neighborhoods of rectangular, semi-subterranean houses, central hearth fires, storage pits, and smaller community plazas interspersed with ritual and public buildings. We know Cahokia’s population was diverse, with people moving to this city from across the midcontinent, likely speaking different dialects and bringing with them some of their old ways of life. Read More

Disturbing before-and-after images show what major US cities could look like in the year 2100

[Business Insider] The world's oceans levels are rising at faster and faster rates as waters warm and ice sheets melt.
Researchers, led by University of Colorado-Boulder professor Steve Nerem, looked at satellite data dating back to 1993 to track the rise of sea levels.
Their findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that sea levels aren't just rising — that rise has been accelerating over the last 25 years.
Even small increases can have devastating consequences, according to climate experts. If the worst climate-change predictions come true, coastal cities in the US will be devastated by flooding and greater exposure to storm surges by the year 2100.
Research group Climate Central has created a plug-in for Google Earth that illustrates how catastrophic an "extreme" sea-level rise scenario would be if the flooding happened today, based on projections in a 2017 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency.
You can install the plug-in (directions here) and see what might become of major US cities. Learn More

From drugged oysters to birds full of plastic, oceans are feeling the burden of pollution

[PBS] Traces of life on land are increasingly showing up in oceans and in ocean life. Scientists are finding a growing presence of pharmaceuticals, small pieces of plastic and household chemicals in the bodies of Pacific razor clams, Pacific oysters and remote seabirds.
Researchers from Portland State University and the University of Alaska Fairbanks are presenting some of their findings at the 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland.
KQED’s Brian Watt spoke with two of the presenting scientists prior to the Monday press conference: Elise Granek, professor at PSU and Veronica Padula, from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Watt: Dr. Granek, you and your students are looking for pollution from land, in sea life. What are you finding?
Granek: We are finding antibiotics, anti-fungal agents, and a chemical that’s used in detergents and counter cleaners and paints.
Watt: Is this popping up in all sea life? Or does it matter where the sea life is?
Granek: We are finding that for the pharmaceuticals, it does matter where they are. We see those compounds in oysters that we’ve transplanted to locations that are close to waste water treatment plant outfall pipes.
Watt: What about the household chemicals?
Granek: As for the surfactants that we’re finding, it doesn’t seem to matter as much where the oysters have been transplanted. They seem to be so wide spread because they’re used in industrial and household applications, again in cleaners, in paints.
Watt: Are levels of these chemicals high enough to harm humans, if we eat these animals?
Granek: That is a great question, and one that we really don’t know the answer to. For pharmaceuticals, there’s currently no federal guidelines in terms of what is a safe level of consumption, both for pharmaceuticals and for these surfactants. They are not regulated the way chemicals like lead or mercury are regulated, with set federal guidelines of safe levels.
Watt: Do you think what you found, applies to the California coast as well?
Granek: Yes. There has been some research in California, so we know that there are some pharmaceuticals, and some of these surfactants in animals in the ocean in California. In addition, because the California coast is much more developed and has a much higher human population, there’s likely much higher use of pharmaceuticals, and therefore higher levels of pharmaceuticals along the California coast. Read More

