Wednesday, September 7, 2016

This is New York in the not-so-distant future

(This article contains information that mirror many of the I AM America Prophecies. - Lori)

[New York Magazine] Klaus Jacob, a German professor affiliated with Columbia’s University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is a geophysicist by profession and a doomsayer by disposition. I’ve gotten to know him over the past few years, as I’ve sought to understand the greatest threat to life in New York as we know it. Jacob has a white beard and a ponderous accent: Imagine if Werner Herzog happened to be a renowned expert on disaster risk. Jacob believes most people live in an irrational state of “risk denial,” and he takes delight in dispelling their blissful ignorance. “If you want to survive an earthquake, don’t buy a brownstone,” he once cautioned me, citing the catastrophic potential of a long-dormant fault line that runs under the city. When Mayor Bloomberg announced nine years ago an initiative to plant a million trees, Jacob thought, That’s nice — but what about tornadoes?
For the past 15 years or so, Jacob has been primarily preoccupied with a more existential danger: the rising sea. The latest scientific findings suggest that a child born today in this island metropolis may live to see the waters around it swell by six feet, as the previously hypothetical consequences of global warming take on an escalating — and unstoppable — force. “I have made it my mission,” Jacob says, “to think long term.” The life span of a city is measured in centuries, and New York, which is approaching its fifth, probably doesn’t have another five to go, at least in any presently recognizable form. Instead, Jacob has said, the city will become a “gradual Atlantis.”
The deluge will begin slowly, and irregularly, and so it will confound human perceptions of change. Areas that never had flash floods will start to experience them, in part because global warming will also increase precipitation. High tides will spill over old bulkheads when there is a full moon. People will start carrying galoshes to work. All the commercial skyscrapers, housing, cultural institutions that currently sit near the waterline will be forced to contend with routine inundation. And cataclysmic floods will become more common, because, to put it simply, if the baseline water level is higher, every storm surge will be that much stronger. Now, a surge of six feet has a one percent chance of happening each year — it’s what climatologists call a “100 year” storm. By 2050, if sea-level rise happens as rapidly as many scientists think it will, today’s hundred-year floods will become five times more likely, making mass destruction a once-a-generation occurrence. Like a stumbling boxer, the city will try to keep its guard up, but the sea will only gain strength. Read More

Are Aliens Talking To Us?

[NPR] On Aug. 15, the news broke that a Russian radio telescope detected strong signals from outer space.
The signals allegedly originated from a star 95 light-years from Earth. Just to clarify, this means that the signal would have left the star or, potentially, an orbiting planet, 95 years ago. Radio waves — as do any electromagnetic wave including visible light — travel in empty space at the speed of light, about 186,000 miles per second. You blink your eyes and light goes seven and a half times around the Earth.
The signal was detected last year but only made public last month. Scientists from the RATAN-600 radio antenna in Zelenchukskaya were cautious, but still believed the source deserved permanent monitoring. The signal seems to be isotropic, that is, beamed with the same power in all directions. For this to happen, and assuming it came from an intelligent source, the responsible civilization would have to be a Kardashev Type II, a kind of civilization with a technology way more advanced than our own. We are still a Kardashev Type I, capable of harnessing the energy that reaches us from our star (the sun). A Type II is capable of harnessing the energy of the entire star, for example, by encompassing the whole star with a device that can efficiently absorb a large fraction of its enormous radiation. Read More

