<![CDATA[GEOLOGY WITH JEFF SIMPSON - GEONEWS]]>Sat, 25 Sep 2021 05:21:33 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Baby Poop Is Loaded With Microplastics]]>Wed, 22 Sep 2021 19:55:42 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/baby-poop-is-loaded-with-microplasticsWHENEVER A PLASTIC bag or bottle degrades, it breaks into ever smaller pieces that work their way into nooks in the environment. When you wash synthetic fabrics, tiny plastic fibers break loose and flow out to sea. When you drive, plastic bits fly off your tires and brakes. That’s why literally everywhere scientists look, they’re finding microplastics—specks of synthetic material that measure less than 5 millimeters long. They’re on the most remote mountaintops and in the deepest oceans. They’re blowing vast distances in the wind to sully once pristine regions like the Arctic. In 11 protected areas in the western US, the equivalent of 120 million ground-up plastic bottles are falling out of the sky each year.  And now, microplastics are coming out of babies. In a pilot study published today, scientists describe sifting through infants’ dirty diapers and finding an average of 36,000 nanograms of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) per gram of feces, 10 times the amount they found in adult feces. They even found it in newborns' first feces. PET is an extremely common polymer that’s known as polyester when it’s used in clothing, and it is also used to make plastic bottles. The finding comes a year after another team of researchers calculated that preparing hot formula in plastic bottles severely erodes the material, which could dose babies with several million microplastic particles a day, and perhaps nearly a billion a year.  - Wired
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<![CDATA[China Pledges to Stop Building Coal-Burning Power Plants Abroad]]>Tue, 21 Sep 2021 23:14:10 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/china-pledges-to-stop-building-coal-burning-power-plants-abroad
In a move designed to bolster Beijing’s climate credentials, President Xi Jinping of China said Tuesday that his country would stop building coal-burning power plants overseas, ending its support for construction projects that rely on the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel.  “China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low carbon energy and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad,” Mr. Xi said in prerecorded remarks to the United Nations General Assembly.  Within its own borders, China produces the largest share of global emissions of greenhouse gases. It is by far the biggest producer of coal domestically and the largest financier of coal-fired power plants abroad, with an enormous 40 gigawatts of coal power planned. - NYTimes
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<![CDATA[Understanding the Environmental Impacts of Shale Development]]>Mon, 20 Sep 2021 22:54:00 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/understanding-the-environmental-impacts-of-shale-development
Development of shale gas and tight oil, or unconventional oil and gas (UOG), has dramatically increased domestic energy production in the U.S. UOG resources are typically developed through the use of hydraulic fracturing, which creates high- permeability flow paths into large vol- umes of tight rocks to provide a means for hydrocarbons to move to a wellbore. This process uses significant volumes of water, sand, and chemicals, raising concerns about risks to the environment and to human health. Researchers in various dis- ciplines have been working to make UOG development more efficient, and to better understand the risks to air quality, water quality, landscapes, human health, and ecosystems. Risks to air include releases of methane, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate mat- ter. Water-resource risks include excessive withdrawals, stray gas in drinking-water aquifers, and surface spills of fluids or chemicals. Landscapes can be signifi- cantly altered by the infrastructure installed to support large drilling plat- forms and associated equipment. - Geological Society of America
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<![CDATA[Ancient spider caring for her offspring is trapped in 99 million-year-old amber]]>Mon, 20 Sep 2021 22:38:25 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/ancient-spider-caring-for-her-offspring-is-trapped-in-99-million-year-old-amber
Nothing gets between a fiercely protective mother spider and her children. Dripping tree resin trapped adult female spiders and baby spiderlings about 99 million years ago, forever showcasing the maternal care exhibited by these arthropods, according to new research. The Lagonomegopidae family of spiders is now extinct, but spiders have a long history and first appeared during the Carboniferous period between 359 to 299 million years ago.
