► We’re Living the Past’s Climate Change Future
A lot of people—optimists, maybe—believe there’s a line in the sand when it comes to the effects of climate change that will force society to take action when it’s crossed. But, as is the case with many things in life, that line recedes the closer you get to it, the New York Times reports in an existential and eye-opening look at climate change and the future of humanity. Here’s the secret of climate change: We’re already living in it. The future people who dwell in our apocalyptic vision of a world ravaged by climate change probably won’t realize it either. The future “will very likely feel as authentic, and only as horrific,“ to the people living in it “as our moment does to us.“
There’s a thing called “environmental generational amnesia.“ It means every generation only accepts ecological changes they can see in their own lifetime. It’s the reason only one-third of children living in highly polluted areas around Houston think they live in pollution. It also allows us to normalize things that would seem dystopian to a previous generation. Like when Siberian permafrost recently melted and released a long-frozen strain of anthrax, sickening dozens. Or why the quadrupled amount of flooding in Washington DC over the past 50-some years is quaintly referred to as “nuisance flooding” by authorities. Humans can adapt to climate change—we can “normalize” individual disasters—but we’ll be sacrificing quality of life to do so. And we might not even realize it. Read the full piece HERE .
► April Is a Cash Cow for Zoo
April the giraffe has become a cash cow for a tiny zoo in upstate New York, thanks to a YouTube livestream of her pregnancy and birth of an incredibly cute calf that riveted viewers around the world. Owners of the for-profit Animal Adventure Park won’t say exactly how much they’ve pulled in from all April-related ventures, reports the AP, but internet marketing experts conservatively estimate the haul in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The ventures include the Toys ‘R’ Us-sponsored YouTube stream, monetized text messages, a clothing line, and the sale of T-shirts, caps, and fuzzy toys. “The monies are going to allow the park to continue to grow and improve,“ said Jordan Patch, who started the 20-acre zoo with his wife four years ago in Harpursville. “But also the money will help support our conservation efforts in Africa, so we’re actually providing tangible results for wild giraffes.“
All Patch would say for sure, moneywise, is that a Gofundme campaign has raised $150,000 for the care of April, her mate Oliver, and their calf, as well as upgrades to their exhibit. And he expects 150,000 park visitors—twice as many as last year—to pay $11-$13 to see the giraffe family along with the park’s 200 other animals. April become the second most-watched livestream in YouTube history with more than 232 million views and 7.6 billion minutes of live watch time. “I couldn’t speculate as to how much Toys ‘R’ Us is paying, but I’m sure it’s a huge chunk of change,“ probably in the “low six-figures,“ says a social media analyst. Toys ‘R’ Us is coming out with new giraffe plush toys based on April’s little family. Local businesses are also hoping for a baby bump. “We’re booking fast and furious,“ says a rep at the Doubletree Hilton in nearby Binghamton.
► At least global warming may get Americans off the couch more
Global warming’s milder winters will likely nudge Americans off the couch more in the future, a rare, small benefit of climate change, a new study finds.
With less chilly winters, Americans will be more likely to get outdoors, increasing their physical activity by as much as 2.5 percent by the end of the century, according to a new study in Monday’s edition of the journal Nature Human Behaviour . Places like North Dakota, Minnesota and Maine are likely to see the most dramatic increases, usually the result of more walking.
But that good global warming side effect is not likely to extend to the deep south and especially the desert southwest because hotter summer days may keep people inside. Arizona, southern Nevada and southeastern California are likely to see activity drop off the most by the year 2099, the study found.
“It’s a small little tiny silver lining amid a series of very bad, very unfortunate events that are likely to occur,“ said study lead author Nick Obradovich , who studies the social impacts of climate change at both Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and MIT. Global warming “almost certainly will be very costly on net for humanity.“
Any overall benefit for Americans as a whole will probably be far outweighed by many other ways that climate change hurts health, said both Obradovich and outside health experts. For example, deaths from heat waves are expected to increase, allergies are likely to worsen and infectious diseases will be more easily spread, said Dr. Howard Frumkin, a University of Washington environmental health professor.
Obradovich said he got the idea to look about what climate change will do to people’s activities a few Octobers ago when he was living in San Diego and running regularly in the afternoon. There was a heat wave, temperatures broke 100, and he stayed home.
Obradovich looked at government surveys about health activity habits, daily weather data from when they were interviewed and simulations of future climate conditions. The warmer it gets, the more people go outside, which he said makes sense. Until it gets too hot. At about 82 to 84 degrees (28 to 29 degrees Celsius) people start to go out less.
For most of America for most of the year, the daily high does not hit 84, so the net effect nationwide is more exercise.
But the affect varies by month and location. Nearly all the country is likely to be less physically active in July, August and September by the end of the century, but a similar majority would also likely exercise more in November, December, January, February, March and even April in the year 2099, the study finds.
