Blog Archive

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

EU restricts neonicotinoid pesticide use to help save bees

EU aims to better protect bees from pesticides

EU aims to better protect bees from pesticides
Credit: The Associated Press

EU says it will push through better bee protections after members disagree over pesticides

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union plans to restrict the use of three pesticides to better protect dwindling bee populations.

The announcement Monday was cheered by environmentalists, disappointed chemical companies and came after the bloc's 27 nations failed to agree on a common stand.

EU Consumer Commissioner Tonio Borg said his agency will override the deadlock and move "in the coming weeks" to restrict three neonicotinoid pesticides on plants and cereals that attract bees. The measure takes effect Dec. 1 for two years unless decisive new information becomes available.

Beekeepers have reported an unusual decline in bees over the past decade, particularly in Western Europe, according to the European Food Safety Authority. It says bees are critically important to the environment, sustaining biodiversity by providing pollination for a wide range of crops and wild plants — including most of the food crops in Europe.

Borg said bees contribute over 22 billion euros ($29 billion) a year to European agriculture.
In all, 15 EU nations were for the restrictions, eight were against and four abstained. Borg said he still felt confident in moving ahead because "a majority of member states now support our proposal."

Environmentalists welcomed the move.

"Today's pesticide ban throws Europe's bees a vital lifeline," said Iain Keith of the Avaaz environmental group. "Europe is taking science seriously and must now put the full ban in place to give bees the breathing space they need."

But major chemical companies, which were against Borg's proposals, have questioned the scientific evidence for such a ban.

The head of the EU Parliament's environmental committee acknowledged that "precise data is still lacking" but applauded the consumer agency's action.

"We shall now try to understand how exactly neonicotinoids affect the behavior of bees," said Matthias Groote.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

R L Miller, DailyKos: Brian Schweitzer: bold progressive or just another fossil-fueled politician? [we need Denise Juneau]

FILE - In this Sept. 6, 2012, file photo, then-Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. In February 2013, the former governor is partnering with a New York hedge fund to launch a proxy battle for contro
AP via DailyKos image library
The DailyKos community has just concluded its a series of blogs opposing the Keystone pipeline, that piece of infrastructure that would carry planet-cooking tar sands from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico. Separately, the DailyKos editorial board is running a campaign to draft a vocal supporter of the Keystone pipeline who’s so confident that the pipeline will be built that he’ll bet the $100 burning a hole in his pocket. “It’s got to be built,” he says, criticizing the "jackasses that are complaining."
Schweitzer isn’t only a friend to Canadian tarsands. He’s also a big booster of Powder River Basin coal shared between Wyoming and Montana. "60 Minutes" has dubbed him the coal cowboy: “He says flat out that his plan will change the world, and that the key to the country's energy future is buried in the grassy plains of eastern Montana.” Proponents of Schweitzer’s “clean coal” proposal trumpet its ability to free the United States from foreign oil; scientists respond: “What they’re proposing is simply not allowable if we want to avoid the perils of unconstrained anthropogenic climate change,” said Pushker Karecha of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “The bottom line is that there’s one fatal flaw in their proposed [coal-to-liquids] process from a climate protection standpoint. It would allow liquid fuel CO2 emissions to continue increasing indefinitely.”
When it’s disclosed that Mark Zuckerberg funds pro-Keystone XL ads, the denouncement is swift --  a CREDO petition asking his group to stop running ads supporting fossil fuels already has 13,000 signatures. But when Brian Schweitzer does the same? Crickets. Instead, Progressive Change Campaign Committee gets 15,000 signatures on a petition to draft him.
Why are progressives so willing to overlook Schweitzer’s pro-Keystone, pro-coal stands?
Myth: “There are no other viable Democratic politicians in MT. If we don’t run Schweitzer the Democrats will lose a seat.” Fact: This Great Falls Tribune story lays out all the potential candidates, including Denise Juneau and Stephanie Schriock.
Juneau, the first Native American woman elected to statewide office, is particularly intriguing - she was the sole no vote on expanding the Otter Creek coal mine (Schweitzer voted yes). “We could sell every parcel of state land and log every tree on state lands, but we don’t,” said Juneau at the Otter Creek hearing. “We don’t because we want to sustain Montana’s lands for future beneficial use … Of course there is [monetary] value in mining the coal. But there is also value in keeping Montana ‘Montana.’” She spoke to the Democratic National Convention on the value of education: 
Schriock is the president of EMILY’s List, ran campaigns for Jon Tester and Al Franken, and thus brings a formidable campaign presence. A PPP poll on the Montana Senate race in February, when Baucus was in the picture, found that Schweitzer was competitive, Nancy Keenan of NARAL less so, but didn’t poll any other Democrats. Schweitzer may be the front runner, but the state has many other Democrats along with a strong populist tradition not limited to Schweitzer.
Climate change protesters in Kalispell, Montana.
photo credit via Ojibwa at the Forward on Climate rally
Myth: “Montana is a coal state, so we can excuse him.” Fact: Montana is a state dependent on a lot of industries -- mining jobs are far less than jobs in the tourism industry. Some ranchers line up to oppose coal, wary of turning the state into an Asian resource colony. Montana also has good-to-excellent wind resources (which Schweitzer, to his credit, does promote). In short, the state is not just a coal state, and a truly forward-looking leader will move the state away from a poisonous resource instead of maintaining its dependence.
Myth: “Schweitzer is so good on other issues that it trumps his pro-coal positions.” Yes, he favors single-payer health care, as if that has a chance of becoming law any time soon. Yes, he’s as good on banking reform as Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown. Fact: those positions pale in comparison to what James Hansen has famously called “game over for the planet.”
Simply put, it’s time to stop giving Democratic candidates a pass on dirty fossil fuels. Big Oil and the coal barons have a business plan to change the chemical composition of the atmosphere in the name of their profit. It’s time for Democrats to stop enabling them.

