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What The ‘sixth Extinction’ Will Look Like In The Oceans: The Largest Species Die Off First


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What The ‘sixth Extinction’ Will Look Like In The Oceans: The Largest Species Die Off First
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 12:33 pm

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What the ‘sixth extinction’ will look like in the oceans: The largest species die off first

We mostly can’t see it around us, and too few of us seem to care — but nonetheless, scientists are increasingly convinced that the world is barreling towards what has been called a “sixth mass extinction” event. Simply put, species are going extinct at a rate that far exceeds what you would expect to see naturally, as a result of a major perturbation to the system.

In this case, the perturbation is us, rather than, say, an asteroid. As such, you might expect to see some patterns to extinctions that reflect our particular way of causing ecological destruction. And indeed, a new study published Wednesday in Science magazine confirms this. For the world’s oceans, it finds, threats of extinction aren’t apportioned equally among all species — rather, the larger ones, in terms of body size and mass, are uniquely imperiled right now.

From sharks to whales, giant clams, sea turtles, and tuna, the disproportionate threat to larger marine organisms reflects the “unique human propensity to cull the largest members of a population,” the authors write.

“What to us was surprising was that we did not see a similar kind of pattern in any of the previous mass extinction events that we studied,” said geoscientist Jonathan Payne of Stanford University, the study’s lead author. “So that indicated that there really is no good ecological analogue…this pattern has not happened before in the half billion years of the animal fossil record.”

The researchers conducted the work through a statistical analysis of a 2,497 different marine animal groups at one taxonomic level higher than the level of species — called “genera.” And they found that increases in an organism’s body size were strongly linked to an increased risk of extinction in the present period — but that this was not the case in the Earth’s distant past.

Indeed, during the past 66 million years, there was actually a small link between smaller body sizes and going extinct, marking the present as a strong reversal. “The extreme bias against large-bodied animals distinguishes the modern diversity crisis from all potential deep-time analogs,” the researchers write.

The study also notes that on land, we’ve already seen the same pattern — and in fact, we saw it first. “Human hunting has been extensive for many thousands of years on land, whereas it’s been extensive for a couple of hundred years in the oceans,” says Payne.

Thus, humans already drove to extinction many land-based large animal species in what has been dubbed the Late Quaternary extinction event as the most recent ice age came to a close..

“These losses in the ocean are paralleling what humans did to land animals some 50,000 to 10,000 years ago, when we wiped out around half of the big-bodied mammal species on Earth, like mammoths, mastodons, saber-tooth cats and the like,” said Anthony Barnosky, executive director of Stanford Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, who was not involved in the study but reviewed it for the Post. “As a result, terrestrial ecosystems were locked into a new trajectory that included local biodiversity loss over and above the loss of the large animals themselves, and changes in which kinds of plants dominated.”

Barnosky was the co-author of a study published last year that found an “exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way.”

A particular problem, says Payne, is that if you take out all the top predators, then the species they used to prey upon can run amok and explode in population, having large reverberating effects on the entire ecosystem.

“The preferential removal of the largest animals from the modern oceans, unprecedented in the history of animal life, may disrupt ecosystems for millions of years even at levels of taxonomic loss far below those of previous mass extinctions,” the authors write.


Continued
http://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/what-the-%e2%80%98sixth-extinction%e 2%80%99-will-look-like-in-the-oceans-the-largest-species-die-off-first/ar-BBwa67 k?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=iehp

Human actions against the biggest threat to the planet, killing off large fish and mammals.

Climate Change second:

Quote:
Interestingly, if climate change was the key driver of species losses, you’d expect a more evenly distributed set of risks to organisms.

“I’ve worked on the Permian mass extinction quite a bit, it shows environmental evidence of ocean warming, ocean acidification, and deoxygenation, the loss of oxygen from seawater,” says Payne. These are the very same threats to the oceans that we’re worried about now due to ongoing climate change. But the Permian extinction, some 250 million years ago, did not feature a selective disappearance of large-bodied organisms, Payne says.