Monday, September 5, 2016

Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun

[NY Times] Huge vertical rulers are sprouting beside low spots in the streets here, so people can judge if the tidal floods that increasingly inundate their roads are too deep to drive through.
Five hundred miles down the Atlantic Coast, the only road to Tybee Island, Ga., is disappearing beneath the sea several times a year, cutting the town off from the mainland.
And another 500 miles on, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., increased tidal flooding is forcing the city to spend millions fixing battered roads and drains — and, at times, to send out giant vacuum trucks to suck saltwater off the streets.
For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline.
Now, those warnings are no longer theoretical: The inundation of the coast has begun. The sea has crept up to the point that a high tide and a brisk wind are all it takes to send water pouring into streets and homes.
Federal scientists have documented a sharp jump in this nuisance flooding — often called “sunny-day flooding” — along both the East Coast and the Gulf Coast in recent years. The sea is now so near the brim in many places that they believe the problem is likely to worsen quickly. Shifts in the Pacific Ocean mean that the West Coast, partly spared over the past two decades, may be hit hard, too.
These tidal floods are often just a foot or two deep, but they can stop traffic, swamp basements, damage cars, kill lawns and forests, and poison wells with salt. Moreover, the high seas interfere with the drainage of storm water.
In coastal regions, that compounds the damage from the increasingly heavy rains plaguing the country, like those that recently caused extensive flooding in Louisiana. Scientists say these rains are also a consequence of human greenhouse emissions.
“Once impacts become noticeable, they’re going to be upon you quickly,” said William V. Sweet, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, Md., who is among the leaders in research on coastal inundation. “It’s not a hundred years off — it’s now.”
Local governments, under pressure from annoyed citizens, are beginning to act. Elections are being won on promises to invest money to protect against flooding. Miami Beach is leading the way, increasing local fees to finance a $400 million plan that includes raising streets, installing pumps and elevating sea walls.
In many of the worst-hit cities, mayors of both parties are sounding an alarm.
“I’m a Republican, but I also realize, by any objective analysis, the sea level is rising,” said Jason Buelterman, the mayor of tiny Tybee Island, one of the first Georgia communities to adopt a detailed climate plan. Read More

Meditation or Vacation, what is better?

[Indian Panorama News] Researchers have been using a rigorous study design to assess the biological impact of meditation as compared to going on a vacation.
Examining the effect of meditation on gene expression patterns in both novice and regular meditators, they found that a resort vacation provides a strong and immediate impact on molecular networks associated with stress and immune pathways, in addition to short- term improvements in well-being, as measured by feelings of vitality and distress.
A meditation retreat for those, who already used meditation regularly, was associated with molecular networks characterized by antiviral activity.
The molecular signature of long-term meditators was distinct from the non-meditating vacationers.
The study involved 94 healthy women, aged 30-60. Sixty-four women were recruited who were not regular meditators.
Participants stayed at the same resort in California for six days, and randomized so that half were simply on vacation while the other half joined a meditation training program for Well Being.
The meditation program included training in mantra meditation, yoga, and self reflection exercises.
For greater insight into the long-term effects of what scientists dubbed the
“meditation effect” compared to the “vacation effect,” the team also studied a group of 30 experienced meditators who were already enrolled in the retreat that week.
Researchers collected blood samples, and surveys, from all participants immediately before and after their stay, as well as surveys one month and ten months later.
Eric Schadt, the senior author said, “In the spirit of other research efforts we have pioneered with other groups, this work underscores the importance of studies focused on healthy people. By combining an interrogation of gene networks with advanced data analysis and statistics, we have generated clinically meaningful information about stress and aging that is relevant to the broader population.”
The research team examined the changes in 20,000 genes to determine which types of genes were changing before and after the resort experience.
Scientists performed an integrative transcriptomic analysis, comparing gene expression networks across all three groups of participants and finding unique molecular profiles and pathway enrichment patterns.
Study results show that all groups, novice meditators, experienced meditators, and vacationers had significant changes in molecular network patterns after the week at the resort, with a clear signature distinguishing baseline from post-vacation biology.
The most notable changes in gene activity were related to stress response and immune function. Read More

