CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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Another cold and bitter splash of reality on Obama’s environmental supporters. Quite the story by Michael Kranish for the Boston Globe.

nprglobalhealth:

How Do You Catch Ebola: By Air, Sweat Or Water?

There’s no question Ebola is one of the most terrifying diseases out there. It causes a painful death, typically kills more than 50 percent of those infected and essentially has no cure.

But if you compare how contagious the Ebola virus is to, say SARS or the measles, Ebola just doesn’t stack up. In fact, the virus is harder to catch than the common cold.

That’s because there has been no evidence that Ebola spreads between people through the air. Health experts repeatedly emphasize that human-to-human transmission requires direct contact with infected bodily fluids, including blood, vomit and feces.

And to infect, those fluids have to reach a break in the skin or the mucous membranes found around your eyes, mouth and nose.

But that hasn’t stopped two-thirds of Americans from thinking that the virus spreads “easily,” a poll from Harvard School of Public Health found in August. Almost 40 percent of the 1,025 people surveyed said they worry about an Ebola epidemic in the U.S. More than a quarter were concerned about catching the virus themselves.

Many questions still linger. Is Ebola really not airborne? Can it spread through contaminated water? What about through a drop of blood left behind on a table?

So we took those questions to two virologists: Alan Schmaljohn at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Jean-Paul Gonzalez at Metabiota, a company that tracks global infectious diseases.

Continue reading.

Photo: A burial team in Barkedu, Liberia, buries their protective clothing alongside the body of an Ebola victim. It’s possible to catch the virus from clothing soiled by infected blood or other bodily fluids. (Tommy Trenchard for NPR)

Good reporting by NPR, clearing up how Ebola is transmitted (answer: with great difficulty).

Remember this invention? 19 year-old student proposed this design to clean up plastics in the oceans. The idea was picked up by TED, and green blogs exploded with glee.

I criticized the project as ineffective buffoonery and likely illegal. And several others also panned the invention as foolish and naive. Well, now the student is back with a revised version of the plastic’s clean up machine. He’s partnered with some serious engineers and PR and he formed a new company, “The Ocean Cleanup.” Video here.

A science journalist in Germany, Sarah Zierul, interviewed me and a few other experts who also criticized the machine. Sarah’s article really got to the heart of the story and you can see researched for several months to get to the facts. She re-tells the story of the young inventor, and describes the original machine and its problems, as well as the new machine and the engineering behind it. She also interviews several critics, noting how their complaints have evolved into support.

Excellent science reporting!

Read Sarah’s excellent article, here. If you don’t read German, go here.

Massive toxic spill in British Columbia pollutes streams and lakes. The Mount Polley Mine mines copper and gold. These mines require massive amounts of toxic acids to “eat” the rocks that contain the copper and gold. The waste is “contained” in a big retention pond (in this case a huge lake). The ponds just sit there with no plans for clean up. Humans are banned from the ponds. Governments say they are safe (despite that ponds fail on average of 30%).

Millions of tons of harmful metals, soils, and wastewater spilled into pristine habitat. Canada’s response? Whooppsy! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Above images: NASA and CBC.

An earthen dam at Mount Polley Mine in British Columbia breached on August 4, 2014, sending contaminated water surging into nearby lakes. Wastewater and metal-laden sand spilled from a retention basin and triggered a water-use ban in Likely, British Columbia, and other nearby towns. Local authorities had lifted the ban as of August 12.

On August 5, nearly all of the wastewater in the retention basin had drained, exposing the silty bottom. Hazeltine Creek, normally about 1 meter (3 feet) wide, swelled to a width of 150 meters (490 feet) as a result of the spill. In the aftermath of the flood, a layer of brown sediment coated forests and stream valleys affected by the spill. Notice how much forest immediately north of the retention basin was leveled. Debris, mainly downed trees, are visible floating on Quesnel Lake.

Video:

Several excellent Canadian, environmental, and political tumblrs are covering the spill: https://www.tumblr.com/search/mount+polley+mine.

"On the Media" produces a serious, weekly program covering all things media. They’re among my top favorite sources of news-sobriety. Here’s an example from July 6:

“Climate Change” vs. “Global Warming”

[Obama’s new] proposal could bring renewed worldwide attention to climate change. Trouble is, we still haven’t sorted out how to talk about the issue. Is it “Climate Change” or “Global Warming”? Bob speaks to Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, and the principal investigator of the new study, “What’s In a Name? Global Warming Versus Climate Change.”

