6/23/2015

Planetary Meltdown From Formerly Frozen Methane


Our planet is changing at blinding speed toward a state of existence that will no longer support life. If there is not a complete course correction in regard to human activity, total near term global extinction is a mathematical certainty. Industrialized/militarized civilization has virtually no regard for the natural world, it has no regard for the miraculous life support systems of our once thriving biosphere. There is one form of anthropogenic activity that stands out above all others as the epitome of human insanity, climate engineering
 
aerosol spraying
 
Our planet is in total meltdown, the ongoing global geoengineering programs are making the situation far worse, not better. Rapidly thawing global methane deposits will very soon determine our collective fate if the releases continue.
 
 fire
 
 
Methane leak
As formerly frozen methane hydrate/clathrate deposits on sea and lake beds thaw, the methane migrates to the surface where it can be temporarily trapped in the ice. As global ice deposits melt and recede, more and more methane reaches the atmosphere. In the photo below, methane is temporarily trapped in the ice.
abraham-lake-1
 
A recent and extremely alarming phenomenon has been occurring in Siberia. Thawing permafrost  is also releasing vast amounts of methane. In some regions subsurface pressure buildup from releasing methane has created massive methane blowholes.
 
siberian-hole
 
Atmospheric methane is virtually skyrocketing past pre-industrial levels. As methane releases, it fuels "climate feedback loops" that trigger even more methane release.
 
methane chart
 
The warming and thawing of methane deposits is now so profound that extremely alarming releases are now occurring in regions where such phenomenon has never been seen before. The 30 second video below is one example, this incident has just occurred in Ontario, Canada
 

Industrialized civilization in its current form has done horrific damage to Earth and is the primary contributor to the runaway warming that is now occurring. Climate engineering is the pinnacle of industrialized insanity and is fueling the overall planetary meltdown, not mitigating it. If we remain on the current course, "Venus Syndrome" will be the final destination. We must all summon our courage and make every effort to raise critical and credible awareness of our common plight. 


Geo Engineering Watch
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6/20/2015

Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction Has Begun, New Study Confirms


We are currently witnessing the start of a mass extinction event the likes of which have not been seen on Earth for at least 65 million years. This is the alarming finding of a new study published in the journal Science Advances.
The research was designed to determine how human actions over the past 500 years have affected the extinction rates of vertebrates: mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians. It found a clear signal of elevated species loss which has markedly accelerated over the past couple of hundred years, such that life on Earth is embarking on its sixth greatest extinction event in its 3.5 billion year history.
This latest research was conducted by an international team lead by Gerardo Ceballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Measuring extinction rates is notoriously hard. Recently I reported on some of the fiendishly clever ways such rates have been estimated. These studies are producing profoundly worrying results.
However, there is always the risk that such work overestimates modern extinction rates because they need to make a number of assumptions given the very limited data available. Ceballos and his team wanted to put a floor on these numbers, to establish extinction rates for species that were very conservative, with the understanding that whatever the rate of species lost has actually been, it could not be any lower.
This makes their findings even more significant because even with such conservative estimates they find extinction rates are much, much higher than the background rate of extinction – the rate of species loss in the absence of any human impacts.
Here again, they err on the side of caution. A number of studies have attempted to estimate the background rate of extinction. These have produced upper values of about one out of every million species being lost each year. Using recent work by co-author Anthony Barnosky, they effectively double this background rate and so assume that two out of every million species will disappear through natural causes each year. This should mean that differences between the background and human driven extinction rates will be smaller. But they find that the magnitude of more recent extinctions is so great as to effectively swamp any natural processes.