State of emergency declared in Oklahoma after record earthquake

[PBS] Oklahoma’s governor on Saturday declared a state of emergency for Pawnee County located near the epicenter of one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in the state.
The 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck Saturday morning about 8 miles northwest of Pawnee City, damaging buildings, shaking food from shelves in local supermarkets and sending shock waves through several Midwestern states.
Gov. Mary Fallin said in a statement that no injuries were reported and damage was limited, though the state of emergency designation for Pawnee County would open up funding for disaster relief and emergency preparedness and could bring in federal aid.
Saturday’s earthquake equaled another 5.6 earthquake recorded in 2011 in Oklahoma’s Lincoln County, the largest ever documented in the state.
Oklahoma has seen a rapid rise in the number of earthquakes over the last six years, which scientists link to the use of wastewater by the oil and gas industry.
While the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is often associated with the uptick in Oklahoma earthquakes, some studies show earthquakes may instead be caused by companies pulling gas and oil from water found underground, then back into the earth through disposal wells.
Historically, the state saw just two magnitude 3 earthquakes or higher per year prior to 2009, though that number surged to more than 900 in 2015 after domestic production of oil and gas increased along with the amount of wastewater.
Earlier this year, state regulators curbed the amount of wastewater that the oil and gas industry can inject thousands of feet into the Arbuckle formation, a sedimentary rock layer found under Oklahoma that rests above fault lines. Read More

How to feed the masses in small-town America

[High Country News] Ten years ago, plagued by equipment failures and increasingly sluggish sales, the only grocery store in tiny Walsh, Colorado, closed its doors. But the town’s 600 residents, suddenly facing a 40-mile round trip for food, didn’t despair. Instead, they pooled their money and reopened the historic Walsh Community Grocery Store, a fixture in their town since 1928, as a community-owned store.
Today, the store is turning a profit, and has just one payment left on a $160,000 loan it used to restock and remodel. The shop’s strategy of combining smart community organizing and traditional business acumen is a model for other tiny towns struggling to maintain local grocery stores, even as dollar stores and their frozen wares take over main streets throughout rural America. Roughly 6,000 dollar stores have opened in the U.S. since 2010, according to the retail research firm Conlumino. For at least one chain, Dollar General, the large majority are in towns of 20,000 people or less — places too small for big box stores, like Wal-Mart, but perfect for a dollar store’s slightly smaller shop.
In rural communities, grocery stores — part economic driver, part community builder, and part food supplier — are key institutions, according to an analysis by the Center for Rural Affairs. But keeping them alive isn’t easy. Profit margins are low in the grocery business, and most chain stores accumulate earnings through volume. At small-scale stores like the one in Walsh, the limited clientele means limited sales and, perhaps, bankruptcy. An analysis of rural food cooperatives by the University of Wisconsin found that the most successful stores were the sole grocery store within 20 to 30 miles — in other words, the ones that faced the least competition.
The arrival of dollar stores, and the closure of local grocers, can turn rural areas into food deserts. When fresh food doesn’t reach the people who need it, or when it’s too expensive for most residents to afford, the result can be a cycle of malnutrition, poor health, and poverty.
Walsh’s grocery, however, is thriving, thanks in large part to meticulous inventory management. (Think mark-ups, though still within reason, for coveted fresh produce, and steep discounts for staples like milk.) The store’s profits fold back into the business, which has 18 mostly part-time employees. Revenue from shares issued to townspeople at $50 each, plus a no-interest loan from the Southeast Colorado Power Association, helped get the business off the ground in 2006. Once the loan is paid off, Jones said, shareholders may start receiving an annual dividend. This year, for the first time in a half-decade, the store posted a profit during summer months.
“I was skeptical when we started,” said Clarence Jones, chairman of the Walsh Community Grocery Store board and a former Walsh mayor. “But people were so enthusiastic that it became a reality pretty quick.”
Community-owned stores aren’t the only fix for towns struggling to retain their food purveyors. Small towns have experimented with cooperatives, public-private partnerships, school-based stores and even nonprofit organizations. And perhaps no community has broken more ground than Saguache, Colorado, a town of 500 that lies 35 miles from the nearest full-service grocery store. Read More