Thus, as previous work has also suggested, the current study underscores ecosystem risks are not being principally driven by a changing climate — yet. Rather, they’re being driven more directly by humans which species hunt and fish, and where they destroy ecosystems to build homes, farms, cities, and much more. But as climate change worsens, it will compound what’s already happening.

“The losses the authors describe in the oceans do not include the extinctions expected from business-as-usual climate change,” said Barnosky. “Adding those human-triggered losses onto those we’re already causing from over-fishing, pollution, and so on is very likely to put the human race in the same class as an asteroid strike–like the one that killed the dinosaurs–as an extinction driver.”
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Re: What The ‘sixth Extinction’ Will Look Like In The Oceans: The Largest Species Die Off First
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:34 pm

UN makes power play against Donald Trump

Quote:
International governments have made a power play against Donald Trump by ratifying an international climate deal earlier than expected, effectively preventing him from "canceling" the deal as he has promised to do.

The European Union's Tuesday decision to join the Paris climate deal will push the deal over the threshold for ratification; it will formally take effect in 30 days.

That means Trump, should he be elected president in November, could not "cancel" or renegotiate the terms of the agreement.

President Obama committed the United States to reduce its emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025 as part of the deal. The agreement is nonbinding, so Trump would be free to ignore it if he wins the White House.

Some say Trump's rhetoric about the deal helped speed up ratification.

Most officials expected the climate deal, negotiated in December in Paris, to take effect no earlier than next year. A similar international climate accord, the Kyoto Protocol, wasn't ratified for five years.

But the specter of a Trump presidency appears to have spurred the deal along.
"His threat stimulated this rapid series of ratifications - China, the USA, Europe, and many others," Robert Stavins, the director of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, wrote in an email.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/un-makes-power-play-against-donald-trump/ ar-BBx1569?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=iehp
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Re: What The ‘sixth Extinction’ Will Look Like In The Oceans: The Largest Species Die Off First
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:40 am

Study: Most of methane hot spot comes from natural gas leaks
August 15, 2016 2:01 PM
http://denver.cbslocal.com/2016/08/15/colorado-contributes-to-methane-hot-spot

NASA study confirms massive methane hot spot over Four Corners natural gas producing region
By JWN staff |
Aug. 18, 2016, 7:43 a.m.
http://www.jwnenergy.com/article/2016/8/nasa-study-confirms-massive-methane-hot- spot-over-four-corners-natural-gas-producing-region/

NASA Study Nails Fracking as Source of Massive Methane 'Hot Spot'
The 2,500-square mile plume is said to be the largest concentration of the potent greenhouse gas in the country
By Lauren McCauley, staff writer
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/16/nasa-study-nails-fracking-source-ma ssive-methane-hot-spot

Methane detected on alien planet - Technology & science ...
By Andrea Thompson

updated 3/19/2008 3:17:37 PM ET
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/23708164/ns/technology_and_science-space/t/organic-mol %20ecule-detected-alien-planet

Methane Glows in Alien Planet's Atmosphere
By Andrea Thompson, OurAmazingPlanet Managing Editor | February 3, 2010 01:04pm ET
https://www.space.com/7862-methane-glows-alien-planets-atmosphere.html

Methane Matters - Scientists Work to Quantify the Effects of a Potent Greenhouse Gas-
By Adam VoilandDesign by Joshua Stevens - March 8, 2016
https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/MethaneMatters

Natural gas vs coal: It's all in the leak rate
By William H. Schlesinger - August 18, 2016 2:59 PM

When it comes to generating electricity, coal is a dirty fuel. It's dirty to mine, dirty to burn and dirty to dispose of the ash. But until recently coal was the cheapest fuel for electric power, so it has been widely used across the U.S. Last year about 32 percent of our nation's CO2 emissions came from coal-fired power plants.