Seismic Activity In 'Ring Of Fire' Potentially Signals 'Big' Quake

[LABible] The 'Ring of Fire' has seen a lot of action over the past few weeks - earthquakes have hit Japan, Mexico and Taiwan with volcanoes in the region also going off.
The seismic activity has already led to deaths, and scientists have warned that it could mean one massive earthquake is on the way, the Mail Online has reported.
Researchers from California believe that the series of tremors around the Ring of Fire- a geologically active zone around the Pacific Ocean - could indicate that a big quake is due to hit soon.
The research, published in the journal Science Advances, looked at 101 major earthquakes around the Ring of Fire between 1990 and 2016 to reach its conclusion.
Thorne Lay, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, said: "Based on the clustering of earthquakes in space and time, the area that has just slipped is actually more likely to have another failure."
He added that despite the stress on one earthquake area reducing to below 'failure level', "the surrounding areas have been pushed towards failure in many cases, giving rise to aftershocks and the possibility of an adjacent large rupture sooner rather than later."
While places like Taiwan, Guam and Japan are quite far apart, the professor has suggested looking at earlier seismic events to see if small earthquakes were triggered as seismic waves went by.
Lay said that a 'cascade of failures' in the region could hint at a larger seismic event, although he stressed that it isn't clear yet.
"Until that type of analysis is done, causal connection between the events is very speculative," Lay said.
"Earthquakes are happening frequently in the Ring of Fire, and some apparent space-time clustering could arise from purely random (non-interacting) activity."
The academic study is a timely one. The Ring of Fire was struck repeatedly by earthquakes in the first two weeks of this month - following at least four natural disasters in the region in January.
17 people were killed and over 180 people injured after a 6.4 magnitude quake struck the east coast of Taiwan on 6 February. Read More

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Better Safe Than Sorry: Is Your Home Prepped for an Earthquake?

[Sunset] On the heels of last week's quake in Taiwan, fears of a tremor loom over many Americans, particularly on the fault-lined hot spots of the West Coast.
According to the California Earthquake Authority, homeowners are investing more than ever in earthquake insurance, with current coverage totaling over one million homes across the state.
The non-profit organization dedicated to earthquake safety says policy sales soared last year, especially following the devastating quakes in Mexico in September. That month, a record number of homeowners raced for coverage, with September's policy count exceeding twice that in previous months.
While there's unfortunately no true safeguard for disasters like earthquakes, authorities say preparedness is key. Taking simple steps to secure potential hazards in your home, like a wobby bookshelf; creating a disaster plan with loved ones and choosing a safe meeting spot; and making an emergency kit of nonperishable food, first-aid items, and other necessities are just three tips the CEA gives for earthquake readiness.
"Scientists say there's a greater than 99 percent chance of a magnitude-6.7 earthquake happening in California in the next 30 years," says California Earthquake Authority CEO Glenn Pomeroy. "Taking a little time to plan ahead means we'll be better able to survive and recover when disaster strikes."
Fifty years ago this evening, a magnitude 9.2 earthquake rumbled deep and long in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, severely damaging Anchorage and triggering a tsunami that killed more than 100 as it struck the coasts of Alaska, Oregon, and California. “The earthquake lasted approximately 4.5 minutes and is the most powerful recorded earthquake in U.S. history,” says the U.S. Geological Survey, which has compiled a 50th-anniversary retrospective of the Great Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami with seismic data and hundreds of photos.
In the Ring of Fire, it’s only a matter of time before the next big quake—and its potentially resulting tsunami waves. But there are steps you can take to prepare your family to survive the shaking and subsequent damage until help arrives.
Since you can’t predict where you’ll be when a quake hits, the San Francisco Fire Department’s Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) training program advises that you create a disaster and reunification plan—sketching out what you’ll do in an emergency and where you’ll meet up with family if you’re not at home together—plus 3 earthquake kits: One for your home, one to carry in your car, and one to leave at work. (Have kids? Work with their teachers to create school kits with food, water, a comfort item, a family photo, and a note from you.)
Your work and car “go kits” can often fit in a backpack and are intended to get you safely to your reunion spot—and have a backup site in case the first one is damaged or inaccessible. Include:
  • Sneakers
  • A change of clothes
  • Flashlight
  • Portable radio
  • First aid kit
  • Some money (in small bills)
  • Some food and water
Your main kit at home should contain a lot more food and water. Enough to last each member of your family—including pets—for 5 to 7 days, says NERT (not just 72 hours as the mantra of late has been). Take our fire kit—designed for one of the West’s other natural disasters—and augment it with food, water, and:
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Bleach or other water purification method
  • Warm clothes
  • Work boots and work gloves
  • Can opener and a few pots and pans
  • Dishes, cups, and utensils
  • Wrench for turning off water and gas (if there’s a leak)
  • Toilet paper, heavy-duty plastic bags, and duct tape (or store some of your kit in a small trash can that you can use as a “honey bucket”)
  • Soap and other hygiene items
  • Money (in small bills)
  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Copies of insurance coverage and out-of-state emergency contact’s phone number
  • Leash and pet carrier, plus pet photo in case you get separated
Store your kit in a big trash can or cooler on wheels near a ground-floor door or in your yard—or in a shed, so raccoons can’t break in and party with your supplies. Keep your camping gear nearby and you’ll have access to temporary shelter, sleeping bags, lanterns, and your gas camp stove. Read More