Ted Glick, GRIST: Brian Eister's 27th day on hunger strike in front of the American Petroleum Institute

Hunger Strike on 27th Day

As I write this Brian Eister is on the 27th day of a water-only climate hunger strike outside the American Petroleum Institute in Washington, D.C. The only thing he has consumed since April 1st is water, sodium and potassium.
Brian’s latest posts on his website,, report on both his continuing resolve but also the hunger and physical difficulties he is experiencing. On the 26th day he wrote, “The days are dragging on and hunger has become quite intense, but the sacrifice I am making here is modest. . .”
I know what he is going through. I have done three long hunger strikes of 25 or more days on water only. On the last two, one in 1992 and one in 2007, it was right around that time that my body began telling me that I needed to do one of two things if I was not to put myself at greater risk: slow down and use even less energy than I’d been using up to that point, or consume something that had calories.
On the 1992 one I slowed down and stayed on water-only, ending the fast with about a dozen others after 42 days. The purpose of it was to call attention to the need for US society to finally turn away from what Christopher Columbus set in motion 500 years before–the destruction of the ecosystem and the decimation of the Indigenous peoples of what is now called the Americas.
On the 2007 one, a climate emergency fast similar to Brian’s, I decided to go onto liquids after 25 days and, for the next 82 days, consumed fruit and vegetable juices and liquid-only soups and broths.
When I heard about Brian’s planned hunger strike several months ago, I seriously considered joining it but ending up deciding that it wasn’t the right thing for me to do at this time. But I support Brian and know that what he is doing is an important contribution to the process of building the kind of climate movement that has a fighting chance of making a renewable energy revolution in enough time to prevent runaway climate catastrophe.
“I am on hunger strike,” Brian writes, “because I can think of no action which could adequately express the urgency of humanity’s present situation. There are more than a few trends which, left unchecked, are likely to make life impossibly difficult for future generations. Global Warming, of course, seems to be the one that we have the least time to fix. Given the urgency of what is coming, every one of our lives should, first and foremost, be dedicated to preventing this coming catastrophe.”
I’ve recently read Proof of Heaven, a book which has been at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list for 25 weeks. It is written by a prominent, formerly non-religious brain surgeon, Eben Alexander, who nearly died in 2008 of an acute form of meningitis. During his seven days in a coma, he experienced what can only be described as an other-worldly, Heaven experience, and it changed his life.
In the book Alexander has an incisive quote which, I would say, helps to place what Brian is doing in its proper context:
“For all of the successes of Western civilization, the world has paid a dear price in terms of the most crucial component of existence—our human spirit. The shadow side of high technology—modern warfare and thoughtless homicide and suicide, urban blight, ecological mayhem, cataclysmic climate change, polarization of economic resources—is bad enough. Much worse, our focus on exponential progress in science and technology has left many of us relatively bereft in the realm of meaning and joy, and of knowing how our lives fit into the grand scheme of existence for all eternity.”
Fasting for more than a few days is one of the most effective ways, from my experience, to connect with what is most important in this world, and it definitely isn’t money and power. It is a way to develop one’s spiritual resources and resolve in the face of what often seem like very long odds.
Each of us as individuals will be strengthened if we take time to think about Brian’s sacrifice. We should reflect upon how we can speak up and take action beyond our current comfort level, at a level commensurate with the seriousness of the climate crisis.
Ted Glick has been a climate activist since 2004 and a progressive activist since 1968. Past writings and more information can be found at

