More evidence of climate change: Arctic methane hydrates evaporating

August 21, 2009

It’s a pretty picture, but it should strike a bit of fear once you know what it is.

New Scientist explains:

Sonar image of methane plumes rising from methane hydrates on the Arctic Ocean floor; image from National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (Britain)

Sonar image of methane plumes rising from methane hydrates on the Arctic Ocean floor; image from National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (Britain)

It’s been predicted for years, and now it’s happening. Deep in the Arctic Ocean, water warmed by climate change is forcing the release of methane from beneath the sea floor.

Over 250 plumes of gas have been discovered bubbling up from the sea floor to the west of the Svalbard archipelago, which lies north of Norway. The bubbles are mostly methane, which is a greenhouse gas much more powerful than carbon dioxide.

The methane is probably coming from reserves of methane hydrate beneath the sea bed. These hydrates, also known as clathrates, are water ice with methane molecules embedded in them.

The methane plumes were discovered by an expedition aboard the research ship James Clark Ross, led by Graham Westbrook of the University of Birmingham and Tim Minshull of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, both in the UK.

Fortunately, the methane is not making it out of the water — yet.  The gases are absorbed before they get to the surface — but that increases ocean acidity.  If, and when, the methane hits the atmosphere, it will contribute to greenhouse warming of the planet.  This could create a runaway heat effect:  Warmer waters cause hydrates to release methane to the atmosphere, which causes the atmosphere to warm more, faster.

Scientists have not dismissed all other possibilities, but methane hydrate melting is the most likely cause:

Cohen cautions that the Arctic methane may not be from hydrate, but could be coming from the methane’s primary source, which might be deep within the Earth.

If that was the case, the warming of the West Spitsbergen current may not be to blame.

He says that the large amounts of methane being released make this unlikely, however: “If the methane is all primary, it would be an unprecedented amount.” So the idea that the hydrates are at least partly to blame is more plausible. “It’s not definitively proven, but it’s certainly reasonable,” he says.


End the hoaxes, part 2a: Great need for health care reform, Flagler County Free Clinic

August 21, 2009

Health care professionals and legislators struggled with the need for reform of health care for the past 40+ years.  Tweaking of specific, small parts produced no great reduction in health care cost inflation.  More millions of people fall out of the pool of people who have access to health care in a timely and affordable way.

And yet people claim not to see the need?

Faith Coleman of Flagler County Free Clinic: Faith Colemans ordeal as an uninsured cancer patient drove her to help others without health insurance. (CNN Image)

Faith Coleman of Flagler County Free Clinic: "Faith Coleman's ordeal as an uninsured cancer patient drove her to help others without health insurance." (CNN Image)

Meet Faith Coleman.  She was a young nurse, delivering health care for many different employers, when she was struck with kidney cancer.  Since she worked part time for so many, no one offered her health insurance as an employee.

Faith Coleman could mortgage her home for the $35,000 to save her life.

Her cancer is in remission.

But she then organized health providers in her town to take care of others in her situation.  Week in and week out, more than a hundred people show up to her essentially free clinic, trying to crawl out of the cracks in the health care delivery floor.  CNN featured the story.

I have been given another chance, and I felt that it was important for me to make a difference and to help other people,” she said.

So after her recovery in 2004, Coleman approached Dr. John Canakaris. The local physician with 60 years of experience had been treating the indigent population for years. Canakaris was eager to reach more patients in need.

The two worked together to establish the Flagler County Free Clinic in Bunnell, Florida, which provides medical care for the uninsured. It has treated more than 6,700 patients.

The clinic opened its doors in February 2005, with eight volunteers treating eight patients. Since then, it has expanded to 120 volunteers who see about 80 patients every other weekend. Coleman said she’s seen an increase in the number of patients at the clinic, which serves people who meet federal poverty guidelines.

Go read the story, look at the videos, and help out where you can.

One sure-fire way you can help:  Stand up for health care reform. We need it now.  In Texas, each person with health care insurance pays $1,800 a year to mend the holes in the safety net — we need to reduce that cost (for my family, that’s $7,200/year).

Stand up for health care reform now, and stand against the hoaxes claiming we have no need, or that expanded programs won’t help.


Pritchett confesses scare tactics, shows lunacy

August 21, 2009

I sent my response to Lou Pritchett[Free Republic folks:  Be sure to read that response to Pritchett.  A typical corporate people-hating hack -- if you think he sympathizes with you, you're more than a few flakes shy of a full box of Ivory] He responded in e-mail:

Since my ‘you scare me’  letter got your shorts in such a knot I hope the following two will increase  the discomfort. Lou Pritchett

PUBLISHED IN FLORIDA TIMES/UNION  NOV. 6, 2008, A FEW DAYS AFTER THE ELECTION

Farewell America–We’ll  really miss you!

Farewell to  the America we have loved for two centuries and hello to a new far-left driven president who promised change and will most likely deliver on it,

Farewell, to an  America  driven by individuals with strong work ethics to one which will resemble French, German, and British societies where big government, big welfare, union controlled labor,  four  day work weeks, ten  week vacations are the rule. Societies which constantly ask  “—where’s mine?”