Cumulative vertebrate species recorded as extinct or extinct in the wild by the IUCN (2012). Dashed black line represents background rate. This is the ‘highly conservative estimate’. Ceballos et al
The “very conservative estimate” of species loss uses International Union of Conservation of Nature data. This contains documented examples of species becoming extinct. They use the same data source to produce the “conservative estimate” which includes known extinct species and those species believed to be extinct or extinct in the wild.
The paper has been published in an open access journal and I would recommend reading it and the accompanying Supplementary Materials. This includes the list of vertebrate species known to have disappeared since the year 1500. The Latin names for these species would be familiar only to specialists, but even the common names are exotic and strange: the Cuban coney, red-bellied gracile, broad-faced potoroo and southern gastric brooding frog.

Farewell, broad-faced potoroo, we hardly knew ye. John Gould
These particular outer branches of the great tree of life now stop. Some of their remains will be preserved, either as fossils in layers of rocks or glass eyed exhibits in museum cabinets. But the Earth will no longer see them scurry or soar, hear them croak or chirp.
You may wonder to what extent does this matter? Why should we worry if the natural process of extinction is amplified by humans and our expanding industrialised civilisation?
One response to this question essentially points out what the natural world does for us. Whether it’s pollinating our crops, purifying our water, providing fish to eat or fibres to weave, we are dependent on biodiveristy. Ecosystems can only continue to provide things for us if they continue to function in approximately the same way.
The relationship between species diversity and ecosystem function is very complex and not well understood. There may be gradual and reversible decreases in function with decreased biodiversity. There may be effectively no change until a tipping point occurs. The analogy here is popping out rivets from a plane’s wing. The aircraft will fly unimpaired if a few rivets are removed here or there, but to continue to remove rivets is to move the system closer to catastrophic failure.
This latest research tells us what we already knew. Humans have in the space of a few centuries swung a wrecking ball through the Earth’s biosphere. Liquidating biodiversity to produce products and services has an end point. Science is starting to sketch out what that end point could look like but it cannot tell us why to stop before we reach it.
If we regard the Earth as nothing more than a source of resources and a sink for our pollution, if we value other species only in terms of what they can provide to us, then we we will continue to unpick the fabric of life. Remove further rivets from spaceship earth. This not only increases the risk that it will cease to function in the ways that we and future generations will depend on, but can only reduce the complexity and beauty of our home in the cosmos.

IFL Science
The Conversation
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6/09/2015

New Giant Volcano Below Sea Is Largest in the World

A 3-D map of the Tamu Massif formation, which scientists now say is one huge shield volcano
A volcano the size of New Mexico or the British Isles has been identified under the Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) east of Japan, making it the biggest volcano on Earth and one of the biggest in the solar system.
Called Tamu Massif, the giant shield volcano had been thought to be a composite of smaller structures, but now scientists say they must rethink long-held beliefs about marine geology.
“This finding goes against what we thought, because we found that it’s one huge volcano,” said William Sager, a geology professor at the University of Houston in Texas. Sager is lead author in a study about the find that was published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience.
“It is in the same league as Olympus Mons on Mars, which had been considered to be the largest volcano in the solar system,” Sager told National Geographic.
Tamu Massif is a rounded dome that measures about 280 by 400 miles (450 by 650 kilometers), or more than 100,000 square miles. Its top lies about 6,500 feet (about 2,000 meters) below the ocean surface, while the base extends down to about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) deep. Tamu Massif dwarfs the largest active volcano on Earth, Mauna Loa in Hawaii, which measures about 2,000 square miles (5,200 square kilometers).
Made of basalt, Tamu Massif is the oldest and largest feature of an oceanic plateau called the Shatsky Rise in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. The total area of the rise is similar to Japan or California.
Sager started studying Tamu Massif about 20 years ago. He named it Tamu Massif because Tamu is short for Texas A&M University, where the scientist worked at the time; massif is French for “massive” and is a scientific term for a large mountain.
Scientists had known about the Shatsky Rise since the early 20th century, when it was first mapped, he explained. “We knew it was a big mountain range, but we didn’t know what the structure was like or how it formed,” said Sager.
He added that Tamu Massif is different from classic seamounts, the volcanoes that protrude off the ocean floor around the world by the tens of thousands. Tamu Massif is much larger, with a much more gentle slope than classic seamounts, Sager said.

