Biblical Flooding, Crocodiles in the Arctic and Warning Signs on North America’s Highest Mountain

Published on Truthout, 11 July 2016.

Dramatic signs of the impacts of human-caused climate disruption abound, even on North America’s highest peak. NASA records another hottest month of its type, studies warn of palm trees in the Arctic and more in this month’s climate dispatch from Dahr Jamail.

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When Whales Cannot Hear: Ocean Noise Doubling Every 10 Years

Published on Truthout, 4 June 2016.

A blue whale is able to communicate with another blue whale across the breadth of an entire ocean basin, and can hear storms more than 1,000 miles away.

“Whales are reliant upon their hearing to live,” Dr. Sylvia Earle, a marine biologist, author and lecturer who has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998 says in the documentary Sonic Sea.

Earle, who has logged more than 7,000 hours underwater, refers to the oceans as “the blue heart of the planet,” and has dedicated her life to researching and protecting them.

Part of this is due to the fact that the amount of sound humans are injecting into them is so intense and frequent that it is, at times, literally killing whales, dolphins and other sea life.

I attended a screening of Sonic Sea in Port Townsend, Washington, where Michael Jasny, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Marine Mammal Protection, and Dr. Kenneth Balcomb, the executive director and senior scientist at the Center for Whale Research were present.

The film, which aired last week on the Discovery Channel, states that, “We are acoustically bleaching our oceans,” and underscores several deeply disturbing facts about the ever-increasing level of noise in the sea, including that:

Sounds can travel 17,000 kilometers underwater and still be audible
Whale calls are literally being drowned out by ship noise
There are 60,000 commercial ships in the oceans at any given moment.
According to the US Navy, noise levels in the oceans are doubling every 10 years, and have been doing so for decades.

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Mangroves in Crisis: Why One Man Works to Save the Plants That Fight Climate Disruption

Published on Truthout, 31 May 2016.

It’s not news that anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is accelerating at unprecedented rates, according to climate scientists. Fifteen of the 16 hottest years ever recorded have occurred since 2000, and this year is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded — by far. And the pace of planetary warming is only increasing, as is made dramatically clear in this recently published graphic.

Hence, the need to do everything possible to work towards mitigating this crisis is obvious. There is no way to completely reverse the trend, but as more and more people acknowledge our shared moral responsibility to mitigate the impacts, some are uncovering creative strategies for fighting planetary warming. For instance, an unlikely epiphany led one man towards an effort to preserve and protect mangrove forests, a tactic that would not necessarily be most folks’ first tactic to address climate disruption.

In 1992, Alfredo Quarto was in southern Thailand working on an article about fisherfolk when he became aware that mangrove forests were under threat by the shrimping aquaculture industry.

“The common threat I saw to all these local farmers [was] outside investors who were destroying both their lands and livelihoods by destroying the mangrove forests they depended upon in order to make more shrimp farms,” Quarto told Truthout. “I was deeply moved by a village headman whose father had been murdered by a local shrimp mafia because he defied their cutting down the mangroves.”

Quarto said that the man told him, “If there are no mangrove forests, then the sea will have no meaning. It is like having a tree with no roots, for the mangroves are the roots of the sea.”

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Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentration Has Passed the Point of No Return

Published on Truthout, 23 May 2016.

Human-caused climate disruption is causing “unprecedented” melting in the Arctic, and record wildfires and warm temperatures. It’s also a driving force behind increased risks of extinction for one-third of all North American birds — and for human beings.

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