The fossilized Burmese amber pieces tell two different stories. A study detailing the observations of the amber specimens published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. - CNN and The Royal Society
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<![CDATA[Canaries volcano streams slow down, homes destroyed, thousands flee]]>Mon, 20 Sep 2021 21:46:33 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/canaries-volcano-streams-slow-down-homes-destroyed-thousands-fleeLava flowing from Spain's Canary Islands' first volcanic eruption in 50 years has forced the evacuation of 5,500 people and destroyed around 100 houses but the streams were advancing slower than originally predicted, authorities said on Monday.  The flow of molten rock will not reach the Atlantic Ocean on Monday evening as earlier estimated, an official said. Experts say that if and when it does, it could trigger more explosions and clouds of toxic gases.  "The movement of lava is much slower than it was initially ... There has not been a large advance during the day," local emergency coordinator Miguel Angel Morcuende told a press briefing on Monday evening. He said the stream had made its way about halfway to the coast  .This was just a few hours after Morcuende said that that the Carnarys were safe and that this was just a good show. - Reuters]]><![CDATA[Special Report: BP gambles big on fast transition from oil to renewables]]>Mon, 20 Sep 2021 21:42:51 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/special-report-bp-gambles-big-on-fast-transition-from-oil-to-renewables
Deep in the Oman desert lies one of BP's more lucrative projects, a mass of steel pipes and cooling towers that showcases the British energy giant's pioneering natural gas extraction technology.  The facility earned BPmore than $650 million in profits in 2019, according to financial filings reviewed by Reuters. Yet the oil major agreed to sell a third of its majority stake in the project earlier this year. The deal exemplifies a larger strategy to liquidate fossil-fuel assets to raise cash for investments in renewable-energy projects that BP concedes won't make money for years. - Reuters
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<![CDATA[The Incredible Shrinking Colorado River]]>Fri, 10 Sep 2021 19:59:01 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/the-incredible-shrinking-colorado-river
Two decades of climate change-induced drought and rising temperatures, combined with ever-growing demand, have put the entire water system — and the flora and fauna and more than 40 million people that rely on it — into serious trouble. Now local, state and federal water managers are being forced to reckon with a frightening reality: the incredible shrinking Colorado River system. - High Country News
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<![CDATA[Climate Change Pushes Fires to Higher Ground]]>Thu, 09 Sep 2021 02:21:54 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/climate-change-pushes-fires-to-higher-ground
Scientists have known for decades that climate change makes wildfires more common, larger, and more intense. Now an international team of scientists has demonstrated a new connection between fires and global warming. Using data from Landsat satellites, they discovered that wildfires in the western United States have been spreading to higher elevations due to warmer and drier conditions that are clearly linked to climate change.  Historically, forest fires have been rare in high-elevation areas—at least 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level. But when McGill University scientist Mohammad Reza Alizadeh and colleagues studied fires that occurred in the West between 1984 and 2017, they found blazes moving to higher ground at a rate of 25 feet (7.6 meters) per year.  Fires are now burning higher up on hillsides and mountainsides because areas that used to be too wet to burn are now drier due to warmer temperatures and earlier snowmelt.  - NASA
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<![CDATA[World's largest plant capturing carbon from air starts in Iceland]]>Thu, 09 Sep 2021 02:18:48 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/worlds-largest-plant-capturing-carbon-from-air-starts-in-iceland
The world's largest plant that sucks carbon dioxide directly from the air and deposits it underground is due to start operating on Wednesday, the company behind the nascent green technology said. Swiss start-up Climeworks AG, which specialises in capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air, has partnered with Icelandic carbon storage firm Carbfix to develop a plant that sucks out up to 4,000 tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of the annual emissions from about 790 cars. Last year, global CO2-emissions totalled 31.5 billion tonnes, according to the International Energy Agency. - Reuters