Dr. Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, faulted the study for not taking into account people who have jobs that require lots of physical activity nor the growing popularity of winter sports.
Other outside experts said the study made sense, but the bigger picture is more important.
“While milder winters will permit more exercise — a good thing — it’s important to put the results of the paper in that broader context,“ Frumkin said in an email, emphasizing “climate change threatens far more than it benefits.“
► Bluestone Lake expected to crest 42 feet above summer pool
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has “essentially” closed Bluestone Lake in Summers County as water continues to rise because of flooding on the New River following heavy rain last weekend in Virginia.
The Army Corps is projecting the high water will push Bluestone Lake about 42 feet above normal summer pool before cresting, Bluestone Operations Division Resource Manager Dean Bonifacio told MetroNews Tuesday afternoon.
“There are no homes around the lake but the lake is essentially closed at this point because our access points are closed,” Bonifacio said. “What we call the pit area, our normal access points, the Bluestone State Park area, it’s inundated so people could not launch their boats at this time.”
The high water has also impacted the Bluestone Marina and the Summers County campgrounds up the New River, Bonifacio said.
“We’re probably going to be affecting them with this high water probably for another week. By that point we’ll be getting back down and hopefully getting back to normal,” he said.
The Corps has the Bluestone Dam’s 16 sluice gates fully open discharging 44,000 cubic feet of water per second. Engineers are watching the gauge at Hinton and will close some of the gates if it gets too high.
“We’re lucky on this flood. This high water did not affect the Greenbrier River. Presently it’s only two feet above normal at Alderson. We’re monitoring everything downstream and right now it’s in good shape,” Bonifacio said.
The high water has also produced a lot of debris. Bonifacio they are picking out some of the larger items, like appliances, before they move through the dam. He says other debris is being allowed to pass through.
► NJ Town’s Iconic 600-Year-Old Tree Will Fall
For hundreds of years, an imposing white oak tree has watched over a New Jersey community and church, providing protection from the summer sun, serving as a scenic backdrop for thousands of photos and—according to legend—as a picnic site for George Washington. But the tree—believed to be among the nation’s oldest—is not long for its spot in the church graveyard, reports the AP. Crews are due Monday at the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in Bernards to begin removing the 600-year-old tree. The two to three days of chopping will draw attention from residents of a bedroom community about 30 miles west of New York that has long celebrated its white oak. It’s been the place to go for formal photos, a landmark for driving directions, and a remarkable piece of natural history. “I know it seems funny ... to mourn a tree, but I’m really going to miss seeing it,“ says a resident.
Arborists say the tree had stood for nearly 300 years before the church was built in 1717. It stands about 100 feet tall, has a trunk circumference of 18 feet and a branch spread of roughly 150 feet. The tree was declared dead after showing rot and weakness in the last few years, likely due to its age. Arborists determined it wouldn’t be able to stand many more harsh winters or spring storms. Among notable visitors was Gen. George Washington, who town officials say picnicked at the tree with the Marquis de Lafayette. “It has been an integral part of the town, that’s for sure,“ says a member of the church’s council. “It has always been there, even before there was a town.“ Experts say fewer trees are replicating the old oak’s 600-year lifespan due to several factors—including droughts, wildfires, and invasive insects. But the tree’s legacy will go on, notes NJ.com: Another white oak, cultivated from the old tree’s acorns, was recently planted on church property. It now stands about 20 feet tall.
► What Makes Up New Plastic Bottles? Not Old Ones, It Seems
That Coke bottle you were proud to throw in the recycling bin so it could be repurposed into another Coke bottle may actually be … part of a carpet sample in Mumbai. It turns out that a very small percentage of the world’s plastic beverage bottles are made out of recycled plastic, with an IBISWorld analyst breaking it down into stark numbers for BuzzFeed: Less than a third of the world’s plastic bottles (around 6 billion pounds per year) are recycled, and of that sample, only about 20% is transformed into new plastic bottles. Instead, most of the bottles are sent off to plastics factories in emerging markets, where they’re used in textiles such as clothing, bags, and carpeting, and the reason appears to come down to cost. Because new plastic is often crafted out of petroleum, the current low price of oil makes it cheaper to just start from scratch than use recycled materials.
A recent Greenpeace report points the finger at the world’s top six soft-drink companies (not counting Coca-Cola, which wouldn’t give up its numbers) for using a combined average of just 6.6% recycled PET in their bottles. (A Greenpeace blog post takes the soft drink industry to task for saying consumers don’t recycle enough.) Retailers are trying to capitalize on the bottles-to-attire trend: Target, for example, has started carrying clothing lines from companies that make their attire out of recycled plastic, WCCO reports. But textiles aren’t usually recycled themselves, often because they’re blended with non-recyclable materials. “Fifty years from now … people will be digging landfills and thinking we were crazy ... how could we create landfills rather than recycle?“ Leon Farahnik, founder of the CarbonLite recycling company, tells BuzzFeed.
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