4 Vital Signs That Indicate That You Have A Past Life.

[GoodMenProject] Are you familiar with the concept of past life regression? If not, let us introduce you to this term. As per the practitioners, past life regression can be termed as a technique that makes use of hypnosis to recover the memories of past lives.
If you are perplexed about the term hypnosis, then it is a state of trance that is characterized by heightened imagination. Well, we have put forward an explanation about hypnosis for past life regression, but now a question might haunt your mind.
Do you have a past life and you will surely want an answer to this question?
The good news is that there are 4 evident signs that can help you identify whether you have a past life or not. Let us look at a few of them.
Have you ever had a Déjà vu moment in your life? Well, Déjà vu moment means that an event happening now has happened in the past as well. To make this concept clearer practitioners broke down the term Déjà vu into three categories.
  • Déjà visité: A place looks so familiar to you that you get the feeling that you have visited it in the past.
  • Deja vecu: An event happens that you have already lived through in the past.
  • Deja senti: A voice or music triggers a sentiment that you have experienced in the past.
Do you often have dreams and nightmares? If yes, then you might be having remembrances of a past life.
You might be a bit surprised to know that past lives can manifest themselves in the form of nightmares and dreams. There are times when some people appear regularly in your dreams. This is why there is a possibility that you might have had a relationship with those people in the past. Read More

Polar vortex defies climate change in the Southeast

[ScienMag] Overwhelming scientific evidence has demonstrated that our planet is getting warmer due to climate change, yet parts of the eastern U.S. are actually getting cooler. According to a Dartmouth-led study in Geophysical Research Letters, the location of this anomaly, known as the "U.S. warming hole," is a moving target.
During the winter and spring, the U.S. warming hole sits over the Southeast, as the polar vortex allows arctic air to plunge into the region. This has resulted in persistently cooler temperatures throughout the Southeast. After spring, the U.S. warming hole moves north and is located in the Midwest.
The study found that winter temperatures in the U.S. warming hole are associated with a wavier jet stream, which is linked to natural climate cycles over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and potentially to climate change. Previous research has illustrated that warming temperatures and melting Arctic sea ice set up conditions for a wavier jet stream. The study revealed that the jet stream over the U.S. became wavier in the late 1950's, coincident with the start of the warming hole. As such, since the late 1950's, the polar vortex has been cooling the southeastern U.S. during the winter. Read More

Monday, February 12, 2018

This Is What It Means To Be ‘Spiritual,’ Because It Isn’t Just Tarot Cards And Crystal Grids

[ThoughtCatalog]There’s something happening in the world today that everybody is seeing, but few people are registering to be as profound as it is.
We are no longer accepting institutions on the surface. We are no longer adhering to narrow prescriptions of how love, work and self should be. We are practicing meditation, yoga, eating well and discovering the importance of thinking clearly. We are utilizing tinctures and ancient healing modalities. We are honoring emotions and finding kindred spirits. We can sum up the core of it all in one line:

Instead of worshipping the good, we become the good.

That’s what spirituality is. 
It’s about not begging for grace, but being grace. It is not about earning mercy, but showing mercy. It is not about earning kindness, but embodying kindness. It is not about praising a creator, but becoming one.
Spirituality is what people want it to be, often pulling from different teachings and practices from around the world. But there are a few common beliefs: first, that life is about soul development. That what we experience is a mirror of what we are, and the objective is to become conscious of it so that we can change it. That we are energy fields, apart of one greater energy field, and that the whole of it is god (rather than a personified being).