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<![CDATA[Why Variations in Earth's Magnetic Field Aren't Causing Today's Climate Change]]>Thu, 09 Sep 2021 01:43:30 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/why-variations-in-earths-magnetic-field-arent-causing-todays-climate-changeSome people have claimed that variations in Earth’s magnetic field are contributing to current global warming and can cause catastrophic climate change. However, the science doesn’t support that argument. In this blog, we’ll examine a number of proposed hypotheses regarding the effects of changes in Earth’s magnetic field on climate. We’ll also discuss physics-based reasons why changes in the magnetic field can’t impact climate. - NASA
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<![CDATA[Study: Greenland Ice Sheet on Brink of Major Tipping Point]]>Wed, 08 Sep 2021 18:35:06 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/study-greenland-ice-sheet-on-brink-of-major-tipping-point
A significant part of the Greenland ice sheet is on the brink of a tipping point, after which accelerated melting would become inevitable even if global heating was halted, according to new research.  Rising temperatures caused by the climate crisis have already seen trillions of tonnes of Greenland’s ice pour into the ocean. Melting its ice sheet completely would eventually raise global sea level by 7 metres.  The new analysis detected the warning signals of a tipping point in a 140-year record of ice-sheet height and melting rates in the Jakobshavn basin, one of the five biggest basins in Greenland and the fastest-melting. The prime suspect for a surge in melting is a vicious circle in which melting reduces the height of the ice sheet, exposing it to the warmer air found at lower altitudes, which causes further melting. - Guardian
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<![CDATA[Sea Rise Under Scrutiny In Condo Collapse: Corrosion Likely, But No Sign Of Sinkhole]]>Wed, 08 Sep 2021 18:27:02 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/sea-rise-under-scrutiny-in-condo-collapse-corrosion-likely-but-no-sign-of-sinkhole
There is no escaping the rising risks to Surfside and other coastal communities up and down the Florida coast. Low-lying garages in South Florida have flooded for years, some famously so. Recall the 2016 photo of an octopus finding its way up a drainpipe into a Miami Beach condo’s garage. The two feet of sea level rise expected by 2060 will swamp septic tanks, homes, parks and roads. And as waters keep rising, it will eventually render some places permanently uninhabitable. - WUSF
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<![CDATA[Dry Wells, Lower Flows Raise Alarm About the Verde River's Future]]>Mon, 06 Sep 2021 23:07:59 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/dry-wells-lower-flows-raise-alarm-about-the-verde-rivers-future
Across the [Verde] watershed, thousands of wells draw groundwater from the same aquifers, supplying growing towns like Prescott Valley and Chino Valley. State records show groundwater levels have been declining. Already, some families in communities near the river have watched wells dry up and have turned to relying on plastic storage tanks and paying to have water hauled by truck.   The upper Verde is increasingly threatened.  If pumping continues unchecked, wells will capture more of the water that would otherwise feed the springs. - AZ Central

Right -Sullivan Dam (foreground) and Sullivan Lake (background) near Paulden, Arizona. 


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<![CDATA[Greenhouse Gas Levels Are The Highest Ever Seen — Going Back 800,000 Years]]>Thu, 02 Sep 2021 04:44:52 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/greenhouse-gas-levels-are-the-highest-ever-seen-going-back-800000-yearsGreenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere that contribute to climate change are the highest ever recorded — and that's going back 800,000 years.  Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the concentration of carbon dioxide, one of the primary greenhouse gases, hit 412.5 parts per million in 2020. That's 2.5 parts per million higher than in 2019, and it's now the highest ever observed, the scientists said.  Recording the data is done with modern instrumental methods as well as observing ice core records that date back 800,000 years. - NPR]]><![CDATA[How the Fossil Fuel Industry Convinced Americans to Love Gas Stoves]]>Sun, 22 Aug 2021 18:21:35 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/how-the-fossil-fuel-industry-convinced-americans-to-love-gas-stoves
Over the last hundred years, gas companies have engaged an all-out campaign to convince Americans that cooking with a gas flame is superior to using electric heat. At the same time, they’ve urged us not to think too hard—if at all—about what it means to combust a fossil fuel in our homes. - Mother Jones
