Tag Archives: amphibians

Friday Linkage 5/18/2018

I had contemplated making this a special “Scott Pruitt Destroys the World” edition of Friday Linkage, but thought better of it when I realized that might just depress people even more.

The question I have now that the primaries for the 2018 mid-terms are mostly done is how can Republicans defend their record?  Seriously, on what issue is the country a better place unless you are really rich?  If I am Democrat running for Congress I am hammering home that point over and over again.

On to the links…

EPA Hides Scott Pruitt’s Appearance at Mining Industry Group Meeting—I am beginning to think that Trump keeps Pruitt around because he is the only person who is in the headlines for bad stuff more than him and Trump does not care about the environment anyway.  So what is the loss?

EPA Hid Scott Pruitt’s Dinner With Climate Denier Accused Of Child Sex Abuse—How many more times are we going to have to read articles that start with “EPA hid Scott Pruitt’s…”?

Letters Reveal how Pruitt Hired an Unqualified Lobbyist to Head one of EPA’s Most Important Offices—But, what about the job creators?

Pruitt’s EPA Apparently Blocked ‘Nightmare’ Study About Water Contamination—And the hits just keep on coming.

Sulfur Dioxide Damages Lungs, and Scott Pruitt Is Letting More of It in Our Air—It does not matter how bad this schmuck behaves because he is doing the bidding of the people who are lining the Trump administration’s pockets.

Minnesota’s Top Health, Environment Officials Blast EPA Science Rule—“The proposed rule was clearly designed to undermine and disparage the important epidemiological studies that support public health protection from all pollutants, be they in the air, water, or soil.”  Well there is that.

GOP Senators Want to Exempt Giant Solar Farm Panels From Tariffs—Another genius Trump move that even the hard liners in his own party do not like for various reasons.

How to Save the Failing Nuclear Power Plants that Generate Half of America’s Clean Electricity—Natural gas is not the bridge to a clean energy future, nuclear power is the bridge.  We need to figure out a way—zero emissions credits (ZECs) just might be the ticket—to keep the existing fleet of nuclear plants in operation until rapidly deploying renewables can truly replace carbon spewing fossil fuels.

The Scientist still Fighting for the Clean Fuel the World Forgot—In an era of cheap gas—although the price is going up as I type—we have forgotten the fervor over second generation biofuels that seemed to grip the nation during the presidency of George W. Bush.  There are still some people out there trying to figure out a way to make these biofuels economical.

California will Require Solar Panels on all New Homes. That’s not Necessarily a Good Thing.—It might be better to take a more integrated approach to deploying renewables, but I do not want to argue with more solar.

California is Turning Farms into Carbon-Sucking Factories—The soil might be able to save us.

A Revolution in Hydropower makes Waves in Rural Colorado—What is great about this concept is that it is using existing manmade infrastructure to generate clean power.  No one is damning rivers or streams.

Ground Zero of Amphibian ‘Apocalypse’ Finally Found—Amphibians have been dying at spectacular rates for decades now and a source of this massacre may finally have been found.

This is the Worst Way to Become Vegetarian—This is the first time I have heard anything about the Lone Star tick or the possibility that it spreads an allergy to certain types of meat.  Is this the harbinger of our climate change dystopia?

Democracy Dies in Materialism and the U.S. is at Risk—I do not agree with everything that the author of this opinion piece said, but I do agree with the general premise that our society’s current focus on material wealth as a marker of success or fulfillment is dangerous.

Your Stoke Won’t Save Us—What if we are part of the problem and not part of the solution?

You Must Read—The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

Any event that has occurred just five times since the first animal with a backbone appeared, some five hundred million years ago, must qualify as exceedingly rare. The notion that a sixth such event would be taking place right now, more or less in front of our eyes, struck me as, to use the technical term, mind-boggling. [Page 7]

The extinction of a species is an extraordinary event—think about a child learning that the dodo was essentially wiped off the face of the Earth by human behavior—yet there is a cycle where mass numbers of extinction events occur. For all intents and purposes, the evidence points us to a conclusion that human beings are about to witness a mass extinction of species.

9781250062185Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History is the most accessible book that I have ever read dealing with the science behind the extinction of species. Generally, books on this topic are dense academic or scientific works that quickly bore and confuse the general public with detail that is not of interest to the general public. Making scientific knowledge accessible to even an educated general public is no small feat and should be considered a success in and of itself. Furthermore, Kolbert weaves a rapid paced tale that engrosses the reader with both the amazing variety of natural life on the planet and the very precarious nature of so much of that life.

The story is quite simple. Humans are the weediest species on the face of the planet. As a species we inhabit all forms of habitats and manipulate those habitats to suit our preferences. Furthermore, through industrial development and behavior we have begun to fundamentally alter the chemistry of the entire biosphere. The end result is that as the conditions around the planet change a great number of species will be unable to adapt or move leading to their extinction. All that will remain will be the weeds of the plant and animal worlds.

How many species will go extinct? We do not know because “Yet another possible explanation for why observations don’t match predictions is that humans aren’t very observant.” [Page 187] We do not even know how many species exist at this moment in time, so if something is lost that was never discovered how will we account for its loss? The answer is that we will not and the world will be a less amazing place.

What frightens me the most in reading this book and others on climate change’s impacts is that we have no idea how forthcoming changes will impact the livability of the planet. It’s one thing to talk about aggregate temperature increase or species going extinct or sea levels rising, but it is another thing entirely to imagine the collapse of entire ecosystems because the connections between species are lost. The web of life seemed like such an easy concept to grasp when you are a middle school student in your first real biology class. It seems like a scary ass concept now that you are an adult staring at human derived climate change that is messing up the basic operating rules for the entire Earth.

I do not know if it is all doom and gloom. I would like to think that for the sake of my small children the world will not be such a grim place by the time they reach adulthood with children of their own. I just seem to lose hope the more that I learn.