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 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 12:42:15 PM EST
Fukushima reactor readings raise reheating concern | World news | The Guardian

Concern is growing that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan is no longer stable after temperature readings suggested one of its damaged reactors was reheating.

The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said the temperature inside No 2 reactor - one of three that suffered meltdown after last year's earthquake and tsunami - may have reached 82C on Sunday.

Tepco said there was no evidence that the melted fuel inside had reached criticality. The utility reportedly increased the amount of cooling water being injected into the reactor along with a boric acid solution, which is used to prevent the fuel from undergoing sustained nuclear reactions.

Confirmation that the temperature has risen above 80C could force the government to reverse its declaration two months ago that the crippled plant was in a safe state known as cold shutdown.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 01:14:05 PM EST
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Tepco said it did not know the cause of the apparent temperature rise, but speculated that it might be due to problems with the supply of coolant or a faulty thermometer.

Another day passes, and they are less sure about faulty thermometers... An NHK article quoted here (but now not accessible) was much clearer.

Meanwhile: Nuke dangers nowhere near resolved: [ex-premier] Kan's crisis adviser

by das monde on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 10:32:31 AM EST
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Ocean microbe communities changing, but long-term environmental impact is unclear

ScienceDaily (Feb. 9, 2012) -- As oceans warm due to climate change, water layers will mix less and affect the microbes and plankton that pump carbon out of the atmosphere -- but researchers say it's still unclear whether these processes will further increase global warming or decrease it.

The forces at work are enormous and the stakes huge, said Oregon State University scientists in an article published February 10 in the journal Science. But inadequate ocean monitoring and lack of agreement on how to assess microbial diversity has made it difficult to reach a consensus on what the future may hold, they said.

"We're just beginning to understand microbial diversity in the oceans and what that may mean to the environment," said Stephen Giovannoni, an OSU professor of microbiology. "However, a large portion of the carbon emitted from human activities ends up in the oceans, which with both their mass of water and biological processes act as a huge buffer against climate change. These are extremely important issues."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 01:33:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Farmers May Have Kicked Off Local Climate Change 3,500 Years Ago | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

Humans may have been causing climate change for much longer than we've been burning fossil fuels. In fact, the agrarian revolution may have started human-induced climate changes long before the industrial revolution began to sully the skies. How? Through the clearing of forests, which still remains the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.

Sediment cores from the mouth of the Congo River--the deepest river in the world--suggest that humans may have played a significant role in changing the landscapes of Central Africa. That river curves through the world's second-biggest lingering tropical forest, but it and its tributaries also flow through the savannas so prized by modern-day safaris.

Scientists had previously thought that a climate shift from warm and humid to seasonally cooler and drier had helped create those savannas, which covered even more of Central Africa in the past. But the 40,000-year-old record preserved in the sediment cores tells a different story. Roughly 3,500 years ago the Congo River suddenly began dumping a lot more muck without any appreciable increase in rainfall to explain such weathering. One plausible explanation is the simultaneous arrival of the so-called Bantu people, who brought farming into the region.

They cultivated oil palm, pearl millet and yams, crops that need plenty of sunlight, which, of course, necessitated clearing forests. They also cut down trees for charcoal and as fuel for the fires of iron-smelting, which enabled them to make tools and weapons. Coupled with climate change, the result was savannas--and mutually reinforcing climate change.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 01:33:51 PM EST
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So it's not Exxon's (and every other modern carbon burner's) fault, it's those damned Bantu 35 hundred years ago. An interesting, but nonproductive, development in PR: we're moving from 'it's a hoax' to 'it's not our fault'.
by Andhakari on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 12:58:17 AM EST
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This type of research is often comfortably accepted by climate skeptics: You see, Buntu farmers were changing climate millennia ago. So don't worry about whole Africa and the whole industrial world compulsively spewing unprecedented amounts of CO2 day and night.
by das monde on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 01:16:10 AM EST
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it's scientific enquiry.

I take the opposite tack : we broke the climate, we own it. Any "climate skeptic" who accepts this type of research has taken a major step towards ownership of the problem. Yes, even slash-and-burn agriculture has a measurable effect on the climate. Now, what about my hummer?

See my thread from last year, The Anthropocene controversy.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 07:26:22 AM EST
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In addition to the previous comments, the article already underlines it's not even that clear-cut:

Farmers May Have Kicked Off Local Climate Change 3,500 Years Ago | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

At the same time, the presence of crops such as millet and yams suggests that climate had already changed given that they require alternating seasons of wet and dry. So it remains unclear whether changing climate conditions created the savannas that made Bantu-style farming possible or if Bantu-style farming created the conditions for savannas and changed the climate. What is clear is that "the environmental impact of human population in the central African rainforest was already significant about 2,500 years ago," as the researchers write in the paper presenting their findings published online in Science on February 9.

It's the chicken and the egg question - the climate was already changing, which  allowed human population to start a living in new regions - affecting the region further.

That the environment was changed under the influence of human impacts, there is little doubt.

But the key-point: it remains unclear, certainly from this research, to what extent human activities were the actual cause of changing temperatures.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 08:20:14 AM EST
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Nomad:
But the key-point: it remains unclear, certainly from this research, to what extent human activities were the actual cause of changing temperatures.

It's still unclear, but the evidence is mounting. It ties in with similar research from Asia. It's getting the carbon balance to add up that is the most challenging.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 10:56:30 AM EST
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And this is why we can't have anything nice.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 08:22:59 AM EST
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Evangelical group holds firm on `pro-life' link to EPA rule - The Hill's E2-Wire

A green evangelical group won't bow to conservative anti-abortion-rights leaders or Republicans who are pressuring them to stop casting support for new EPA pollution rules as a "pro-life" position.

The Environmental Evangelical Network (EEN) is under attack from the religious right over its campaign in favor of EPA's new restrictions on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants -- rules the EEN calls vital to protecting the health of the unborn.

Alexei Laushkin, an EEN spokesman, said in an interview Thursday that the group won't back off the way it frames support for the rules issued late last year.

"We believe protecting the unborn from mercury poisoning is a consistent pro-life position," he said. "An issue that impacts the unborn - that's where we resonate as a pro-life organization."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 01:45:46 PM EST
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If Santorum, or similar nutcase, were to be elected Americans would probably be able to use DDT, lead-based paints, and leaded gasoline again. I'd love to see that political ad.
by Andhakari on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 01:03:32 AM EST
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and the one with the founding fathers expounding on the virtues of incandescent light bulbs...

and growing 'tea' for partying.

"I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned." - Richard Feynman

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 07:25:21 AM EST
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