It is knowing that you are a spiritual being having a temporary, human experience – not the other way around.

It is seeing relationships as assignments, and other people as teachers. It is taking full responsibility for what we create, and doing what we can in response to what we don’t.
It is boiling life down to some of the simplest facts there are: that everything is energy, and that matter cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed. It is honoring nature. It is acknowledging our roots. It is embracing psychology and philosophy and physiology and anything else that brings us into a clearer awareness of what we are and what we need. It is being present. It is becoming a witness to our thoughts and feelings – rather than a slave to them.
Spirituality is the willingness to control what we can – ourselves.
It is being able to say that nobody may know with absolute certainty why we are here or where we go after, what we do now is good enough. Spirituality identifies the pattern. It aligns the things that most religions have in common at their core. That we are here to be a force of good, and that doing so will free us. 
Sometimes, it means using tarot cards and crystal grids and other practices that make us feel connected to ourselves. But mostly, it’s about doing what resonates with love rather than what terrifies into obedience. 

7 Easy Ways Your Family can Help Mother Earth

We all have a collective responsibility to protect Mother Earth. While this can seem like an overwhelming task, I believe that even just one person can make a difference.

[Mothering] One year ago my husband (now a permaculture designer) introduced me to the concept of permaculture. For those unfamiliar, permaculture, or “permanent culture,”  is a sustainable technique to regenerate landscapes.  Permaculture encourages you to consider all of the different relationships within an environment and to arrange elements to work in harmony, thus requiring minimal maintenance.
Permaculture extends into all facets of life and offers tools that can transform your family and your community. The three core ethics that inform permaculture are care for the Earth, care for the people, and sharing resources.
We are doing our best to start making decisions based on these beliefs and are sharing what we learn with our son. Ideally, he will share these practices with his children and so on. No effort is too small.
Even if you don’t jump on the permaculture bandwagon, you and your family can absolutely make a measurable eco-friendly difference in this world. One person alone is capable of producing and throwing away over 185 pounds of plastic per year! Here’s another fact from a display at our local science center: A grocery store plastic bag takes 400-1,000 years to break down, yet the average time it is used by a person is only 12 minutes. Yikes! I admit to having used many, many of these bags without much thought.
If you are looking to make a difference with your family, read below for a few easy ways how.

1. Be Producers, Not Just Consumers.

As a nation, we love to consume. We use significantly more energy than we need to. By producing some food at home, you are helping to create your own local food web. Imagine the time, fuel, and energy savings if every house on your street had a different fruit tree that everyone could share? I challenge you to select even just one edible plant to grow this year.

2. Grow a Pollinator (or two or three).

Unfortunately, many of our pollinator habitats are being destroyed. Pollinators (such as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and bats) are declining in numbers, and 185 species of pollinators are considered threatened or extinct. Why is this a problem? These helpful organisms pollinate over 75% of crop plants grown across the world, approximately every three or four mouthfuls of food that we eat!
This is a very important lesson for our children and, my guess is, they will be happy to dig around in the dirt to plant something special for their pollinator friends. Contact your local Cooperative Extension to determine which native pollinator species are appropriate to plant in your area.

3. Bring Your Own.

I recently put together a “Bring Your Own” tool-kit that I keep in my backpack with me at all times. The contents of this kit include a knitted coffee cup sleeve, real silverware, a glass straw and a cloth bag for purchases or produce.
The straw (which is a must for me) was added to my tool-kit after learning our nation uses over 500 million straws per year. These straws are usually not recycled and are unfortunate dangers for our aquatic friends too.  My favorite is Hummingbird Straws, which are pretty to look at, and practical. The glass design allows for easy cleaning since you can see what is on the inside! Read More

How the U.S. Drought Monitor Assists Ranchers and Federal Agencies Manage Drought Impacts