Friday, April 26, 2013

Climate hero Brian Eister on day 26 of hunger strike at American Petroleum Institute in Washington, DC

This is a call out to all readers. Please help Brian in any way you can. Post his story on facebook, spread the word on twitter, +Google it, write about it on your own blog, and send him words of support. Few people have this type of courage. Lord knows I do not.  He is doing what we all wish we had the courage to do.
Contact:  Brian Eister
Phone:  702-556-9674
Twitter: @hungry4afuture
Hashtag:  #climatehungerstrike

From Day 24, he writes:
I have not been posting here as consistently as I would like.
Undertaking an extended hunger strike while doing your own press work presents unique challenges, and I am doing my best to balance all of them.
The days are dragging on and hunger has become quite intense, but the sacrifice I am making here is modest compared with the gravity and magnitude of humanity’s situation.
We go about our day-to-day lives as though things are okay. In our minds, we imagine that somehow, someway, this problem will be solved: how, after all, could a world full of responsible adults allow all of our children’s lives (and their children’s lives) to be ruined?
The fact is, the kind of change that is necessary for all future generations not to suffer immensely is nearly impossible under present circumstances.
If all of us get off of the sidelines and dedicate our lives to saving this world and its ability to sustain human life as it does today we have a chance: but if we continue to expect that others will solve the problem we will be in for a very sore surprise.
I am now 24 days into this hunger strike to demonstrate a fraction of the dedication that is necessary to overcome the power of the trillions of dollars of fossil fuel wealth that still sits in the ground, counted on balance sheets and leveraged by the carrots and sticks of campaign finance.
The truth is, I’m not doing enough.
In the name of love, in the name of the care that we have for others, and in the name of our sacred obligation to care for our children, we all have to do more.

A Man For All Seasons: James Hansen Wins The Ridenhour Courage Prize

by Joe Romm, Climate Progress, April 24, 2013

James Hansen was awarded the Ridenhour Courage Prize today.

The Prize is “presented to an individual in recognition of his or her courageous and life-long defense of the public interest and passionate commitment to social justice.”

I was given the great privilege of introducing Hansen. This is what I prepared:

Dr. James Hansen is being honored today in part because he told Congress: “The global warming now is large enough that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause-and-effect relationship to the greenhouse effect.”

The courageous part isn’t what he said, it’s when he said it — 25 years ago, during the sweltering summer of 1988. It was the first high-profile public statement by a US government scientist alerting the country to this grave threat.

Jim embodies the Ridenhour Courage Prize. When he was still NASA’s top climate scientist, he blew the whistle on government efforts to silence him — and others — on climate change.
Jim is a modern day Paul Revere … if Paul Revere’s midnight ride had taken place in 1750 and the message was, “The British are coming, The British are coming — in 25 years.”

Yes, climate change is a challenging story to tell. And Jim has actually been telling it publicly since 1981, when he published his first warning that led to a major New York Times story, headlined, “Study Finds Warming Trend That Could Raise Sea Levels.”

And yet carbon pollution has kept rising. We live in a spineless world, where being scientifically right for over 30 years gives you no more credit with the national media than being a professional disinformer funded by the fossil fuel industry.

How spineless is this world? If a doctor used the best science to diagnose a smoker as having early-stage emphysema and the doctor did NOT urge the patient to start quitting cigarettes, he’d be charged with malpractice.

But if a climatologist uses the best science to diagnose an entire planet as having early-stage climate change, and he urges the world to start quitting fossil fuels, well, then he is labeled an alarmist or an extremist by industry-backed groups.

The truth is we all should be alarmed by the great moral crisis of our time. By destroying a livable climate we are stealing the future from our children and grandchildren and countless future generations.

To save this spineless world from itself, supplying the truth isn’t enough. You need to supply the spine, too. You need to be courageous. And so Jim has been forced by the times — and by his moral convictions — to become an activist.

There is a saying that applies to Jim, “One man with courage is a majority.”

How many scientists have spawned an entire movement?

Five years ago Jim explained that “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted,” we need to return carbon dioxide levels back to 350 parts per million. That led to Bill McKibben founding the group

Then Jim said burning the tar sands would be “game over for the climate” — and that led to the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline — and the biggest protests and civil disobedience the climate movement had ever seen.