Farewell to capitalism, job creation, lower taxes, smaller government, fewer entitlements, safer cities, personal responsibility  and sound work ethics.

Farewell to adequate military defense spending to protect us from our enemies who wish and plan  to kill us.

Farewell to  close ties with our  best and  only friend in the middle east—Israel.

Farewell to maintaining a conservative Supreme Court.

Farewell to any chance of keeping Health Care out of the hands and control  of   government.

Farewell to the famous American standard of living–a magnet to the world.

Farewell to conservative ‘talk radio’  as an antidote to the biased media. The Fairness Doctrine will return.

Farewell to any hope for educating our college kids in something other than liberal mush.

Today is truly a sad day for millions of Americans as they slowly  allow the election results to sink in. Today, for the first time in modern history,  America took a giant  step toward changing not only  the direction,  but the entire  character of the country from  free enterprise driven  to  big  government driven.

Our only hope is to start now planning and building a strong conservative base which can  reclaim the Presidency and Congress in four years and start repairing the damage. God help us if we fail.  Lou Pritchett  (www.loupritchett.com)

PUBLISHED IN FLORIDA TIMES/UNION  AUGUST 3, 2009

Take heart America!   In only six months President Obama  has finally awakened the ’600 pound average American gorilla’  by his  “Ready, Fire, Aim”  approach with the auto industry, the unions, the banks,  Guantanamo, health care, czars, credit cards, and energy. His strategy of deliberately overloading the system with program after program designed to both confuse and deceive the public is right out of the anarchist play book and clearly proves how dangerous he, his administration and his  agenda are.  A universal truth states that the best indication of what a man will do in the future is what a man has done in the past. Given this,  another three and a half years of Obama will be totally disastrous, both financially and morally, for this country. Our only hope is to dump the Congressional clowns and elect adults in 2010 in order to stop the bleeding and then to finish the job by sending Obama back to the thing he does best–community organizing—in Chicago in 2012. Failing this, we fail our children and we fail our country. Lou Pritchett

“Anarchist handbook?”  Well, if Lou Pritchett is reading such things, you can bet it’s not because he wants to know what anarchists might do to him.  He’s looking for tactics.

Some of the things he claims he fears now, a rational patriot might hope for.  Talk radio replaced by fair discussion?  Certainly George Washington would have been encouraged by that.

If Pritchett goes on long enough, he starts making Obama look good.  Sunshine does not favor the pathogens.

Voltaire’s prayer still applies; one worries when so many come up looking so foolish, however.

One wishes Pritchett would go back to lecturing businesses on how to partner with Wal-Mart.  The cynic in him appears to have abandoned all hope in any entrepreneurial spirit left in America.  Too bad.

Can somebody get Pritchett a library card?


Alaska’s salmon go missing. Why?

August 21, 2009

It’s one of those environmental mysteries that would be fun and intrigueing, were it not so worrisome.

Alaska’s King Salmon disappeared from traditional river runs this year.  Again.

From Reuters:  A sockeye salmon scurries through shallow water in the Adams River while preparing to spawn near Chase, British Columbia northeast of Vancouver October 11, 2006.  REUTERS/Andy Clark

From Reuters: "A sockeye salmon scurries through shallow water in the Adams River while preparing to spawn near Chase, British Columbia northeast of Vancouver October 11, 2006. REUTERS/Andy Clark"

Reasons could be one of many, or several:  Changing ocean currents, pollock fishing accidental catches of salmon, plankton blooms, conditions on the rivers, competition from “ranched” salmon.

Consumers may see only the rise in price and a change in labeling in the supermarket.

Effects on employment and food supply in Alaska are huge, and crippling.

Canada fisheries are affected, too.

Climate change probably plays a role, in any scenario anyone poses:

“It’s quite the shocking drop,” said Stan Proboszcz, fisheries biologist at the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. “No one’s exactly sure what happened to these fish.”

Salmon are born in fresh water before migrating to oceans to feed. They return as adults to the same rivers to spawn.

Several theories have been put forward to try to explain the sockeye’s disappearance:

* Climate change may have reduced food supply for salmon in the ocean.

* The commercial fish farms that the young Fraser River salmon pass en route to the ocean may have infected them with sea lice, a marine parasite.

* The rising temperature of the river may have weakened the fish.

The Canadian government doesn’t know what’s killing the fish, but believes the sockeye are dying off in the ocean, not in fresh water, based on healthy out-migrations, said Jeff Grout, regional resource manager of salmon for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

In this case, even a small change in climate can have huge effects on ecosystems and specific populations of animals.  It’s one of those climate change issues that climate change skeptics and denialists prefer not to talk about at all.  If, as they allege, concern over climate change is entirely political, driven by bad information and false claims from over-active environmentalists, these problems should not exist at all.

But the problems do exist.  A fishery that had been stable for 50 years previously, the entire time it was tracked so carefully, suddenly becomes fishless.  Watch those rivers and fisheries.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pamela Bumsted.

Help save the salmon; tell others:

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