The first week of October, a record breaking heat wave engaged the central states, and the southern and eastern seaboards of the United States.
The last weekend of September, a massive snowstorm occurred in the Rockies, bringing up to four feet of snow in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and the state of Washington, according to the National Weather Service.
The past five months have seen an advance in the global uptick of extreme weather. In May, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory reported a concentration of carbon dioxide (415 parts per million) in the atmosphere, the highest in human history. One of the many ancillary effects of this is an additional 8% atmospheric water vapor retention, another record. Eighteen of the 19 warmest years on record have occurred since the year 2000. June and July were the warmest the planet has ever had since man started keeping records in 1880.
A heat wave this past July through August decimated the European continent. Topping at 118 degrees in Paris, multiple wildfires raged from Greece to Portugal for the third year in a row, and there were tornadoes in Spain, Amsterdam, and Luxembourg (really?). Cyclones, tropical rains and a drought with an encephalitis outbreak occurred in India, Nepal and Indonesia. This was all followed by a withering heat wave. Simultaneously, a typhoon, followed by a three-week heat wave, resulted in a swine flu outbreak that ravaged southeastern China. Siberian wildfires, coupled with record rains and heat, slammed Russia.
This brings us to one of the planet’s big three life indicators (the Arctic, Antarctic and the Amazon). The Amazon rainforest is an ever life zone, a repository for life on earth. The rainforest, which has existed for a few billion years, is on the brink of collapse. The rainforest, the lungs of our planet, takes 30% of the carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere and gives the world 20% of its oxygen. With its life diversity of plants, insects (millions), reptiles and amphibians, the Amazon contains about 40,000 plant species, 1,300 bird species, 3,000 types of fish, 430 mammals, and 2.4 million different species of insects, according to the World Wildlife Federation. That is about one third of the world’s life forms.
“Arctic wildfires” is a phrase you don’t hear very often. The 2019 wildfire in the Arctic was brought on by human activity. The 121 megatons of CO2 that were locked up in the earth’s crust for millennia is back in the atmosphere, caused by the ignition of the dried out permafrost, according to a report by the Imperial College of London. The Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska, contains 16.7 million acres of temperate old growth forest. Some of these trees are more than 1,000 years old. Most are several centuries old. It has the greatest biodiversity and is the number one depository for carbon storage in North America. It is one of the last pristine spawning areas for salmon and rare bird, plant, and animal life.
President Donald J. Trump wants to clear cut the forest down to nothing, so insiders can make big-time profits from public lands on timber, and possibly minerals (mining), and oil and gas.
The forest may be slow and quiet. But it does good (and necessary) things for our planet.
The White House rollback of the Endangered Species Act went into effect Sept. 26 of this year. A United Nations report released in Geneva in August, prepared by more than 100 experts in 52 countries, stated that the world’s land and water are being exploited “at unprecedented rates” by pesticides and fertilizers, putting huge pressure on humanity’s ability to feed itself. That is why it is a mystery why the Trump administration, in June, approved the pesticide sulfoxaflor, a known dangerous chemical for bees. Without sulfoxaflor, 40% of bee colonies were lost last year to colonial collapse disease. The Agriculture Department has recently suspended data collection for its honey bee colony survey. Sulfoxaflor threatens bee reproduction.
Three years ago Albert Einstein’s gravitational theory was confirmed by scientists. Then, on April 11, 2019, MIT and Harvard’s Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics released a picture of a black hole, a clean confirmation of such a theoretical explanation, right down to the symmetrical shape that Einstein had predicted.
Using a super computer and an algorithm tasked to process peta-bytes of data, equivalent to a million gigabytes, hundreds of scientists globally, worked on the project. This brought Einstein’s gravitational and black hole confirmation “to light.” When Einstein formulated his theories in 1901-1903, he used his head and a pencil. To relax, as a sideline, he studied the humble, noble, honey bee. He came to the vivid conclusion, “If honey bees become extinct, human society will follow in four years.”
Joseph F. Doyle is a freelance writer based in Salem.