Near the summit of Tamu Massif, the slope is only around one degree, he said. Down the flank the slope is half a degree, and it’s even less than that near the base. (The average slope of a staircase is 40 degrees, and an easy ski slope is about 10 degrees.) ”If you were standing on the massif, you would have a hard time knowing which way is down,” said Sager.
Finding an Unusual Structure
Scientists had thought the giant Shatsky Rise formed over time as a composite of several volcanoes that grew together, in a process similar to the way the big island of Hawaii was made by the outpourings of five separate volcanoes that were in close proximity.
But when Sager and colleagues looked at seismic data of Tamu Massif, they were surprised at what they found.
“We saw what appear to be lava flows going out from the center of the volcano in all directions, with no obvious large secondary source of volcanism, so that was a surprise,” Sager said.
The team also performed geochemical analysis on core samples taken from the massif. They found that the huge structure appeared to be made out of the same rock, of the same age.
So the scientists concluded that Tamu Massif was created by a single volcano, and probably over a relatively short period of time of a few million years. The volcano went “extinct,” meaning inactive, shortly after it formed, Saged added. That was probably in the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous period, about 145 million years ago.
“If what they are saying is correct, that is truly a massive volcano,” said Brian Jicha, a geologist at the University of Wisconsin who has received funding from National Geographic to study the formation of the Aleutian Islands.
“There are a lot of these oceanic plateaus, so if some of them really are just volcanoes, this paper might begin to change the way we think oceanic plateaus are built, and maybe even some of the continental basalt plateaus,” said Jicha, who was not involved in the study.
Sager agrees that more work is needed on other oceanic plateaus. “There could be around a dozen of these things out there,” he said about the possibility of more large shield volcanoes under the sea.
Sager noted that although Tamu Massif currently appears to be the largest single volcano on Earth, there are still larger volcanic complexes, such as the Siberian Traps, which may hold other mysteries. Those features were likely made up of molten rock from different sources, he said, unlike Tamu Massif's formation according to the new theory.
How Did the Volcano Form?
Sager said scientists are still trying to work out the details of how Tamu Massif formed.
He said it seems likely that the spot on the seafloor had the right mix of elements, including a boundary of three tectonic plates, thin crust, and a source of hot magma below that was able to bubble up to the surface. The molten rock poured out, and then built up a wide, gradual rise as it cooled.
Precisely how the magma made it to the surface is an open question. Perhaps a blob of the rock got superheated, and then rose to the surface due to buoyancy. Or, cracks in the overlying crust could have opened, allowing molten rock to spill out.
The next step will be more work to figure out what the source of the magma was, said Sager. He would like to go back and measure the magnetic properties of the rock, using a ship that is equipped with GPS. The data will give him a better idea how the lava spread out, he said.
Jicha added that “if it is indeed really one volcano, and the case is fairly compelling, the amount of magma that had to go through the lithosphere [crust] is off the charts.”
“Not only does [Tamu Massif] give us a new wow in the form of a giant new volcano, but it gives us new insight into a building block of an oceanic plateau,” said Sager.
He’s not sure if the new volcano will help scientists better understand Olympus Mons on Mars, but noted that “we can see the surface of Mars better than we can see the bottom of the ocean.”
Tamu Massif, he said, “has been hiding out for 145 million years because it found a good place to hide.”

National Geographic 
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5/28/2015

Unprecedented Mass Die Offs as Pacific Ocean “Turning Into a Desert” Off California Coast


It was the dying cry of Charlton Heston in the creepy 1973 film Soylent Green… and it could resemble our desperate near future.

The ocean is dying, by all accounts – and if so, the food supply along with it. The causes are numerous, and overlapping. And massive numbers of wild animal populations are dying as a result of it.