And because Jim has the courage of his convictions he has had the courage to be convicted himself — he’s been arrested 5 times during peaceful protests.

Fifty years ago this month, another great moral crusader was arrested for protesting — and he wrote a letter from his jail cell in Birmingham explaining why. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” wrote Martin Luther King Jr. on April 16, 1963. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

Now more than ever, we are “tied in a single garment of destiny,” cloaked as a species in a protective climate that we are in the process of unraveling. And so the need for activism, the need for courage, the need to speak out, is as great as ever.

As King put it, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

It is my singular honor to give you a man who will not have to repent, a man for all seasons, literally — the winner of the 2013 Ridenhour Courage Prize, Dr. James Hansen.

RealClimate: The answer is blowing in the wind: The warming went into the deep end [of the oceans]

by rasmus, RealClimate, April 26, 2013
There has been an unusual surge of interest in the climate sensitivity based on the last decade’s worth of temperature measurements, and a lengthy story in the Economist tries to argue that the climate sensitivity may be lower than previously estimated. I think its conclusion is somewhat misguided because it missed some important pieces of information (also see Skeptical Science’s take on this story here).

The ocean heat content and the global mean sea level height have marched on.
While the Economist referred to some unpublished work, it missed a new paper by Balmaseda et al. (2013) which provides a more in-depth insight. Balmaseda et al. suggest that recent years may not have much effect on the climate sensitivity after all, and according to their analysis, it is the winds blowing over the oceans that may be responsible for the ‘slow-down’ presented in the Economist.

It is well-known that changes in temperature on decadal time scales are strongly influenced by natural and internal variations, and should not be confused with a long-term trend (Easterling & Wehner 2009Foster & Rahmstorf 2011).

An intensification of the trades has affected surface ocean currents called the subtropical gyres, and these changes have resulted in a predominance of the La Nina state. The La Nina phase is associated with a lower global mean temperature than usual.

Balmaseda et al.’s results also suggested that a negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) may have made an imprint on the most recent years. In addition, they found that the deep ocean has warmed over the recent years, while the upper 300 m of the oceans have ‘stabilised.’ 
The oceans can be compared to a battery that needs to be recharged after going flat. After the powerful 1997-98 El Nino, heat flowed out of the tropical oceans in order to heat the atmosphere (evaporative cooling) and the higher latitudes. The warming resumed after the ‘deflation,’ but something happened after 1998: since then, the warming has involved the deep ocean to a much greater extent. A weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) may have played a role in the deep ocean warming.

The recent changes in these decade-scale variations appear to have masked the real accumulation of heat on Earth.

The new knowledge from this paper, the way I read it, is the revelation of the role of winds for vertical mixing/diffusion of heat in a new analysis of the world oceans. Their results were derived through a set of different experiments testing the sensitivity to various assumptions and choices made for data inclusion and the ocean model assimilation set-up.

The analysis involved a brand new ocean analysis (ORAS4, Balmaseda et al. 2013) based on an optimal use of observations, data assimilation, and an ocean model forced with state-of-the-art description of the atmosphere (reanalyses).

By running a set of different experiments with the ocean model, including different conditions, such as surface winds and different types of data, they explored which influence the different conditions have on their final conclusion.

The finding that the winds play a role for the state of the warming may not be surprising to oceanographers, although it may not necessarily be the first thing a meteorologist may consider.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Richie Havens: Freedom [at Woodstock, 1969]

Uploaded on Jan 21, 2012 by ShufflebassT to YouTube: Rest In Peace Richard Pierce "Richie" Havens.. ☮ (January 21, 1941 - April 22, 2013) More than 3 months ago I decided to take a look into the woodstock history and music. I was interested in peace, freedom and the hippie scene. Then I found this excellent, unique live performance by Richie Havens. At first I thought that he is just a very talented guitar player, but when he began to sing, my whole world stopped. His amazing own voice kinda petrified me. After that I imagined that he just sat there more than 42 years ago in front of more than 400 thousand people and sang into the microphone "YEAH ! FREEDOM ! FREEDOM !" and that was the moment which changed my life. Then I watched other videos where he sang freedom at woodstock and i realized that there is no real version of it. All versions are sort of pitched up (that means his voice is a bit higher than normaly) I downloaded one video, made it HD and made his voice deeper, so now in this video you will hear the real voice version and video of him. By the way, today was richie's 71st birthday. So I wish one of the greatest men alive HAPPY BIRTHDAY and all the best.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Arctic Sea Ice Loss Visualized In Animated 3-D Chart by Andy Lee Robinson

from Peter Sinclair, Climate Denial Crock of the Week, April 23, 2013

Andy Lee Robinson is at it again with ice visualization magic.  These visuals are powerful and give individuals a vivid and visceral handle on what is happening on the roof of the world.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Unanimously Pass Resolution Urging Fossil Fuel Divestment. Resolution urges the city’s retirement system to divest over $583 million from the fossil fuel industry

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Board of Supervisors (SFERS) passed a unanimous resolution this afternoon calling on the San Francisco Employee Retirement System to divest over $583 million invested in the 200 corporations that hold the majority of the world’s fossil fuel reserves. 

