Sea Ice Level Plummets

November 20, 2016

Weather Underground: "Sea ice extent and area have both plummeted to record lows for this time of year in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Such dramatic losses rarely occur at the same time, which means that the global total of sea ice coverage is phenomenally low for this time of year."


Amtrak Ridership Breaking Records

November 18, 2016

Progressive Railroading:  "Amtrak broke ticket revenue and ridership records and posted its lowest operating loss ever in fiscal-year 2016, according to unaudited results."Passengers-Boarding_80005722.jpg

"The railroad posted a record $2.14 billion in ticket revenue in FY2016, a $12 million increase over FY2015, Amtrak announced yesterday in a press release. All results have yet to be audited."

"The revenue increase was fueled by a record 31.3 million passengers, up nearly 400,000 passengers over the previous fiscal year. FY2016, which ended Sept. 30, was the sixth consecutive year that Amtrak's annual ridership surpassed 30 million passengers, Amtrak officials noted."

"Total revenue was a record $3.2 billion. The railroad posted an operating loss of $227 million, down $78 million from FY2015, and the lowest operating loss since 1973."

"Amtrak covered 94 percent of operating costs with ticket sales and other revenue, up from 92 percent in FY2015. In addition, the railroad made a net reduction in long-term debt of $71.4 million."

Scientists Stunned by Trump Win

November 09, 2016

Scientific American:  "Republican businessman and reality-television star Donald Trump will be the United States’ next president. Although science played only a bit part in this year’s dramatic, hard-fought campaign, many researchers expressed fear and disbelief as Trump defeated former secretary of state Hillary Clinton on 8 November.

“'Trump will be the first anti-science president we have ever had,' says Michael Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society in Washington DC. 'The consequences are going to be very, very severe.'”

Short-Haul Intermodal Big Untapped Area for the Railroads

October 31, 2016

Railway Age:  "Steve Ditmeyer, one of the industry’s visionaries and a frequent contributor to Railway Age articles and conferences, offers this analysis: 'In my humble opinion, short-haul intermodal (250 to 700 miles) represents the only opportunity in the near future for railroads to increase their traffic. And they only need to capture just a small fraction of the total short-haul truck traffic to experience a substantial traffic gain.'"

“'Two things are needed to pull this off. The first is new roll-on, roll-off equipment . . . .  The designs for this equipment already exist, and the carbuilders now find themselves with plenty of excess production capacity.'"

“'The second thing the railroads need is a train control system to enable them to run short-haul intermodal trains on precise schedules. Fortunately, their PTC systems will be coming on line in the next year or so. GPS plus digital communications will provide the continuous real-time information to enable them to execute tightly scheduled operations, should they elect to do so.'"

Mass Extinction Underway

October 28, 2016

The Guardian: "The number of wild animals living on Earth is set to fall by two-thirds by 2020, according to a new report, part of a mass extinction that is destroying the natural world upon which humanity depends."

"The analysis, the most comprehensive to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020. Researchers from WWF and the Zoological Society of London compiled the report from scientific data and found that the destruction of wild habitats, hunting and pollution were to blame."

"The creatures being lost range from mountains to forests to rivers and the seas and include well-known endangered species such as elephants and gorillas and lesser known creatures such as vultures and salamanders."

"The collapse of wildlife is, with climate change, the most striking sign of the Anthropocene, a proposed new geological era in which humans dominate the planet. “We are no longer a small world on a big planet. We are now a big world on a small planet, where we have reached a saturation point,” said Prof Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, in a foreword for the report."

"Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF, said: 'The richness and diversity of life on Earth is fundamental to the complex life systems that underpin it. Life supports life itself and we are part of the same equation. Lose biodiversity and the natural world and the life support systems, as we know them today, will collapse.'”

"He said humanity was completely dependent on nature for clean air and water, food and materials, as well as inspiration and happiness."

Placer County Enforcement Action

October 26, 2016

CCEC has initiated environmental enforcement action against Placer County for actions connected with approval of a sprawling second-home development on 662 acres of forest near Kings Beach at iconic Lake Tahoe. The proceeding addresses the county's--

  • Failure to recognize large traffic impacts on the North Shore
  • Failure to report effects of widening highway 267
  • Failure to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions
  • Failure to consider tree mortality epidemic in the Sierras
  • Failure to fund cycling paths as sustainable transportation
  • Failure to consider clustering of homes as an alternative to sprawl
  • Failure to recognize that second homes don't reduce energy consumption.

Petition for Writ of Mandate can be found here.

Climate Change Has Increased Wildfire Area by 16,000 Square Miles

October 12, 2016

New York Times: "In a new study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists from the University of Idaho and Columbia University have calculated how much of the increased scope and intensity of Western wildfires can be attributed to human-caused climate change and its effects. They state that, since 1979, climate change is responsible for more than half of the dryness of Western forests and the increased length of the fire season. Since 1984, those factors have enlarged the cumulative forest fire area by 16,000 square miles, about the size of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined, they found."

“'People tell me that they’ve never seen fires as active as what they’re battling right now,' Dr. Williams said. 'What we’re seeing in fire world is much different than what we saw in the 1980s, and in the 2030s, fires will be unrecognizable to what we’re seeing now.'"

Cost-Effective Residential Energy Storage Here in 2017

October 09, 2016

Greentech Media: "What the Ice Cub team came up with is sized like a 2.5-ton AC unit, the kind that serves small to medium-sized households. This AC has a special power, though: in between air conditioning cycles or when it's not in use, it freezes water in an insulated tank. It can fill the tank with ice in four hours. Then, on command, the system can switch from conventional AC to using the ice to cool the house for at least three hours, during which time no energy is needed to chill the air."

A Quiet Tragedy

October 05, 2016

The Guardian:  "A quiet crisis playing out in US forests as huge numbers of trees succumb to drought, disease, insects and wildfire – much of it driven by climate change"

Stark Warning from 375 Top Scientists

October 05, 2016

The Guardian:  "Yesterday, 375 of the world’s top scientists, including 30 Nobel Prize winners, published an open letter regarding climate change. In the letter, the scientists report that the evidence is clear: humans are causing climate change. We are now observing climate change and its affect across the globe. The seas are rising, the oceans are warming, the lower atmosphere is warming, the land is warming, ice is melting, rainfall patterns are changing and the ocean is becoming more acidic."

"These facts are incontrovertible. No reputable scientist disputes them. It is the truth."

"Despite these facts, the letter reports that the US presidential campaign has seen claims that the earth isn’t warming, or it is only a natural warming, or that climate change is a hoax. These claims are false."