Ecofeminism

French feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne coined the term “ecofeminism” in 1974 for a new branch of feminism that focused on ecology, the study of the interactions between organisms and their environment. It holds that the domination and degradation of nature and the exploitation and oppression of women have significant connections.

Several environmental disasters in the US—most notably the 1979 near meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania—brought 600 women together in 1980 for “Women and Life on Earth,” the first ecofeminist conference. Held in Massachusetts during the spring equinox, the conference explored the links between feminism, militarization, healing, and ecology. Ecofeminism was defined as a “women-identified movement” that sees Earth’s devastation and the threat of nuclear annihilation as feminist concerns because they are underpinned by the same “masculinist mentality” that oppresses women. Ecofeminism holds that women have a special role to play in protecting the environment and campaigning against damage to the planet.

As ecofeminism developed, it began to splinter into different approaches, one of which is sometimes described as cultural ecofeminism. This strand is rooted in spirituality, goddess worship, and nature-based religions. Its adherents, including American writer and activist Starhawk (Miriam Simos), argue that women have an intrinsic kinship with the natural environment, and, as instinctive carers, should be at the forefront of its protection. Other feminists criticize this approach for reinforcing gender stereotypes, claiming women’s moral superiority, and taking little account of class, race, or the economic exploitation of resources.

Sources: The Feminism Book (DK)

John Muir

John Muir was born April 21, 1838 also known as “John of the Mountains”, was an American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, glaciologist and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books describing his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada, have been read by millions. His activism has helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and many other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is a prominent American conservation organization. The 211-mile (340 km) John Muir Trail, a hiking trail in the Sierra Nevada, was named in his honor. Other such places include Muir Woods National Monument, Muir Beach, John Muir College, Mount Muir, Camp Muir and Muir Glacier. In Scotland, the John Muir Way, a 130-mile-long route, was named in honor of him.

In his later life, Muir devoted most of his time to the preservation of the Western forests. He petitioned the U.S. Congress for the National Park bill that was passed in 1890, establishing Yosemite National Park. The spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in his writings has inspired readers, including presidents and congressmen, to take action to help preserve large nature areas. Today Muir is referred to as the “Father of the National Parks” and the National Park Service has produced a short documentary about his life.

John Muir has been considered “an inspiration to both Scots and Americans”. Muir’s biographer, Steven J. Holmes, believes that Muir has become “one of the patron saints of twentieth-century American environmental activity,” both political and recreational. As a result, his writings are commonly discussed in books and journals, and he is often quoted by nature photographers such as Ansel Adams. “Muir has profoundly shaped the very categories through which Americans understand and envision their relationships with the natural world,” writes Holmes. Muir was noted for being an ecological thinker, political spokesman, and religious prophet, whose writings became a personal guide into nature for countless individuals, making his name “almost ubiquitous” in the modern environmental consciousness. According to author William Anderson, Muir exemplified “the archetype of our oneness with the earth”, while biographer Donald Worster says he believed his mission was “…saving the American soul from total surrender to materialism.” On April 21, 2013, the first ever John Muir Day was celebrated in Scotland, which marked the 175th anniversary of his birth, paying homage to the conservationist.

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
~ John Muir

Pine Island Glacier Reaching Tipping Point

Researchers have confirmed for the first time that Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica could cross tipping points, leading to a rapid and irreversible retreat which would have significant consequences for global sea level.

Pine Island Glacier is a region of fast-flowing ice draining an area of West Antarctica approximately two thirds the size of the UK. The glacier is a particular cause for concern as it is losing more ice than any other glacier in Antarctica.

Currently, Pine Island Glacier together with its neighbouring Thwaites glacier are responsible for about 10% of the ongoing increase in global sea level.

Scientists have argued for some time that this region of Antarctica could reach a tipping point and undergo an irreversible retreat from which it could not recover. Such a retreat, once started, could lead to the collapse of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which contains enough ice to raise global sea level by over three metres.

While the general possibility of such a tipping point within ice sheets has been raised before, showing that Pine Island Glacier has the potential to enter unstable retreat is a very different question.

