News Update, Spring – 2013
Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears
The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.
Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.
The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.
“It symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling this problem,” said Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that reported the new reading.
Ralph Keeling, who runs another monitoring program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, said a continuing rise could be catastrophic. “It means we are quickly losing the possibility of keeping the climate below what people thought were possibly tolerable thresholds,” he said.
Virtually every automobile ride, every plane trip and, in most places, every flip of a light switch adds carbon dioxide to the air, and relatively little money is being spent to find and deploy alternative technologies.
China is now the largest emitter, but Americans have been consuming fossil fuels extensively for far longer, and experts say the United States is more responsible than any other nation for the high level.
The new measurement came from analyzers atop Mauna Loa, the volcano on the big island of Hawaii that has long been ground zero for monitoring the worldwide trend on carbon dioxide, or CO2. Devices there sample clean, crisp air that has blown thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean, producing a record of rising carbon dioxide levels that has been closely tracked for half a century.
Carbon dioxide above 400 parts per million was first seen in the Arctic last year, and had also spiked above that level in hourly readings at Mauna Loa.
But the average reading for an entire day surpassed that level at Mauna Loa for the first time in the 24 hours that ended at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday. The two monitoring programs use slightly different protocols; NOAA reported an average for the period of 400.03 parts per million, while Scripps reported 400.08.
Carbon dioxide rises and falls on a seasonal cycle, and the level will dip below 400 this summer as leaf growth in the Northern Hemisphere pulls about 10 billion tons of carbon out of the air. But experts say that will be a brief reprieve — the moment is approaching when no measurement of the ambient air anywhere on earth, in any season, will produce a reading below 400.
“It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” said Maureen E. Raymo, a scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a unit of Columbia University.
From studying air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists know that going back 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide level oscillated in a tight band, from about 180 parts per million in the depths of ice ages to about 280 during the warm periods between. The evidence shows that global temperatures and CO2 levels are tightly linked.
For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable near that upper bound. But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial Revolution, a mere geological instant, and scientists say the climate is beginning to react, though they expect far larger changes in the future.
Indirect measurements suggest that the last time the carbon dioxide level was this high was at least three million years ago, during an epoch called the Pliocene. Geological research shows that the climate then was far warmer than today, the world’s ice caps were smaller, and the sea level might have been as much as 60 or 80 feet higher.
Experts fear that humanity may be precipitating a return to such conditions — except this time, billions of people are in harm’s way.
“It takes a long time to melt ice, but we’re doing it,” Dr. Keeling said. “It’s scary.”
Dr. Keeling’s father, Charles David Keeling, began carbon dioxide measurements on Mauna Loa and at other locations in the late 1950s. The elder Dr. Keeling found a level in the air then of about 315 parts per million — meaning that if a person had filled a million quart jars with air, about 315 quart jars of carbon dioxide would have been mixed in.
His analysis revealed a relentless, long-term increase superimposed on the seasonal cycle, a trend that was dubbed the Keeling Curve.
Countries have adopted an official target to limit the damage from global warming, with 450 parts per million seen as the maximum level compatible with that goal. “Unless things slow down, we’ll probably get there in well under 25 years,” Ralph Keeling said.
Yet many countries, including China and the United States, have refused to adopt binding national targets. Scientists say that unless far greater efforts are made soon, the goal of limiting the warming will become impossible without severe economic disruption.
“If you start turning the Titanic long before you hit the iceberg, you can go clear without even spilling a drink of a passenger on deck,” said Richard B. Alley, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. “If you wait until you’re really close, spilling a lot of drinks is the best you can hope for.”
Climate-change contrarians, who have little scientific credibility but are politically influential in Washington, point out that carbon dioxide represents only a tiny fraction of the air — as of Thursday’s reading, exactly 0.04 percent. “The CO2 levels in the atmosphere are rather undramatic,” a Republican congressman from California, Dana Rohrabacher, said in a Congressional hearing several years ago.