The resolution makes San Francisco the third city in the nation after Ithaca and Seattle to push for fossil fuel divestment. If the SFERS Board agrees to the Supervisors’ request, it will become the largest pension fund in the country to divest from the fossil fuel industry. 

“Divestment is an important part of our city response to climate change,” said Supervisor John Avalos, who introduced the resolution.

The San Francisco Employee’s Retirement System (SFERS)  is a roughly $16 billion pension fund that serves more than 52,000 active and retired employees of the City and County of San Francisco and their survivors. According to SFERS Executive Director Jay Huish, the fund currently owns $583.7 million of public holdings in 91 of top 200 fossil fuel companies. Some of SFERS’ largest fossil fuel holdings include $112 million in ExxonMobil, $60 million in Chevron, $26 million in Shell Oil, $17 million in Occidental Petroleum, and $11 million in the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. (1)

The push for fossil fuel divestment is part of a new national campaign, Go Fossil Free, that is modeled on the 1980s movement to divest from apartheid South Africa. The movement has spread to over 100 cities and 300 colleges and universities across the country. Four colleges, Unity, Hampshire, Sterling, and College of the Atlantic, have committed to divestment. There are also active campaigns on every University of California campus. Earlier this spring, UC Berkeley’s student government voted to divest their $2 million budget from fossil fuels. (2) 

In San Francisco, the divestment campaign was led by 350 Bay Area and the national campaign and supported by groups including SEIU 1021, SF Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, Center for Biological Diverstiy, and more. 

“San Francisco’s commitment is a big victory for the burgeoning fossil fuel divestment movement,” said Bill McKibben, founder, one of the organizations helping lead Go Fossil Free campaign. “The Bay Area will spend billions adapting to climate change--it makes no sense at all to simultaneously invest in the corporations making that work necessary.”
Allowing global warming to proceed unchecked could have a devastating affect on the Bay Area. A recent report by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission found that a 55-inch sea level rise by the end of the century would put $62 billion of Bay Area shoreline development at risk and require at least $14 billion worth of static structures to protect California’s shorelines. (3)

The 200 fossil fuel companies targeted by Board of Supervisors resolution were chosen because they control the vast majority of the world’s coal, oil and gas reserves. According to top scientists and analysis by groups like the International Energy Agency, nearly 80% of those reserves must go unburned if the world is going to keep global warming below 2°C, a target that the United States and nearly every other country on Earth has agreed to meet. (4)

SFERS could face a potential financial risk by staying invested in the fossil fuel industry, according to a new report by market analysts at HSBC. According to the report, if countries agree to meet the 2°C target and pass regulations strong enough to keep 75-80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground, the write off of those reserves could cause loss in market value of up to 60% for fossil fuel companies like BP, Shell, and Chevron. (5)

On the other hand, according to a new report by the Aperio Group, a group of financial advisors based in Marin, fossil fuel divestment poses would increase portfolio risk by a roughly 0.01%. The report’s lead author, Patrick Geddes, told reporters on a recent webinar that, “Statistically, it’s basically noise.” (6)

After today’s vote, divestment advocates will be following up with the SFERS Retirement Board to make sure that it pursues the divestment goal in a timely and responsible manner, as well as continuing to educate San Francisco residents about the importance of the move. 

“This is a big victory today, but it’s just the beginning of our campaign here in California,” said Jamie Henn,’s Communications Director and a San Francisco resident. “We’re looking forward to extending this effort to cities across the state and supporting the growing student movement on campuses. We’ve financed the fossil fuel industry’s destruction long enough, it’s time to invest in the future.” 


1. SFERS latest financial report:
2. Go Fossil Free campaign website:
3. Sea level rise report:
4. Article on IEA report:
5. Article on HSBC report on fossil fuel reserves:
6. Article on Aperio Group report:

Wisconsin GOP illegally deletes files related to redistricting, six days after they had reached an agreement to hand them over to Democrats

by Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Magazine, April 19, 2013

Because we all could use a break, let's check in on the latest news from the midwest subsidiary of Koch Industries formerly known as the state of Wisconsin.