Now, researchers from Northumbria University have shown, for the first time, that this is indeed the case.

Their findings are published in leading journal, The Cryosphere.

Using a state-of-the-art ice flow model developed by Northumbria’s glaciology research group, the team have developed methods that allow tipping points within ice sheets to be identified.

For Pine Island Glacier, their study shows that the glacier has at least three distinct tipping points. The third and final event, triggered by ocean temperatures increasing by 1.2C, leads to an irreversible retreat of the entire glacier.

Sources: Phys.org

Firetip (Pyrrhopyge thericles)

Firetip (Pyrrhopyge thericles): Often known as the “Red Hot Cat” this caterpillar is of a Black winged Butterfly species from South America. The black body and wings are often with a bronze-green or deep blue lustre, spotted red on the head and abdomen. The larvae are haired on the body, shaggily on the head, brown or reddish with yellow, zebra-like stripes. They live on different trees, notably on guava pear-trees.

📸: Ken Myers in Brazil.

Arctic Permafrost Releases More Carbon Dioxide Than Once Believed

Rising global temperatures are causing frozen Arctic soil— permafrost—in the northern hemisphere to thaw and release CO2 that has been stored within it for thousands of years. The amount of carbon stored in permafrost is estimated to be four times greater than the combined amount of CO2 emitted by modern humans.

Research results from an international team, which includes a researcher from the University of Copenhagen among others, suggests that the newly discovered phenomenon will release even larger quantities of CO2 than once supposed from organic matter in permafrost—a pool of carbon previously thought to be bound tightly and safely sequestered by iron.

The amount of stored carbon that is bound to iron and gets converted to CO2 when released is estimated to be somewhere between two and five times the amount of carbon released annually through anthropogenic fossil fuel emissions.

Iron doesn’t bind organic carbon after all

Researchers have long been aware that microorganisms play a key role in the release of CO2 as permafrost melts. Microorganisms activated as soil thaws convert dead plants and other organic material into greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.

What is new, is that the mineral iron was believed to bind carbon even as permafrost thawed. The new result demonstrates that bacteria incapacitate iron’s carbon trapping ability, resulting in the release of vast amounts of CO2. This is an entirely new discovery.

“What we see is that bacteria simply use iron minerals as a food source. As they feed, the bonds which had trapped carbon are destroyed and it is released into the atmosphere as greenhouse gas,” explains Associate Professor Carsten W. Müller of the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management. He elaborates:

“Frozen soil has a high oxygen content, which keeps iron minerals stable and allows carbon to bind to them. But as soon as the ice melts and turns to water, oxygen levels drop and the iron becomes unstable. At the same time, the melted ice permits access to bacteria. As a whole, this is what releases stored carbon as CO2,” explains Müller.

The study has just been published in Nature Communications.

Absent from climate models

Although the researchers have only studied a single bog area in Abisko, northern Sweden, they have compared their results with data from other parts the northern hemisphere and expect their new results to also be valid in other areas of permafrost worldwide.

“This means that we have a large new source of CO2 emissions that needs to be included in climate models and more closely examined,” says Carsten W. Müller.

Even though carbon stored in permafrost has a major impact on our climate, researchers know very little about the mechanisms that determine whether carbon in soil is converted into greenhouse gases.

“The majority of climate research in the Arctic focuses on the amount of stored carbon and how sensitive it is to climate change. There is a great deal less of a focus on the deeper mechanisms which trap carbon in soil,” says Carsten W. Müller.

Researchers remain uncertain about how much extra carbon from soil could potentially be released through this newly discovered mechanism. Closer investigation is needed.

Source: University of Copenhagen

Green New Deal Polling

Green New Deal Polling:

Green New Deal Very General Summary: The proposal would achieve net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by creating millions of green jobs and investing in a new, clean-energy infrastructure.

Research shows that age strongly predicts support for the Green New Deal, even controlling for several variables like party, ideology, and race. One wonders if this is because young people, unlike older generations, must contemplate living through the worst effects of climate change a few decades down the line.