Now, two factors are pushing for a switch away from coal: President Obama's commitment to cut carbon dioxide emissions to reduce global climate change and the low price of natural gas, which is now competitive with coal in electric power plants. There is widespread interest in natural gas across the electric utility industry, because various studies indicate that burning natural gas rather than coal can reduce CO2 emissions by about 40 percent for the equivalent amount of power generation. Utilities, such as Duke Energy, are proposing new natural gas-powered power plants, with the goal of reducing their CO2 emissions.

Environmental advocates face a dilemma with respect to natural gas. It is cleaner, but about half of our natural gas is now derived from hydraulic fracture (fracking) methodology, which many environmentalists oppose. And, natural gas is a fossil fuel that releases CO2 to the atmosphere when it is burned.

From the mine to the power plant, there is little loss of coal to the environment. Unfortunately, that is not the case with natural gas, where there are leaks in the oil field, leaks from the pipeline distribution system and leaks from storage.

Leakage of natural gas, which is predominately methane, has another drawback. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that exerts about 86 times the global warming potential in the atmosphere compared with CO2 during the first 20 years after emission. Leakage from oil and gas fields makes a significant contribution to the annual emissions of methane to the atmosphere. The concentration of methane in Earth's atmosphere is increasing every year, although it is not at all certain whether this is due to greater leakage of natural gas or increases from other sources, such as wetlands.

In any case, we need to include the emissions of methane from leaks in the natural gas distribution system in any comparison with coal. Consider the following: In burning coal about 25 grams of carbon are emitted to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide per MJ of energy produced. With natural gas, only about 15 grams of carbon are released. At first glance, gas looks great.

The leak rate of natural gas averages about 2 percent to 4 percent of production. Over a 20-year-period, a leakage rate of 1.5 percent would give natural gas nearly twice the impact on global climate change versus coal. I pick a 20-year period for the calculation because that is taken by many atmospheric scientists to be the window-of-opportunity we have to prevent harmful levels of climate change. By that account, switching to natural gas is a really bad idea.

Indeed, any leakage rate above about 1 percent of gross production negates the advantages of natural gas with respect to mitigating climate change over the next 20 years. No surprise that the natural gas industry reports that the average leak rate in the U.S. is only about 0.5 percent of gas production, but individual studies report larger values, and the leak rate varies widely among U.S. cities.

As the arguments for coal versus natural gas play out in the coming months, the choice will depend upon the leak rate for natural gas. If you want to hedge your bets, encourage your power company to invest in wind, solar, tidal or geothermal power. These are now cost-competitive with coal and offer a no-regrets future.

William H. Schlesinger is James B. Duke Professor of Biogeochemistry (emeritus) and Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment (emeritus) at Duke University.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article96435817.html#storylink=cpy
http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article96435817.html
Last edited by Batman47 on Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:42 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: What The ‘sixth Extinction’ Will Look Like In The Oceans: The Largest Species Die Off First
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:43 am

When Will The Planet Be Too Hot For Humans? Much, Much Sooner Than You Imagine.
Daily Intelligencer - David Wallace-Wells – 7/10/2017
*This article appears in the July 10, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.

The following are only parts of the entire article

I. ‘Doomsday’
Peering beyond scientific reticence.

Arctic permafrost contains 1.8 trillion tons of carbon, more than twice as much as is currently suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere. When it thaws and is released, that carbon may evaporate as methane, which is 34 times as powerful a greenhouse-gas warming blanket as carbon dioxide when judged on the timescale of a century; when judged on the timescale of two decades, it is 86 times as powerful. In other words, we have, trapped in Arctic permafrost, twice as much carbon as is currently wrecking the atmosphere of the planet, all of it scheduled to be released at a date that keeps getting moved up, partially in the form of a gas that multiplies its warming power 86 times over.

