Archive | Environment

In Arctic, Ancient Diseases Reanimate and Highways Melt as Temperatures Hit “Frenzy” of Records

Published on Truthout, 21 August 2016.

By the time I’d reached the end of my 10 years of reportage on the impacts of the US occupation of Iraq in 2013, it was impossible for me to find an Iraqi who did not have a family member, relative or friend who had been killed either by US troops, an act of non-state sponsored terrorism or random violence spun off one of the aforementioned.

Now, having spent the entire summer in Alaska, I’ve yet to have a conversation with national park rangers, glaciologists or simply avid outdoors-people that has not included a story of disbelief, amazement and often shock over the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) across their beloved state.

Whether it is rivers causing massive erosion after being turbo-charged by rapidly melting glaciers, dramatically warmer temperatures throughout the year, or the increasingly rapid melting and retreat of the glaciers themselves, everyone who is out there, seeing the impacts firsthand, has a grave experience to share.

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Alaskans Witness Collapsing Mountains, Shattered Lives

Published on Truthout, 1 August 2016.

The impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) across Alaska are devastating to witness.

In late June, due to glaciers melting at unprecedented rates, the side of a mountain nearly a mile high in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, which had formerly been supported by glacial ice, collapsed completely. The landslide released over 100 million tons of rock, sending debris miles across a glacier beneath what was left of the mountain.

This is something that has been happening more often in recent years in the northernmost US state. While Alaska’s local conservative media often tend to feign ignorance of the cause of such phenomena, what’s causing it is all too clear. The state has been hitting and surpassing record temperatures over the last year, and the same can be said for the globe. It’s plainly obvious why ice is melting at record rates.

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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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