Polling Question: “Would you support or oppose a Green New Deal to end fossil fuel use in the United States and have the government create clean energy jobs? The plan would be paid for by raising taxes, including a tax on carbon emissions.”

Reference: Millennials as ages 18–37, Generation X as 38–53, baby boomers as 54–72, and Silent as 72 or older.

Note: “Data For Progress” who conducted the poll is a progressive think tank.

#GreenNewDeal #ClimateChange

Today in Science —> Alfred Wegener

1912 – German geophysicist Alfred Wegener first presents his theory of continental drift.

Wegener’s theory was poo-pooed for a long time, but was finally accepted by 1960, 30 years after Wegener’s death. Now, using satellites, we can measure how fast the continents move. We know, for example, that Europe and North America are moving apart at about the same rate your fingernails grow: about an inch a year.

Greenland Ice Sheet Melt

Greenland Ice Sheet Melt:

Researchers reconstructed the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet by comparing estimates of the amount of ice that has been discharged into the ocean with the accumulation of snowfall in the drainage basins in the country’s interior for the past 46 years. The researchers found that the rate of ice loss has increased sixfold since then — even faster than scientists thought.

Since 1972, ice loss from Greenland alone has added 13.7 millimeters (about half an inch) to the global sea level, the study estimates. The island’s ice sheet is the leading source of water added to the ocean every year. A study published in December that looked at ice core samples found that Greenland’s ice sheets have been melting at an “unprecedented rate” over the past couple decades, about 50% higher than pre-industrial levels and 33% above levels in the 20th century. Greenland’s ice sheets contain enough water to raise global sea levels by 23 feet, research shows.

If this year is any indication, the ice melt trend is sure to continue. The summer melt season has already started in Greenland, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center — more than a month ahead of schedule. Without serious efforts to curb carbon emissions and slow climate change, ice loss could become a much bigger problem for the country and the world.

Forty percent to 50% of the planet’s population is in cities that are vulnerable to sea rise and is bad news for places like New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Mumbai.

“As glaciers will continue to speed up and ice/snow melt from the top, we can foresee a continuous increase in the rate of mass loss, and a contribution to sea level rise that will continue to increase more rapidly every year.”
~ Eric Rignot, professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine.

Source: CNN & National Academy of Sciences

IPCC Report on Global Warming

IPCC REPORT ON GLOBAL WARMING:

The IPCC is an intergovernmental panel on climate change a group of scientists convened by the united nations to make recommendations to world leaders. Ninety-one leading scientists from 40 countries who together examined more than 6,000 scientific studies. Specialists such as Katharine Mach, who studies new approaches to climate assessment at stanford university; Tor Arve Benjaminsen, a human geographer at the Norwegian university of life sciences; and Raman Sukumar, an ecologist at the indian institute of science.

TITLE OF REPORT: “Global warming of 1.5 °c. An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °c above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty”

Scientists who reviewed the 6,000 works referenced in the report, said the change caused by just half a degree came as a revelation. We can see there is a difference and it’s substantial.

At 1.5c the proportion of the global population exposed to water stress could be 50% lower than at 2c, it notes. Food scarcity would be less of a problem and hundreds of millions fewer people, particularly in poor countries, would be at risk of climate-related poverty.

At 2c extremely hot days, such as those experienced in the northern hemisphere this summer, would become more severe and common, increasing heat-related deaths and causing more forest fires.

But the greatest difference would be to nature. Insects, which are vital for pollination of crops, and plants are almost twice as likely to lose half their habitat at 2c compared with 1.5c. Corals would be 99% lost at the higher of the two temperatures, but more than 10% have a chance of surviving if the lower target is reached.

This quote summarizes:

“The IPCC maps out four pathways to achieve 1.5c, with different combinations of land use and technological change. Reforestation is essential to all of them as are shifts to electric transport systems and greater adoption of carbon capture technology.”

~ Jonathan Watts, global environment editor at “The Guardian”

#ipcc #climatechange #actnow #sciencegeek