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<![CDATA[These Ladies Love Natural Gas! Too Bad They Aren’t Real.]]>Sun, 22 Aug 2021 18:18:06 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/these-ladies-love-natural-gas-too-bad-they-arent-realThe website Women for Natural Gas is a pink-tinged, fancy-cursive-drenched love letter to the oil and gas industry. A prominently featured promo video shows women in hard hats and on rig sites. “Who’s powering the world? We are!” enthuses the narrator. Viewers can click through to a “Herstory” timeline of women working in the oil sector. Another page, about the group’s grassroots network of supporters, announces, “We are women for natural gas,” and shows three professionally dressed ladies alongside their testimonials. There’s a Carey White gushing, “The abundance of oil and gas in Texas helps keep prices at the pump lower.” One Rebecca Washington raves, “Natural gas is a safe, reliable source of energy that provides countless numbers of jobs.”   But there’s a catch: The women don’t exist.  - Mother Jones]]><![CDATA[How to Feed the World Without Destroying the Planet]]>Tue, 17 Aug 2021 18:51:46 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/how-to-feed-the-world-without-destroying-the-planet
Agriculture already uses almost half of the world’s vegetated land. It consumes 90 percent of all the water used by humanity and generates one-quarter of the annual global emissions that are causing global warming. And yet of the seven billion people living today, 820 million are undernourished because they don’t have access to—or can’t afford—an adequate diet.  “We have to produce 30 percent more food on the same land area, stop deforestation, [and] cut carbon emissions for food production by two-thirds,” says Waite in an interview.  All of that must be done while reducing poverty levels and the loss of natural habitat, preventing freshwater depletion, and cutting pollution as well as other environmental impacts of farming.​- National Geographic
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<![CDATA[Starving cows. Fallow farms. The Arizona drought is among the worst in the country]]>Tue, 17 Aug 2021 18:47:54 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/starving-cows-fallow-farms-the-arizona-drought-is-among-the-worst-in-the-country
The alfalfa barely exists.  “Can you even call this a farm?” asked Nancy Caywood, standing on a rural stretch of land her Texas grandfather settled nearly a century ago, drawn by cheap prices and feats of engineering that brought water from afar to irrigate central Arizona’s arid soil.  The canals that used to bring water to the fields of Caywood Farms have gone dry due to the drought.  On the family’s 247 acres an hour south of Phoenix, Caywood grew up tending to cotton and alfalfa, two water-intensive crops that fed off melted mountain snows flowing from a reservoir 120 miles away. She grew up understanding the rhythms of the desert and how fields can blossom despite a rugged, sand-swept terrain where sunlight is a given but water is precious.  Now more than ever. Looking out at her farmland recently, Caywood held back tears. - LATimes
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<![CDATA[IPCC Report Says We're Going to Pass the 1.5°C Climate Threshold. What's Next?]]>Tue, 17 Aug 2021 18:40:49 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/ipcc-report-says-were-going-to-pass-the-15c-climate-threshold-whats-nextThree years ago the United Nations climate science body issued a landmark report warning that the planet was on track to blow past efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, a threshold that it warned would bring catastrophic and irreversible effects of climate change. But in that same report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasized that many paths remained open for us to limit that damage—so long as we acted immediately.  On Monday, the IPCC published a new document with a far less optimistic frame. In it, the group says that the pathway to limit warming to the 1.5°C mark has narrowed and lays out only one plausible scenario to meet that goal—one that would require an extraordinary level of action, and even then, would offer no guarantee. - Time]]><![CDATA[Russian Investigators Probe Big Black Sea Oil Spill]]>Tue, 17 Aug 2021 18:38:04 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/russian-investigators-probe-big-black-sea-oil-spill
Russia's top criminal investigation agency on Thursday probed an oil spill off the country's Black Sea coast that appeared hugely bigger than initially reported.  The spill occurred over the weekend at the oil terminal in Yuzhnaya Ozereyevka near the port of Novorossiysk that belongs to the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, which pumps crude from Kazakhstan. The oil spilled while being pumped into the Minerva Symphony tanker, which sails under the Greek flag. - Phys.Org
