Tuesday, August 25, 2015

More Canaries

My guess is only the willfully ignorant, the profoundly stupid, and the ideologically blind do not realize the environmental peril we are experiencing, one primarily but not exclusively driven by climate change. Monster storms, massive wildfires and record droughts are just three of the more obvious symptoms of a critically ill planet. But it is not hard, if we look just a little beyond melodramatic headlines and visuals, to see that the problem is leaving no ecosystem unscathed. The world's oceans are one such ecosystem, as rising temperatures are wreaking largely unseen havoc.

The latest evidence of earth's fever is the death of 30 whales in the Gulf of Alaska:
Since May 2015, 14 fin whales, 11 humpback whales, one gray whale and four unidentified specimens have been found dead along shorelines in the Gulf of Alaska, nearly half of them in the Kodiak Archipelago. Other dead whales have been reported off the coast of British Columbia, including four humpbacks and one sperm whale.
Labelling it an “unusual mortality event,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the deaths are three times the average for the region, and the fact that little or no trauma has thus far been found on the whales has led to speculation that they are the victims of rising ocean temperatures and a very toxic and extensive consequent algal blooms:
Over the past two years, a large mass of warm water that climatologists have dubbed “the blob” has persisted in the north Pacific, and El Niño 2015 is pushing more warm water into the region.

The unusually warm and calm seas are believed to be behind a series of toxin-producing algae blooms – record-breaking in size and duration – stretching from southern California to the Aleutian Islands. Clams sampled near the town of Sand Point, Alaska were found to have toxin levels more than 80 times what the FDA says is safe for human consumption, said Bruce Wright, a scientist who studies toxic algal blooms for the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands Association. The levels were ten times anything Wright had previously recorded.
All of this suggests we are bearing witness to yet another canary in the coalmine, one of many that all of our major political leaders and a majority of the population will almost certainly continue to ignore.


8 comments:

  1. The evidence is all around us, Lorne. Only the willfully blind refuse to see.

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    1. And the time is growing very late, Owen.

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  2. Lorne, evidence is all around us as Owen Gray pointed out. We are on a path of self-destruction. Every day tuns of CO2 is released and ongoing self-destruction continues. Our so-called leaders are making sure that less the public knows better it is. These ' great leaders' emphasize the employment creating agenda.

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    1. That is why those 'great leaders' are such manifest failures, LD.

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  3. I'm not convinced, Lorne, that they're willfully blind. That is to merely accuse them of negligence. I think they see this all to well and opt to not intervene because they know what that would mean to their entire neoliberal construct. There's nothing inadvertent in their inaction. They know what they're doing. They fully understand the logical and foreseeable consequences of their acts. On that standard their culpability is well within the realm of criminal.

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    1. Point well-taken, Mound. If only there were a way of holding them to account. Perhaps we can learn something from the Dutch: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/24/dutch-government-ordered-cut-carbon-emissions-landmark-ruling

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  4. According to some scientists we are already too far gone to save the planet. Even if every single industrial process shuts down today we have gone too far. Over 50 tipping points have been passed with no turning back.

    Please read Guy Mcpherson's summary of climate change and weep.

    http://guymcpherson.com/2014/01/climate-change-summary-and-update/

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    1. Thank you for the link, David. I did a quick scan of it just now, and will read it in detail later. It appears to make for some grim reading indeed.

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