(This article is worth reading for the series of maps. Check it out. - Lori)
[WeatherNation] Ranching depends on healthy pastures and rangelands, and drought can have a devastating effect on the quality and quantity of livestock food supplies. Ranchers look to environmental data for insights about the condition of their land and whether it can support their herds.
As the world’s largest producer of domestic and exported beef, U.S. cattle ranchers use the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) maps and comparisons to make timely, critical decisions that can directly affect the success of their operations. The Drought Monitor is also used by agencies to declare drought disasters and provide assistance to ranchers and farmers.
Drought is the second costliest weather disaster in the United States, according to NCEI’s Billion Dollar Disasters calculations. However, unlike hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, which can create immediate and visible damage, drought develops quietly and slowly, often without apparent impacts until water shortages become severe and crops wither. Livestock producers monitor drought to understand the severity of current conditions and to gauge how the drought may evolve or when it may end. This provides them with critical environmental information that allows them to manage risk.
“When we first started, our priorities were production of the livestock,” says Jim Faulstich, a cattle rancher in Highmore, South Dakota. Rather than solely focusing on cattle production, his ranch gives greater attention to managing the land. “We soon learned that (cattle) shouldn’t be where our top priority is. We switched to natural resources.”
As drought reduces the quality of pasture lands, ranchers may have to consider purchasing additional feed for their animals. Timing purchases is important if feed prices rise due to higher demand and dwindling supplies. If drought is particularly extreme or long-lasting and feed becomes too expensive, ranchers may have to reduce their herds.
Having an easily accessible tool to monitor drought in near-real time is important to a range of additional stakeholders besides ranchers; its value extends to livestock prospectors and traders, landowners who lease grazing land, livestock associations, and federal and state agencies that administer drought-relief programs or that manage federally owned land. Overall, the U.S. livestock industry generates more than $100 billion in annual revenues. Read More

The Magnetic Field Is Shifting. The Poles May Flip. This Could Get Bad.

[Undark] One day in 1905, the French geophysicist Bernard Brunhes brought back to his lab some rocks he’d unearthed from a freshly cut road near the village of Pont Farin. When he analyzed their magnetic properties, he was astonished at what they showed: Millions of years ago, the Earth’s magnetic poles had been on the opposite sides of the planet. North was south and south was north. The discovery spoke of planetary anarchy. Scientists had no way to explain it.
Today, we know that the poles have changed places hundreds of times, most recently 780,000 years ago. (Sometimes, the poles try to reverse positions but then snap back into place, in what is called an excursion. The last time was about 40,000 years ago.) We also know that when they flip next time, the consequences for the electrical and electronic infrastructure that runs modern civilization will be dire. The question is when that will happen. 
In the past few decades, geophysicists have tried to answer that question through satellite imagery and math. They have figured out how to peer deep inside the Earth, to the edge of the molten, metallic core where the magnetic field is continually being generated. It turns out that the dipole — the orderly two-pole magnetic field our compasses respond to — is under attack from within.
The latest satellite data, from the European Space Agency’s Swarm trio, which began reporting in 2014, show that a battle is raging at the edge of the core. Like factions planning a coup, swirling clusters of molten iron and nickel are gathering strength and draining energy from the dipole. The north magnetic pole is on the run, a sign of enhanced turbulence and unpredictability. A cabal in the Southern Hemisphere has already gained the upper hand over about a fifth of the Earth’s surface. A revolution is shaping up.
If these magnetic blocs gain enough strength and weaken the dipole even more, they will force the north and south poles to switch places as they strive to regain supremacy. Scientists can’t say for sure that is happening now — the dipole could beat back the interlopers. But they can say that the phenomenon is intensifying and that they can’t rule out the possibility that a reversal is beginning.. It’s time to wake up to the dangers and start preparing. Read More

These children suffered for months after extreme weather wrecked their town in Peru