As Democrats were seeking access to Republican redistricting files last year, hundreds of thousands of computer files were deleted from state computers used by GOP aides, according to documents filed Thursday in federal court in Milwaukee. Democratic plaintiffs alleged in the court filing that six days after an agreement for Republicans to hand over files used to draw new legislative districts, someone logged in as a Republican aide deleted hundreds of thousands of redistricting files from one of the computers. The following week, redistricting documents were handed over to Democrats. "The meaning of this . . . cannot be known unless and until the deleted files are recovered and reviewed," one of the filings said of the deletions. The plaintiffs are seeking to have the state pay the more than $100,000 expense of the costly computer review needed to recover the deleted files.

What a terribly inconvenient accident to have happened!

Wait, no.

The case holds high stakes for GOP lawmakers and Michael Best & Friedrich, the firm they hired to help draw the new legislative lines. The federal judges in the case have been critical of the way the firm handled the case, at one point ordering lawyers there to pay about $17,500 because they had filed frivolous motions in attempts to block the release of documents. Every 10 years, states must draw new maps for legislative and congressional districts to account for population changes. Republicans controlled all of Wisconsin's government in 2011, and they used their power to draw lines that were greatly beneficial to their party and those districts were largely upheld after a group of Democrats and the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera sued over them.

Don't sleep on Wisconsin. It's the lab rat for everything else they want to do.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Syngenta Pesticides Kill Bees [neonicotinoid pesticides]

Greenpeace Switzerland, April 22, 2013

With the help of local activists, on April 17, Greenpeace Switzerland scaled the building at Syngenta’s headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, and dropped a large banner proclaiming “Syngenta Pesticides Kill Bees.” The global agrochemical company consistently denies that its pesticide products kill bees. For the last 15 years, in Europe and North America bees are dying at an alarming extent. Depending on the year and region, the mortality of bee colonies is up 53%.
© Greenpeace 2013 / Michael Würtenberg
Syngenta’s products Actara and Cruiser contain the active ingredient thiamethoxam—a neonicotinoid—one of the pesticides most harmful to bees. With an annual turnover of $14.2 billion, Syngenta is the world’s biggest seller of pesticides—neonicotinoids representing around 10% of total sales. Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine. They are used for seed dressing or sprayed directly on the plant. Extensive studies of the European Authority for Food Safety Authority and a recently published Greenpeace study shows that a small dose means acute poisoning to bees, leading to flight and navigation problems, fertility issues and inefficient and reduced foraging—making colonies more prone to illness or parasites.
Bees are crucial for our survival. At least one-third of global food production depends on pollination by bees and other insects. In addition to parasites, diseases, climate change and a decline in natural habitats from industrial agricultural practices—the use of pesticides is responsible for the devastating decline of bee populations worldwide.
Countries across Europe have already begun implementing the prohibition against bee-killing pesticides. In France, Germany, Slovenia and Italy, these toxins have been partially banned for years and have seen evidence of recovering bee populations without yield loss. While the European Commission is apparently willing to adopt far-reaching restrictions despite massive resistance from the industry, the Swiss government remains passive as Agriculture Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann appears to be intimidated by threats from Syngenta.
“Syngenta must stop spreading untruths. Syngenta responds to profit instead of to the protection of bees,” said Marianne Künzle, agricultural expert at Greenpeace Switzerland. “The dramatic death of wild bees and honey bees is a symptom of misguided industrial agriculture, which serves mainly the interests of powerful corporations like Syngenta. It must stop now. As the agriculture minister, Schneider-Ammann is required to address this issue. Protect our bees and agriculture—Prohibit bee killing pesticides!”
In February, Greenpeace Switzerland was joined by beekeepers from all over in Bern, Switzerland, and presented a petition of 80,000 signatures to protect the bees.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Andrew Glikson: Another link between CO2 and mass extinctions of species

by Andrew Glikson, The Conversation, March 22, 2013

It’s long been known that massive increases in emission of CO2 from volcanoes, associated with the opening of the Atlantic Ocean in the end-Triassic Period, set off a shift in state of the climate which caused global mass extinction of species, eliminating about 34% of genera. The extinction created ecological niches which allowed the rise of dinosaurs during the Triassic, about 250200 million years ago.

New research released this morning in Science Express has refined the dating of this wave of volcanism. It shows marine and land species disappear from the fossil record within 20,000 to 30,000 years from the time evidence for the eruption of large magma flows appears, approximately 201 million years ago. These volcanic eruptions increased atmospheric CO2 and increased ocean acidity.