Maybe you know that already — there are alarming stories every day, like last month’s satellite data showing the globe warming, since 1998, more than twice as fast as scientists had thought. Or the news from Antarctica this past May, when a crack in an ice shelf grew 11 miles in six days, then kept going; the break now has just three miles to go — by the time you read this, it may already have met the open water, where it will drop into the sea one of the biggest icebergs ever, a process known poetically as “calving.”

II. Heat Death
The bahraining of New York.

At 11 or 12 degrees of warming, more than half the world’s population, as distributed today, would die of direct heat.

At present, most regions reach a wet-bulb maximum of 26 or 27 degrees Celsius; the true red line for habitability is 35 degrees. What is called heat stress comes much sooner.

Actually, we’re about there already. Since 1980, the planet has experienced a 50-fold increase in the number of places experiencing dangerous or extreme heat; a bigger increase is to come. The five warmest summers in Europe since 1500 have all occurred since 2002, and soon, the IPCC warns, simply being outdoors that time of year will be unhealthy for much of the globe. Even if we meet the Paris goals of two degrees warming, cities like Karachi and Kolkata will become close to uninhabitable, annually encountering deadly heat waves like those that crippled them in 2015. At four degrees, the deadly European heat wave of 2003, which killed as many as 2,000 people a day, will be a normal summer. At six, according to an assessment focused only on effects within the U.S. from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, summer labor of any kind would become impossible in the lower Mississippi Valley, and everybody in the country east of the Rockies would be under more heat stress than anyone, anywhere, in the world today.

III. The End of Food
Praying for cornfields in the tundra.

Climates differ and plants vary, but the basic rule for staple cereal crops grown at optimal temperature is that for every degree of warming, yields decline by 10 percent. Some estimates run as high as 15 or even 17 percent. Which means that if the planet is five degrees warmer at the end of the century, we may have as many as 50 percent more people to feed and 50 percent less grain to give them. And proteins are worse: It takes 16 calories of grain to produce just a single calorie of hamburger meat, butchered from a cow that spent its life polluting the climate with methane farts.

IV. Climate Plagues
What happens when the bubonic ice melts?

There are now, trapped in Arctic ice, diseases that have not circulated in the air for millions of years — in some cases, since before humans were around to encounter them. Which means our immune systems would have no idea how to fight back when those prehistoric plagues emerge from the ice.

The Arctic also stores terrifying bugs from more recent times. In Alaska, already, researchers have discovered remnants of the 1918 flu that infected as many as 500 million and killed as many as 100 million — about 5 percent of the world’s population and almost six times as many as had died in the world war for which the pandemic served as a kind of gruesome capstone. As the BBC reported in May, scientists suspect smallpox and the bubonic plague are trapped in Siberian ice, too — an abridged history of devastating human sickness, left out like egg salad in the Arctic sun.

As it happens, Zika may also be a good model of the second worrying effect — disease mutation. One reason you hadn’t heard about Zika until recently is that it had been trapped in Uganda; another is that it did not, until recently, appear to cause birth defects.

Malaria, for instance, thrives in hotter regions not just because the mosquitoes that carry it do, too, but because for every degree increase in temperature, the parasite reproduces ten times faster. Which is one reason that the World Bank estimates that by 2050, 5.2 billion people will be reckoning with it.

V. Unbreathable Air
A rolling death smog that suffocates millions.

Our lungs need oxygen, but that is only a fraction of what we breathe. The fraction of carbon dioxide is growing: It just crossed 400 parts per million, and high-end estimates extrapolating from current trends suggest it will hit 1,000 ppm by 2100. At that concentration, compared to the air we breathe now, human cognitive ability declines by 21 percent.
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Re: What The ‘sixth Extinction’ Will Look Like In The Oceans: The Largest Species Die Off First
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:43 am

VI. Perpetual War
The violence baked into heat.

For every half-degree of warming, they say, societies will see between a 10 and 20 percent increase in the likelihood of armed conflict. In climate science, nothing is simple, but the arithmetic is harrowing: A planet five degrees warmer would have at least half again as many wars as we do today. Overall, social conflict could more than double this century.

