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The   21st   Century   Environment

The   Challenges  Are  Long  Term

The   Solutions   Require  Innovative  Approaches

by Richard O. Aichele

 

21st Century Doughnut for Sustainable Cities

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The 21st Century challenge is to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet. Oot dated status quo approaches may need to be revised. Instead holistic approaches may be used by city planners as they reimagine and remake their own futures.

The Doughnut is a new economic - environmental approach now being implemented in Amsterdam, Netherlands and other cities to solve some global issues with innovative approaches. The Circular Economy concept will be important to link efficient recyling and Amsterdam's long term growth.

NOAA Warns of Dangerous Heat Extremes

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The article includes details of “the emergence of heat and humidity too severe for human tolerance,” published in Science Advances shows for the first time that some locations have already reported combined heat and humidity extremes above humans’ survivability limit. Dangerous extremes only a few degrees below this limit have occurred thousands of times globally — including in parts of the southwestern and southeastern United States — and have more than doubled in frequency since 1979."

Ladybugs and Biocontrols Can Reduce Pesticide Use

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The article includes details of the Ladybug, or Lady Beetle, natural role as a friendly to man beneficial predatory insect."These small colorful insects are usually red or orange with black markings while some lady beetles are black, often with red markings. They have alligator-like larvae. Over 450 species are found in North America. Some are native and some have been introduced from other countries. Most lady beetles in North America are beneficial as both adults and larvae, feeding primarily on aphids. They also feed on mites, small insects, and insect eggs." They are helpful for growers of vegetables, grain crops, legumes, strawberries, and tree crops; however any crop that is attacked by aphids will benefit from these beetles.

Around the world, various biocontrols are gaining favor. Biological pesticides are a form of biocontrol based on living organisms, which includes microbial pesticides based on bacteria or fungi as the active ingredient. The European Union's (EU) European Green Deal have goals to cut back on the use of chemical pesticides due to their negative affects on farm land, ground water, native animals and friendly insects such as the honey bee. There is also little doubt that using nature as a starting point provides “more opportunities to develop products with low-risk toxicological profiles, low residue levels and even more rapid degradation.”

Preventing Ocean Oil Spills

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Locating and monitoring coastal wrecks is achieved by NOAA's Resources and Under Sea Threats Program known as RUST and the salvage operations are under the direction of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The article includes details of the S.S. Coimbra wreck is located twenty miles off Long Island, New York in 1942. The 6,778 gt tanker was torpedoed, burned and sank in 180 feet of water broken into three pieces. Most of the 2.7 million gallon lubricating oil cargo onboard originally was believed to have been released or burned before sinking but oil trapped in the wreck has intermitently leaking over the years requiring several small beach clean up projects.

During the three month Coimbra project, 450,000 gallons of lubricating oil were recovered and only a small amount remains within the wreck. At the conclusion, DEC commissioner Basil Seggos noted that the risk of a major oil spill that could have affected a large area of the Atlantic coastline was averted and instead, "the Coimbra now complements New York’s growing network of artificial reefs, which serve as an economic driver for the region’s diving and fishing industries."

 

The Challenge of Reducing Transportation Pollution

Washington Politics Stalls Critical Hudson River Rail Tunnels

Hudson River tunnels. Photos: Amtrak

The Gateway Project is regarded as among the most vital infrastructure projects in the U.S. The tunnels now 110 years old were built by the Pennsyvania Railroad to give direct connection to the Pennsylvania Station in New York City being built at the same time. Today, the tunnels are a vital but endangered infrastructure allowing passengers trains to travel between Boston and Washington DC. Rebuilding the tunnels plus constructing the additional new tunnels have been planned for years. President Donald Trump’s administration ranks the tunnel near the bottom of 37 rated projects vying for federal mass-transit grants and loans. Proponents of the Gateway Tunnel under the Hudson River blame Trump, who they say has backed away from his predecessor’s promises of federal funding and put regulatory hurdles in the project’s way.

The purpose of the Project is to preserve the current functionality of Amtrak’s NEC service and NJ TRANSIT’s commuter rail service between New Jersey and Penn Station New York (PSNY) by repairing the existing North River Tunnel; and to strengthen the NEC’s resiliency to support reliable rail service by providing redundant capability under the Hudson River for Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT NEC trains. These improvements must be achieved while maintaining uninterrupted commuter and intercity rail service.

The new rail tunnel is being constructed so that NEC service can be transferred to it while the existing North River Tunnel is rehabilitated. When completed, the Preferred Alternative would result in transportation benefits, including increased reliability through improved resiliency and redundant operational capability.

Time, salt and traffic. The existing North River tunnel opened in 1910. It is used by Amtrak for its Northeast Corridor service and by NJ Transit for its New York-bound service, and handles about 450 trains, or 200,000 passenger trips, a day. The 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) tunnel consists of two single-track tubes. During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the tunnel was inundated with corrosive saltwater, bringing mass transit to a halt for days. The tunnel was restored to service, but corrosive substances from the saltwater remain in its concrete liner and bench walls, causing cracks and weakening the power system. . . . . . . Read this complete Bloomberg.com article and the source of this information at: Funding stuck in Washington.

 

solar6,952 Square Mile Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone

As of August 1, 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determined that this year's 6,952 square miles Dead Zone, the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, is the 8th largest ever measured over the 33-years of the study. The data was recorded between July 23 - August 1, 2019. The Red area denotes 2 mg/L of oxygen or lower, the level which is considered hypoxic, at the bottom of the seafloor.

"This year’s Gulf of Mexico “dead zone”— an area of low oxygen that can kill fish and marine life — is approximately 6,952 square miles, according to NOAA-supported scientists. The measured size of the dead zone, also called the hypoxic zone, is the 8th largest in the 33-year record and exceeds the 5,770-square-mile average from the past five years. The annual survey was led by scientists at Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) during a research cruise from July 23 to 29 aboard LUMCON’s R/V Pelican.