Natural causes in the environment are partly to blame; so too are the corporations of man; the effects of Fukushima, unleashing untold levels of radiation into the ocean and onto Pacific shores; the cumulative effect of modern chemicals and agricultural waste tainting the water and disrupting reproduction.

A startling new report says in no uncertain terms that the Pacific Ocean off the California coast is turning into a desert. Once full of life, it is now becoming barren, and marine mammals, seabirds and fish are starving as a result. According to Ocean Health:

The waters of the Pacific off the coast of California are a clear, shimmering blue today, so transparent it’s possible to see the sandy bottom below […] clear water is a sign that the ocean is turning into a desert, and the chain reaction that causes that bitter clarity is perhaps most obvious on the beaches of the Golden State, where thousands of emaciated sea lion pups are stranded.

[…]

Over the last three years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has noticed a growing number of strandings on the beaches of California and up into the Pacific north-west. In 2013, 1,171 sea lions were stranded, and 2,700 have already stranded in 2015 – a sign that something is seriously wrong, as pups don’t normally wind up on their own until later in the spring and early summe

“[An unusually large number of sea lions stranding in 2013 was a red flag] there was a food availability problem even before the ocean got warm.” Johnson: This has never happened before… It’s incredible. It’s so unusual, and there’s no really good explanation for it. There’s also a good chance that the problem will continue, said a NOAA research scientist in climatology, Nate Mantua.

Experts blame a lack of food due to unusually warm ocean waters. NOAA declared an El Nino, the weather pattern that warms the Pacific, a few weeks ago. The water is three and a half to six degrees warmer than the average, according to Mantua, because of a lack of north wind on the West Coast. Ordinarily, the north wind drives the current, creating upwelling that brings forth the nutrients that feed the sardines, anchovies and other fish that adult sea lions feed on.
Fox News added:
The warm water is likely pushing prime sea lion foods — market squid, sardines and anchovies — further north, forcing the mothers to abandon their pups for up to eight days at a time in search of sustenance.
The pups, scientists believe, are weaning themselves early out of desperation and setting out on their own despite being underweight and ill-prepared to hunt.
[…]
“These animals are coming in really desperate. They’re at the end of life. They’re in a crisis … and not all animals are going to make it,” said Keith A. Matassa, executive director at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which is currently rehabilitating 115 sea lion pups.
 The same is true of seabirds on the Washington State coast:

In the storm debris littering a Washington State shoreline, Bonnie Wood saw something grisly: the mangled bodies of dozens of scraggly young seabirds. Walking half a mile along the beach at Twin Harbors State Park on Wednesday, Wood spotted more than 130 carcasses of juvenile Cassin’s auklets—the blue-footed, palm-size victims of what is becoming one of the largest mass die-offs of seabirds ever recorded. “It was so distressing,” recalled Wood, a volunteer who patrols Pacific Northwest beaches looking for dead or stranded birds. “They were just everywhere. Every ten yards we’d find another ten bodies of these sweet little things.”
“This is just massive, massive, unprecedented,” said Julia Parrish, a University of Washington seabird ecologist who oversees the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST), a program that has tracked West Coast seabird deaths for almost 20 years. “We may be talking about 50,000 to 100,000 deaths. So far.” (source)
100,000 doesn’t necessarily sound large, statistically speaking, but precedent in the history of recorded animal deaths suggests that it is, in fact massive. Even National Geographic is noting that these die off events are “unprecedented.” Warmer water is indicated for much of the starvation faced by many of the dead animals.

Last year, scientists sounded the alarm over the death of millions of star fish, blamed on warmer waters and ‘mystery virus':
Starfish are dying by the millions up and down the West Coast, leading scientists to warn of the possibility of localized extinction of some species. As the disease spreads, researchers may be zeroing in on a link between warming waters and the rising starfish body count. (source)
[…]





The epidemic, which threatens to reshape the coastal food web and change the makeup of tide pools for years to come, appears to be driven by a previously unidentified virus, a team of more than a dozen researchers from Cornell University, UC Santa Cruz, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and other institutions reported Monday. (source)
Changing temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, driven by the natural cycle of gyres over decades, shifts wildlife populations, decimating the populations of species throughout the food chain, proving how fragile the balance of life in the ocean really is.

