#36: I'm Simply Saying That..Uh...

Hey, we made it to February! On to the news!

1. As previously discussed, with the federal government turning its back on climate change progress, much of the work to prevent The Great Darkness and Burning and Flooding is going to come down to states and cities. Here's a few fascinating examples of how different states are moving forward. Or not.

First up: California! - Wired

"Jerry Brown has convened a group of seven scientists to sift through that study and other recent research to calculate new projections for sea level rise—and, importantly, think about what it could mean for California’s coast. Over the next three months, the team will read, discuss, and synthesize. Eventually, they’ll arrive at numbers. And those numbers will have huge implications for the Golden State’s infrastructure, planning, and the budgets that support them.

In part, Brown formed this committee because an earlier report on sea level rise, just five years old, might already be out of date."

+ MY NOTES: This headline is misleading, because obviously, California can't take a bunch of actions on their own and then be immune to climate change, or specifically, sea level rise -- because we're all connected, man. See #Calexit for other stupid ideas.

2. Next up: New York! - Fast Company

"Look at a map of where New Yorkers supported Donald Trump and it looks a lot like the map of where Superstorm Sandy did its worst in 2012. From the east coast of Staten Island, to the Rockaways, to south Brooklyn, the communities most at risk from rising sea levels voted for Trump, a man who denies the very science behind rising sea levels.

As Nathan Kensinger points out in Curbed New York, the places where the city is now rebuilding against the next "Big One" are those where Trump posters hang proudly. "All of these Republican strongholds were devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and are now greatly benefiting from government assistance in their efforts to create new defenses against climate change," he writes."

+ MY NOTES: Hi! You're welcome!

3. Less rising oceans, more hellacious droughts. Let's check in with Kansas! - NY Times

"Doug Palen, a fourth-generation grain farmer on Kansas’ wind-swept plains, is in the business of understanding the climate. Since 2012, he has choked through the harshest drought to hit the Great Plains in a century, punctuated by freakish snowstorms and suffocating gales of dust. His planting season starts earlier in the spring and pushes deeper into winter.

To adapt, he has embraced an environmentally conscious way of farming that guards against soil erosion and conserves precious water. He can talk for hours about carbon sequestration — the trapping of global-warming-causing gases in plant life and in the soil — or the science of the beneficial microbes that enrich his land.

In short, he is a climate change realist. Just don’t expect him to utter the words “climate change.”

“If politicians want to exhaust themselves debating the climate, that’s their choice,” Mr. Palen said, walking through fields of freshly planted winter wheat. “I have a farm to run.”

Here in north-central Kansas, America’s breadbasket and conservative heartland, the economic realities of agriculture make climate change a critical business issue. At the same time, politics and social pressure make frank discussion complicated. This is wheat country, and Donald J. Trump country, and though the weather is acting up, the conservative orthodoxy maintains that the science isn’t settled."

+ MY NOTES: Perfect.

4. And bringing up the rear, new floating island cities in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. - NYTimes

"An audacious plan to respond to climate change by building a city of floating islands in the South Pacific is moving forward, with the government of French Polynesia agreeing to consider hosting the islands in a tropical lagoon.

The project is being put forward by a California nonprofit, the Seasteading Institute, which has raised about $2.5 million from more than 1,000 interested donors. Randolph Hencken, the group’s executive director, said work on the project could start in French Polynesia as early as next year, pending the results of some environmental and economic feasibility studies.

“We have a vision that we’re going to create an industry that provides floating islands to people who are threatened by rising sea levels,” Mr. Hencken said.

The group’s original founders included Peter Thiel, a billionaire investor and prominent supporter of President Trump, although Mr. Thiel is no longer donating to the institute, Mr. Hencken said."

+ MY NOTES: Thiel is out? You don't say?

Keep up the good work, fellas.

5. And yet -- money talks. - Quartz

"PowerScout used machine-learning algorithms and satellite imagery to detect rooftop solar panels on the homes of 1.5 million political donors in 20 states. In mature solar markets like California and Hawaii, Republicans and Democrats install solar at nearly equal rates, says Eric Roberts of PowerScout. In more nascent markets, Democrats have slightly higher installation rates than Republicans. These findings hold throughout the country.

Republican adoption was particularly responsive to cost savings: Conservative households installed more solar panels in states where first-year savings were highest."

+ MY NOTES: Progress is inevitable.

6. In other news, super cows! - Gizmodo

"Tuberculosis has long been a problem for cattle farmers in developing countries, especially in Asia and Africa. Now, scientists from Northwest A&F University in Shaanxi, China have used a tweaked CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system to insert a protein that helps fight off the disease-causing bacteria. The cows developed some resistance to tuberculosis (moo-berculosis?), though US Food and Drug Administration regulations may prevent us from seeing these cows in the US for a long time. This is the first time gene editing has been used to confer tuberculosis resistance in cows, making the study a major breakthrough."

+ MY NOTES: Designer cows!

7. My uncle lost a sadly inevitable battle to ALS, and this means everything. - The Independent

"Four patients who are unable to speak, move or blink have communicated they are "happy" after a successful attempt was made to read their thoughts. The discovery was made during a ground-breaking experiment aimed at piercing the wall of silence that surrounds victims of completely locked-in syndrome (CLIS).

Patients are said to be completely locked-in when their mental faculties are preserved but they are so paralysed that even eye movement is impossible.

To find a way of communicating with such individuals, the Swiss-led international team of scientists developed a form of thought reading based on a system that measures blood oxygen levels and electrical activity in the brain.

Thinking "yes" or "no" to specific personal questions triggered changes correlating with brain activity that could be translated by a computer."

+ MY NOTES: Beautiful.


Here's a bunch of Earth scientists to follow on Twitter right now

Robot hearts

A quick update on nuclear winter

A very technical read on climate change's future impact on financial markets

Sustainable investing up 33% in the US

We figured out how to stop our Alpha Centauri spaceship