[PRI] Flor Bautista and her 3-year-old daughter, Camila, share a sad and vacant stare as they emerge from their taut white tent early in the morning. Camila cried much of the night, neither slept well. Bautista said her youngest child has been sick ever since their northern Peruvian town of Piura flooded in March of 2017.
“When the water came we were here in our little huts,” Bautista said. “The water came quickly and flooded everything.”
The rising waters took everyone in her town by surprise that early March morning. They’d been suffering through a long drought in Piura. Then suddenly came torrential downpours, which led to the river breaching and a massive flood. It was a weather swing like no one there had ever experienced before.
“We had to escape to the mountains and it was there the children got sick,” Bautista said. “They lost weight and became malnourished because they weren’t eating like they should be.” There was no fresh produce for months, and Bautista said all she could give her children was what was handed out by charities and the local government — rice, pasta and canned tuna. Bautista said this limited diet really impacted her younger children’s health.
There were also problems with access to clean water. Three-year-old Camila got diarrhea that never let up, but there were no doctors to see. And when she was finally able to take Camilla to a medical clinic, there was no medicine.
Kids are often hardest hit by extreme weather events, and climate change is contributing to an increase in some kinds of extreme weather around the world. As the weather changes, and in some cases becomes more extreme, different communities of people are feeling the impact. Here in this tiny coastal Peruvian village — which looks like a refugee camp — babies and toddlers have been hit hard. Read More

4 Earthquakes Hit Same Area in Taiwan

[Epoch Times] A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Taiwan on Sunday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The quake hit at a depth of around 7.8 kilometers (4.8 miles) the agency said.
The tremor hit about 10 miles north-northeast of Hua-lien, the agency said.
There were no immediate reports of damage.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that three other quakes hit in the area minutes later, measuring 5.3, 5.5, and 5.2.
This comes after several major earthquakes struck along the Pacific “Ring of Fire” in recent months. The expansive area is known for earthquakes and a number of active volcanoes. Taiwan is located in the “Ring of Fire.”
The “Ring of Fire” is located within the basin of the Pacific Ocean, lined with around 75 percent of the world’s total active volcanoes.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions strike Alaska, Japan and the Philippines

[PBS] A series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have hit the Pacific Rim.
Tuesday morning in the Gulf of Alaska, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake near Kodiak set off early tsunami warnings that extended across the southern coast of the state and into British Columbia. A volcano in a Japanese ski town erupted, killing one soldier and injuring at least a dozen others, according to the Washington Post. Monday afternoon, Mount Mayon, a volcano in the Philippines that has been rumbling since last week, gushed lava and ash, forcing mass evacuations.
The Alaskan earthquake struck around 12:30 a.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, approximately 180 miles southeast of Kodiak Island. Seismologists classified this event as a strike-slip earthquake, which is typically caused when two tectonic plates slide side by side. But the Kodiak earthquake was a rare intraplate earthquake — meaning all the action occurred within a single tectonic plate.
In general, strike-slip earthquakes present less of a tsunami risk. Three hours on, the National Weather Service measured less than a foot of tsunami at the Kodiak Island town of Old Harbor and had cancelled the tsunami warnings for most of Alaska and the West Coast. No immediate damages were reported.
Mount Kusatsu-Shirane is a 7,000 foot volcano located about 120 miles north of Tokyo. It erupted around 10 a.m. local time, triggering avalanches that trapped about a dozen skiers, including six members of Japan’s Ground Self Defense Force. All were rescued, according to Reuters, but one soldier died later. The Washington Post reported four others were injured by falling debris. 
Approximately 56,000 people sought shelter at evacuation camps on Tuesday, about half a day after Mount Mayon erupted multiples times overnight. The first evacuations had begun Jan. 13, after the 8,000-foot volcano produced a mile-and-half high plume of ash that coated nearby towns. Philippines officials have allocated about $100,000 to the disaster effort, but warned if the eruption continue into mid-February, then food, medical and water supplies may be depleted. Reuters reported that the ashfall diverted flights.
A 6.0 magnitude earthquake also struck 100 miles off the coast of Jakarta on Tuesday afternoon, damaging buildings and causing about a half dozen injuries at a schoolSee More