Follow ‘On The Media’ if you can!

pulitzercenter:

image

When it comes to the global environment, it is difficult to overstate Peru’s importance. Its Amazon jungles are deemed among the most biodiverse on earth in terms of tree, plant, animal and bird species. It also has the world’s fourth-largest store of tropical forests, behind only neighboring…

Interesting anti-LEGO campaign. Yes, anti-LEGO. Weelllll, actually, it’s a campaign to tell LEGO to end it’s relationship with Shell Oil. Check it out:

Children’s imaginations are an unspoilt wilderness. Help us stop Shell polluting them by telling LEGO to stop selling Shell-branded bricks and kits today. Sign our petition calling on LEGO to end its partnership with Shell to Save the Arctic at: http://www.legoblockshell.org/?ytv1

Site is overwhelmed right now, but keep refreshing.

atlurbanist:

Secret formula for a boost in cycling: infrastructure + a crappy drive

After reading this post about a sudden cycling surge in Copenhagen, I think Atlanta has a great chance at getting a boost in cycling activity. Why? Because it turns out that the formula for getting that boost = great cycling infrastructure + being a really crappy place to drive. 

We’ve already got one of those down pat! Now we just need to add the cycling infrastructure. Seriously, if we had an extensive network of protected bike lanes in Atlanta, it’s a cinch that masses of in-towners would gladly get out of the car traffic and start pedaling. 

AND SPEAK OF THE DEVIL…

The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition points on on their website that we actually have a good opportunity in Atlanta right now to help “add up to 100 miles of comfortable and connected bikeways in Atlanta.” All we need is to get the city to devote 15% of a proposed $250 million infrastructure bond toward the construction of new bike lanes. 

ABC asks that you attend one of the following meetings on the bond to let your voice be heard:

  • July 8 from 6-8 pm: Atlanta City Hall Auditorium (Old Council Chambers) 68 Mitchell Street 
  • July 15 from 6-8 pm: Charles R Drew Charter School in East Lake/Kirkwood
  • July 16 from 6-8 pm: 1705 Commerce Drive Atlanta, GA 30314

Read more about it on the ABC website.

Photo of Atlanta cyclist from Tumbr user naoyawada

Signal boost. Do you live in Atlanta? Pass the word please. Thanks, m

Journalists with the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) ordered to reflect consensus/majority view of the scientific community. This means climate deniers and other non-qualified persons will not be given airtime.

Often, science content is presented as an issue having “two-sides.” This works when science is unclear (such as the benefits/risks of drinking coffee, or when journalists present the latest super-diet food craze). But, when the majority of scientists agree on a matter, such as climate change (97%), the BBC will no longer present “the other side” on equal grounds.

whitehouse:

The President is answering your questions tomorrow, and it will be awesome. Tune in Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET on whitehouse.tumblr.com.

You know, if you’re hip to all these things.

Tuesday, 4pm est!

Dangerous derecho, a powerful type of rain storm, knocked out power for hundreds of thousands in the mid-west. Storm is over Chicago now. The Vane reports hundreds of thousands lost power, but I cannot confirm this.

President Nixon’s energy crises address to the nation in 1973. It was very aggressive by today’s standards.

Nixon:

  • Reduced availability to gasoline by 15% (e.g., he rationed gas)
  • Built new oil pipelines
  • Cut access to home heating oil
  • Asked Americans to reduce driving two days per week
  • Asked Americans to turn down the their thermostats by 6 degrees
  • Ordered cities to turn off street lights
  • Reduced speed limit for trucks to 55MPH

Imagine if Obama ordered the nation to do this today??

The legislature also finds that it is time to ensure that Hawaii adapts to the effects of climate change before they grow beyond our ability to prevent the worst impacts on our economy, environment, and way of life.
Hawaii Climate Adaptation Initiative Act, a rare science-based bill signed into law that creates an adaptation response system. Hawaii is vulnerable to sea-level rise, coral bleaching and fishery collapse, erosion, storms, and even drought in some areas. The language in the bill makes plain that the adaptation actions required to implement the programs must be based on sound climate science. Great day for Hawaii!