In June, NOAA forecasted a near historic hypoxic zone of 7,829 square miles, close to the record size of 8,776 square miles set in 2017. The prediction relies primarily on the Mississippi River discharge and nutrient runoff data during May from the U.S. Geological Survey. With high discharge and nutrient loading this spring and summer, the models predicted a very large hypoxia zone to form during the time of the cruise. The forecast models, however, do not account for large mixing events such as storms, which are only predictable on shorter timescales.

This year, the passage of Hurricane Barry prior to the research cruise helped mix the water column over the Louisiana shelf, which proved to be a temporary disruption to the hypoxic zone that had already formed. Typically, the hypoxic zone changes in size throughout the summer, and when reduced during storms, as seen this year, usually increases once the water column restratifies.

Each year, excess nutrients from cities and farms in upland watersheds drain into the Gulf and stimulate massive algal growth during the spring and summer. The algae eventually die, sink and decompose. Throughout this process, oxygen-consuming bacteria decay the algae. The resulting low oxygen levels near the bottom are insufficient to support most marine life, rendering the habitat unusable and forcing species to move to other areas to survive. Exposure to hypoxic waters has been found to reduce the reproductive capabilities of some fish speciesoffsite link and slow shrimp growth, leading to reductions in theoffsite link average size of shrimp. . . . . . . Read this complete article and the source of this information at: Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone

 

solarIs a Mini Ice Age Coming? 'Maunder Minimum' Spurs Controversy

By Elizabeth Goldbaum July 18, 2015 Planet Earth

Image of the sun taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on July 18, 2015.(Image: © NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory)

A scientist who claims waning solar activity in the next 15 years will trigger what some are calling a mini ice age has revived talk about the effects of man-made versus natural disruptors to Earth's climate.

Valentina Zharkova, a professor of mathematics at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom, used a new model of the sun's solar cycle, which is the periodic change in solar radiation, sunspots and other solar activity over a span of 11 years, to predict that "solar activity will fall by 60 percent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the 'mini ice age' that began in 1645," according to a statement.

At the National Astronomy meeting in Llanduno, north Wales last week, Zharkova said that a series of solar phenomena will lead to a "Maunder Minimum," which refers to the seven decades, from 1645 to 1715, when the sun's surface ceased its heat-releasing magnetic storms and coincided with the Little Ice Age, a period of chillier temperatures, from around 1550 to 1850 in Europe, North America and Asia, according to NASA.

"The upcoming Maunder Minimum is expected to be shorter than the last one in 17th century (five solar cycles of 11 years)," Zharkova told Live Science in an email. "It will be lasting about three solar cycles."

However, many scientists are not convinced. Georg Feulner, the deputy chair of the Earth system analysis research domain at the Potsdam Institute on Climate Change Research, has studied the effect a solar minimum might have on Earth's climate. His research has shown that temperature drops correlated to a less intense sun would be insignificant compared with anthropogenic global warming, according to the Washington Post. . . . . . . Read this complete article and the source of this information at: Exploring the Maunder-Minimum-Mini-Ice-Age Theory

 

NASA Report: Greenhouse Gases, Not Sun, Driving Warming

By Wynne Parry February 01, 2012 Planet Earth

The sun's activity recently picked up, as shown here in this image of a massive eruption on its surface on Jan. 23. As part of its 11-year cycle, the sun is now ramping up, after an unusually long lull. The sun's activity recently picked up, as shown here in this image of a massive eruption on its surface on Jan. 23. As part of its 11-year cycle, the sun is now ramping up, after an unusually long lull. (Image: © Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASAGoddard Spaceflight Center & the AIA Consortium) This article was updated at 10:42 a.m. EST on Feb. 2.

A recent, prolonged lull in the sun's activity did not prevent the Earth from absorbing more solar energy than it let escape back into space, a NASA analysis of the Earth's recent energy budget indicates. An imbalance like this drives global warming — since more energy is coming in than leaving — and, because it occurred during a period when the sun was emitting comparatively low levels of energy, the imbalance has implications for the cause of global warming.

The results confirm greenhouse gases produced by human activities are the most important driver of global climate change, according to the researchers.They found that the Earth absorbed 0.58 watts of excess energy per square meter than escaped back into space during the study period from 2005 to 2010, a time when solar activity was low. By comparison, the planet receives 0.25 watts less energy per square meter during a solar minimum, than during a period of maximum activity in the sun's 11-year cycle. (Currently, the sun is in the midst of Solar Cycle 24, with activity expected to ramp up toward solar maximum in 2013.)

"The fact we still see a positive imbalance despite the prolonged solar minimum isn't a surprise given what we've learned about the climate system," lead researcher James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a statement. "But it's worth noting, because this provides unequivocal evidence that the sun is not the dominant driver of global warming."

However, in an email to LiveScience, Hansen noted that "the sun is a small but not negligible factor," in determining the size of the imbalance. Over the past decade, the imbalance declined slightly due, in part, to the solar minimum, according to Hansen. Solar activity refers to the activity of the sun's magnetic field. Fluctuations in solar activity, including magnetic field-powered sunspots and solar flares, have been linked to past changes in climate, including, controversially, the Little Ice Age. Some skeptics have attributed contemporary climate change to natural fluctuations in solar activity, rather than human-emitted greenhouse gases — the explanation endorsed by nearly all climate scientists, including those convened by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Incoming solar radiation is measured by satellites; the recent minimum set records for the reduction in solar radiation since satellite measurements began in the 1970s.

The study appeared in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics in December. . . . . . . Read this complete article and the source of this information at:NASA Report: Greenhouse Gases, Not Sun, Driving Warming

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