VII. Permanent Economic Collapse
Dismal capitalism in a half-poorer world

Every degree Celsius of warming costs, on average, 1.2 percent of GDP (an enormous number, considering we count growth in the low single digits as “strong”). This is the sterling work in the field, and their median projection is for a 23 percent loss in per capita earning globally by the end of this century (resulting from changes in agriculture, crime, storms, energy, mortality, and labor).

Tracing the shape of the probability curve is even scarier: There is a 12 percent chance that climate change will reduce global output by more than 50 percent by 2100, they say, and a 51 percent chance that it lowers per capita GDP by 20 percent or more by then, unless emissions decline. By comparison, the Great Recession lowered global GDP by about 6 percent, in a onetime shock; Hsiang and his colleagues estimate a one-in-eight chance of an ongoing and irreversible effect by the end of the century that is eight times worse.

VIII. Poisoned Oceans
Sulfide burps off the skeleton coast.

That the sea will become a killer is a given. Barring a radical reduction of emissions, we will see at least four feet of sea-level rise and possibly ten by the end of the century. A third of the world’s major cities are on the coast, not to mention its power plants, ports, navy bases, farmlands, fisheries, river deltas, marshlands, and rice-paddy empires, and even those above ten feet will flood much more easily, and much more regularly, if the water gets that high. At least 600 million people live within ten meters of sea level today.

But the drowning of those homelands is just the start. At present, more than a third of the world’s carbon is sucked up by the oceans — thank God, or else we’d have that much more warming already. But the result is what’s called “ocean acidification,” which, on its own, may add a half a degree to warming this century. It is also already burning through the planet’s water basins — you may remember these as the place where life arose in the first place. You have probably heard of “coral bleaching” — that is, coral dying — which is very bad news, because reefs support as much as a quarter of all marine life and supply food for half a billion people. Ocean acidification will fry fish populations directly, too, though scientists aren’t yet sure how to predict the effects on the stuff we haul out of the ocean to eat; they do know that in acid waters, oysters and mussels will struggle to grow their shells, and that when the pH of human blood drops as much as the oceans’ pH has over the past generation, it induces seizures, comas, and sudden death.

That isn’t all that ocean acidification can do. Carbon absorption can initiate a feedback loop in which underoxygenated waters breed different kinds of microbes that turn the water still more “anoxic,” first in deep ocean “dead zones,” then gradually up toward the surface. There, the small fish die out, unable to breathe, which means oxygen-eating bacteria thrive, and the feedback loop doubles back. This process, in which dead zones grow like cancers, choking off marine life and wiping out fisheries, is already quite advanced in parts of the Gulf of Mexico and just off Namibia, where hydrogen sulfide is bubbling out of the sea along a thousand-mile stretch of land known as the “Skeleton Coast.”

IX. The Great Filter
Our present eeriness cannot last.

Several of the scientists I spoke with proposed global warming as the solution to Fermi’s famous paradox, which asks, If the universe is so big, then why haven’t we encountered any other intelligent life in it? The answer, they suggested, is that the natural life span of a civilization may be only several thousand years, and the life span of an industrial civilization perhaps only several hundred. In a universe that is many billions of years old, with star systems separated as much by time as by space, civilizations might emerge and develop and burn themselves up simply too fast to ever find one another. Peter Ward, a charismatic paleontologist among those responsible for discovering that the planet’s mass extinctions were caused by greenhouse gas, calls this the “Great Filter”: “Civilizations rise, but there’s an environmental filter that causes them to die off again and disappear fairly quickly,” he told me. “If you look at planet Earth, the filtering we’ve had in the past has been in these mass extinctions.” The mass extinction we are now living through has only just begun; so much more dying is coming.
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/when-will-the-planet-be-too-hot-for-hum ans-much-much-sooner-than-you-imagine/ar-BBE6TNd?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=iehp
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