Mass extinctions due to rapidly escalating levels of CO2 are recorded since as long as 580 million years ago. As our anthropogenic global emissions of CO2 are rising, at a rate for which no precedence is known from the geological record with the exception of asteroid impacts, another wave of extinctions is unfolding.

Mass extinctions of species in the history of Earth include:
  • the ~580 million years-old (Ma) Acraman impact (South Australia) and Acrytarch (ancient palynomorphs) extinction and radiation
  • Late Devonian (~374 Ma) volcanism, peak global temperatures and mass extinctions
  • the end-Devonian impact cluster associated with mass extinction, which among others destroyed the Kimberley Fitzroy reefs (~360 Ma)
  • the upper Permian (~267 Ma) extinction associated with a warming trend
  • the Permian-Triassic boundary volcanic and asteroid impact events (~ 251 Ma) and peak warming
  • the End-Triassic (201 Ma) opening of the Atlantic Ocean, and massive volcanism
  • an End-Jurassic (~145 Ma) impact cluster and opening of the Indian Ocean
  • the CretaceousTertiary boundary (K-T) (~65 Ma) impact cluster, Deccan volcanic activity and mass extinction
  • the pre-EoceneOligocene boundary (~34 Ma) impact cluster and a cooling trend, followed by opening of the Drake Passage between Antarctica and South America, formation of the Antarctic ice sheet and minor extinction at ~34 Ma.
Throughout the Phanerozoic (from 542 million years ago), major mass extinctions of species closely coincided with abrupt rises of atmospheric carbon dioxide and ocean acidity. These increases took place at rates to which many species could not adapt. These events – triggered by asteroid impacts, massive volcanic activity, eruption of methane, ocean anoxia and extreme rates of glaciation (see Figures 1 and 2) – have direct implications for the effects of the current rise of CO2.

Click on graphs to enlarge.

Figure 1. Trends in atmospheric CO2 and related glacial and interglacial periods since the Cambrian (542 million years ago), showing peaks in CO2 levels (green diamonds) associated with asteroid impacts and/or massive volcanism. CO2 data from Royer (2004 and 2006).

Figure 2. Relations between CO2 rise rates and mean global temperature rise rates during warming periods, including the PaleoceneEocene Thermal Maximum, early Oligocene, mid-Miocene, late Pliocene, Eemian (glacial termination), DansgaardOeschger cycles, Medieval Warming Period, 17502012 and 19752012 periods.

In February 2013, CO2 levels had risen to near 396.80 ppm at Mauna Loa Atmospheric Observatory, compared to 393.54 ppm in February 2012. This rise (3.26 ppm per year) is at the highest rate yet recorded. Further measurements show CO2 is at near 400 ppm of the atmosphere over the Arctic. At this rate the upper stability threshold of the Antarctic ice sheet, defined at about 500–600 ppm CO2 would be reached later this century (although hysteresis of the ice sheets may slow down melting).

Our global carbon reserves (including coal, oil, oil shale, tar sands, gas and coal-seam gas) contain considerably more than 10,000 billion tonnes of carbon (see Figure 5). This amount of carbon, if released into the atmosphere, is capable of raising atmospheric CO2 levels to higher than 1,000 ppm. Such a rise in atmospheric radiative forcing will be similar to that of the PaleoceneEocene boundary thermal maximum (PETM), which happened about 55 million years ago (see Figures 1, 2 and 4). But the rate of rise surpasses those of this thermal maximum by about ten times.

Figure 3. Plot of percent mass extinction of genera versus peak atmospheric CO2 levels at several stages of Earth history.

Figure 4. The PaleoceneEocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) represented by sediments in the Southern Ocean, central Pacific and South Atlantic oceans. The data indicate: (a) deposition of an organic matter-rich layer consequent on extinction of marine organisms, (b) lowering of δ18O values representing an increase in temperature, and (c) a sharp decline in carbonate contents of sediments representing a decrease in pH and increase in acidity (Zachos et al. 2008).

The PaleoceneEocene boundary thermal maximum event about 55 million years ago saw the release of approximately 2,0003,000 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere in the form of methane (CH4). It led to the extinction of about 3550% of benthic foraminifera (see Figures 3 and 4), representing a major decline in the state of the marine ecosystem. The temperature rise and ocean acidity during this event are shown in Figures 4 and 6.