Recently, the collapse of the sardine population has created a crisis for fisheries and marine wildlife alike on the West Coast:
Commercial fishing for sardines off of Canada’s West Coast is worth an estimated $32 million – but now they are suddenly gone. Back in October, fisherman reported that they came back empty-handed without a single fish after 12 hours of trolling and some $1000 spent on fuel.
Sandy Mazza, for the Daily Breeze, reported a similar phenomenon in central California: “[T]he fickle sardines have been so abundant for so many years – sometimes holding court as the most plentiful fish in coastal waters – that it was a shock when he couldn’t find one of the shiny silver-blue coastal fish all summer, even though this isn’t the first time they’ve vanished.” [emphasis added]
[…]
“Is it El Nino? Pacific Decadal Oscillation? [La] Nina? Long-term climate change? More marine mammals eating sardines? Did they all go to Mexico or farther offshore? We don’t know. We’re pretty sure the overall population has declined. We manage them pretty conservatively because we don’t want to end up with another Cannery Row so, as the population declines, we curb fishing.” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) official Kerry Griffin. (source)
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the worst events have wiped out 90% of animal populations, falling short of extinction, but creating a rupture in food chains and ecosystems.

And environmental factors are known to contribute, with pollution from chemicals dumped by factories clearly tied to at least 20% of the mass die off events of wildlife populations that have been investigated, and many die-offs implicated by a number of overlapping factors. The Daily Mail reported:
Mass die-offs of certain animals has increased in frequency every year for seven decades, according to a new study.
Researchers found that such events, which can kill more than 90 per cent of a population, are increasing among birds, fish and marine invertebrates.
The reasons for the die-offs are diverse, with effects tied to humans such as environmental contamination accounting for about a fifth of them.
Farm runoff from Big Agra introduces high levels of fertilizers and pesticides which create oxygen-starved dead zones which fish and aquatic live is killed off. Also present in agriculture waste are gender-bending chemicals like those found in Atrazine, used in staple crop production, and antibiotics and hormones, used in livestock production, which creates hazardous runoff for fish populations:
Livestock excrete natural hormones – estrogens and testosterones – as well as synthetic ones used to bolster their growth. Depending on concentrations and fish sensitivity, these hormones and hormone mimics might impair wild fish reproduction or skew their sex ratios. (source)
 Pharmaceutical contaminants are also to blame for changing the sex of fish and disrupting population numbers, while a study found that the chemicals in Prozac changed the behavior of marine life, and made shrimp many times more likely to “commit suicide” and swim towards the light where they became easy prey.

Fish farms also introduce a large volume of antibiotic and chemical pollution into oceans and waterways:

The close quarters where farmed fish are raised (combined with their unnatural diets) means disease occurs often and can spread quickly. On fish farms, which are basically “CAFOs of the sea,” antibiotics are dispersed into the water, and sometimes injected directly into the fish.
Unfortunately, farmed fish are often raised in pens in the ocean, which means not only that pathogens can spread like wildfire and contaminate any wild fish swimming past – but the antibiotics can also spread to wild fish (via aquaculture and wastewater runoff) – and that’s exactly what recent research revealed. (source)
Mass die-offs of fish on the Brazilian coastline have linked to pollution from the dumping of raw sewage and garbage.

In the last few days it was reported that a massive die-off of bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico was connected by researchers to BP’s Deep Water Horizon oil spill. Evidence was found in a third of the cases of lesions in the adrenal gland, an otherwise rare condition linked with petroleum exposure. More than a fifth of the dolphins also suffered bacterial pneumonia, causing deadly lung infection that is likewise rarely seen in dolphin populations.

You can read more from Mac Slavo at his site SHTFplan.com, where this article first appeared.

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