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<![CDATA[She asked CNN where her recycling goes.  See what we discovered]]>Tue, 17 Aug 2021 18:26:40 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/she-asked-cnn-where-her-recycling-goes-see-what-we-discoveredCNN found out why.  Lilly Geisler goes to a lot of trouble to recycle. So she left CNN a voicemail asking: How much of my recycling actually gets recycled? John Sutter travels to Muncie, Indiana, to find out. See more from our "Let's Talk About the Climate Apocalypse" series.  (A lot of your plastic isn't being recycled.)  - CNN
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<![CDATA[Don’t Call It a Supervolcano]]>Sat, 14 Aug 2021 04:59:41 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/dont-call-it-a-supervolcano
Scientists dismantle the myths of Yellowstone: Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first and arguably most famous national park, is home to one of the planet’s largest and potentially most destructive volcanoes. The 50- by 70-kilometer Yellowstone caldera complex is so massive that it can really be appreciated only from the air. But although the caldera isn’t always visible on the ground, it’s certainly no secret: Copious thermal features like hot springs and geyser basins dot the landscape and have attracted people to the uniquely beautiful and ecologically rich area for at least 11,000 years. - EOS

Right - The movement of the North American tectonic plate over the Yellowstone hot spot has created a trail of volcanic activity across southern Idaho into Wyoming over the past 16.5 million years. Credit: USGS. Click image for larger version.
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<![CDATA[5 Graphs from the U.N. Climate Report & Our Path to Halting Climate Change]]>Sat, 14 Aug 2021 04:56:04 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/5-graphs-from-the-un-climate-report-our-path-to-halting-climate-change
It has been 8 years, one pandemic, and a slew of wildfires, storms, and heat waves since the last United Nations climate assessment report was released in 2013. During that time, 191 parties signed the Paris Agreement; the United States (the world’s second-largest emitter) left and reentered the agreement; renewable energy outpaced coal in the United States and all fossil fuels in Europe for the first time; and greenhouse gas emissions crashed worldwide during stay-at-home orders before springing back.  It is with this backdrop that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) unveiled its new assessment of global climate science. - EOS

Right - For the past 2,000 years, global surface temperatures stayed relatively constant until an unprecedented rate of warming began in the mid-20th century. Today, the planet’s temperature is 1.09°C (0.95°C to 1.20°C) above what is was in 1850–1900. Historical data came from paleoclimate archives, and recent observations are direct measurements. Shading shows 5% and 95% confidence intervals for historical measurements. Credit: Jenessa Duncombe. Source: IPCC [2021]



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<![CDATA[A mega-dairy is transforming Arizona’s aquifer and farming lifestyles]]>Sat, 14 Aug 2021 04:52:19 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/a-mega-dairy-is-transforming-arizonas-aquifer-and-farming-lifestyles
Nobody knows how many wells have dried up in Sunizona, let alone the entire Willcox Basin, which covers 1,911 square miles in Arizona’s southeast corner, near the New Mexico border. But between 2014 and 2019, records from the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) show that around 20 wells in the Sunizona area were deepened after drying up. In the entire basin during that time, records show that 57 wells were deepened, but interviews and anecdotal accounts place the number at more than 100.- High Country News

Right: Thousands of dairy cows crowd the Coronado Dairy’s feedlot in the Kansas Settlement area near Sunizona, Arizona. - Roberto (Bear) Guerra / High Country News
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<![CDATA[How Yellowcake Shaped the West]]>Sat, 14 Aug 2021 04:47:25 GMThttp://softpath.org/geonews/how-yellowcake-shaped-the-west
The ghosts of the uranium boom continue to haunt the land, water and people - High Country News

Right: Uranium processing mill at Monticello, Utah, owned by the government and operated for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission by the National Lead Company, Inc. This is the only government-owned uranium mill. c. 1957 - U.S. Department of Energy  

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