Based on the amount of carbon already emitted and which could continue to be released to the atmosphere (see Figure 5), current climate trends could be tracking toward conditions like those of the PaleoceneEocene event. Many species may be unable to adapt to the extreme rate of current rise in greenhouse gases and temperatures. The rapid opening of the Arctic Sea ice, melting of Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets, and rising spate of floods, heat waves, fires and other extreme weather events may signify a shift in the state of the climate, crossing tipping points.

Figure 5. CO2 emissions from fossil fuels (2.12 GtC ~ 1 ppm CO2). Estimated reserves and potentially recoverable resources.

By analogy to medical science analysing blood count as diagnosis for cancer, climate science uses the greenhouse gas levels of the atmosphere, pH levels of the ocean, variations in solar insolation, aerosol concentrations, clouding states at different levels of the atmosphere, state of the continental ice sheets and sea ice, position of high pressure ridges and climate zones and many other parameters to determine trends in the climate. The results of these tests, conducted by thousands of peer-reviewed scientists world-wide, have to date been ignored, at the greatest peril to humanity and nature.

Continuing emissions contravene international laws regarding crimes against humanity and related International and Australian covenants. In the absence of an effective global mitigation effort, governments world-wide are now presiding over the demise of future generations and of nature, tracking toward one of the greatest mass extinction events nature has seen. It is time we learned from the history of planet Earth.

Figure 6. The PaleoceneEocene boundary thermal maximum.

Andrew Glikson does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation
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Peter Sinclair: Pesky Reality Intrudes in Denierville (again). Danish Ice Maps from the 30s.

by Peter Sinclair, Climate Denial Crock of the Week, April 11, 2013

I bumped into some of these sea ice maps squirreled away on a dusty corner of my HD,  on my way to researching this week’s video,   and it occurred to me this would make a good post. Checking around, I see Neven already had it covered some time ago. 

Nevertheless, people should know about these very valuable historical documents –Danish Sea Ice Maps from the early 20th century. [Readers, these maps are amazing.  Go to the link and find the publication from 1907 and check out September!]

I’m supposed to be on a holiday and should let this one slide, but it’s too much. I was expecting fake skeptics to remain mostly silent in face of the ice massacre up north, but apparently they acutely sense how big this blow is to the remaining shred of their credibility, and so they upped the ante of misleading and distorting stupidity. Anyone can see and judge the silliness of paid shill Marc Morano, 5-sentence posts regurgitator/vomiter Steve Goddard and of course WUWT. But this Sunday Times article, written by well-known pseudo-journalist Jonathan Leake (search for his name on Deltoid) had a quote by presumed scientist John Christy that really got my hackles up:
Professor John Christy director of the Earth System Science Centre at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said the Arctic had indeed warmed, but there was also anecdotal and other evidence suggesting similar melts from 1938-43 and on other occasions. 
“Climate change is a murky science,” he said. “To some it’s an easy answer to say it’s due to extra green house gasses. To the rest of us, separating natural variability from human impacts remains a wicked problem.”
Commenters over at Skeptical Science quickly took this nonsense apart. First FrankD:

Danske Meteorologiske Institut published a series of annual reports on arctic sea ice covering most years from 1893 to 1956. The link has one folder per year, with each containing individual pages (month identified by the trailing digit) and the whole annual report (about 5 meg each). 
Just referring to August extent… 
Its true that ice extent was lower in the 1930s than it had been in the preceding 30 years. In particular, 1938 saw a dramatic reduction from the previous years – it was probably 1.4 M km^2 below the then long term average and maybe 0.6 M km^2 below the already low years in the late 30′s (carefully measured using Eyeball, Mk I). 
So, it is fair to say there were some big melts in the 30s. But Christy’s false equivalence is an epic fail – “similar melts” is pretty nice weasel-wording for mine. 1.4 M km^2 below recent climatology? Considered like that, 1938 was like 2010, I guess. 
But in absolute terms, August 1938 extent was much greater (4 M km^2?) than today. So any attempt to conflate the two is…well…I can[‘t think of an adjective suitable for polite company. 
Taking the Kinnard graphic (below) – the 1930s' “similar melt” is the second last dip on the graph, the first decline with modern observational data. This saw a return to “normal” after a peak that had seen the greatest extents in 500 years. 
Compared to the current decline on Kinnard (even without “enhancement”)? Well, even on Sesame Street they could tell you when one of these things was not like the other…
And then Daniel Bailey posted two graphs: 
1. Arctic Sea Ice Extent August 1938 (see top of post).

2. Arctic Sea Ice Extent August 2012 (see below). 

My question to Dr. Christy: Why do you lie?