But climate scientists reject that argument, saying it is like claiming that a tiny bit of arsenic or cobra venom cannot have much effect. Research shows that even at such low levels, carbon dioxide is potent at trapping heat near the surface of the earth.
“If you’re looking to stave off climate perturbations that I don’t believe our culture is ready to adapt to, then significant reductions in CO2 emissions have to occur right away,” said Mark Pagani, a Yale geochemist who studies climates of the past. “I feel like the time to do something was yesterday.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: May 10, 2013
An earlier version of this article misstated the amount of carbon dioxide in the air as of Thursday’s reading from monitors. It is .04 percent, not .0004 percent.
BEE report from EU – 4-23-13
“Here are Bayer’s own descriptions of what imidacloprid does to insect colonies. Below are extracts from two of Bayer’s documents of the various mechanisms by which imidacloprid kills termites (Premise 200sc brochure attached) and a link to “The Secret Life of Termites.” http://www.research.bayer.com/en/20-termites.pdfx
• Unlike other termiticides, termites cannot detect the treated zone.
• Termites stop feeding, grooming and become disorientated.
• Imidacloprid binds to the nicotinergic acetylcholine receptors, which leads to paralysis and eventual death.
• When termites stop grooming the naturally-occurring fungi in the soil kill the termite. Premise 200sc makes fungi 10,000 times more dangerous to termites. Nature assists Premise in giving unsurpassed control.
• When one termite meets another it uses its mouthparts to clean and tidy it. The active substance is passed on. It has the potential to affect the entire population very quickly.
• Termites disappeared within a week or two from the soil; after 3 months colonies were eliminated. After 2 years not one of these colonies has recovered.
In Denmark similar imidacloprid preparations are sold in Garden Centres for destroying ant colonies (Bayer Myre Lokkdåse and Kvit Myre Sirup).
For termites and ants substitute the word “honeybees”
From their description of the actions of Premise 200sc, Bayer knew from the beginning that imidacloprid was an effective and long-term killer of insect colonies, be they termites, ants, wild bees or managed honey bees. Individuals stop feeding and grooming, become disorientated, paralysed and die. They also become susceptible to fungal pathogens in the soil. “Premise 200sc makes fungi 10,000 times more dangerous to termites. Nature assists Premise in giving unsurpassed control”.
Yesterday the COLOSS organisation (in close collaboration with the research consortium BEE DOC) made a definitive statement with regard to honey bee health. “The mite Varroa destructor in combination with viruses is the main threat to honey bee colonies”.
Neonicotinoid insecticides have “unsurpassed control” over immune systems
In combination with naturally occurring pathogens, the neonicotinoid insecticides have “unsurpassed control” over the immune systems of many species, including those of honey bees and bumblebees. That is why Varroa destructor has turned into a killer of honey bees. The US EPA scientists had warned the US EPA Registration Division about the problem of immune suppression when clothianidin was given conditional registration in 2003. http://www.epa.gov/opprd001/factsheets/clothianidin.pdf
Massive global declines in other wildlife (attached paper in press)
Amphibians populations around the world have been devastated by Batratrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a chytrid fungus; bat colonies have been wiped out by the fungus Geomyces destructans; Medaka fish in rice paddy fields have been infected and weakened by a Trichodina ectoparasite; wild pink salmon on the Pacific Coast of British Columbia by Lepeophtheirus salmonis; wild house finches in the US by Mycoplasma gallisepticum; greenfinches in Europe by Trichomonas gallinae; blue tits by acute necrotising pneumonitis; avian pox produces tumours in great tits; chaffinches have papillomatous growths on their legs. The global biodiversity losses, which have been suppressed by the media, are devastating.
Can honey bees recover if Europe votes for a ban neonicotinoid insecticides?
7th Report – Pollinators and Pesticides – Volume I | PDF version7th Report – Pollinators and Pesticides – Volume I ( )
When asked by MPs in the Environmental Audit Committee on insects and insecticides about the half lives in soil of imidacloprid and clothianidin, Dr Julian Little of Bayer CropScience replied “16-200 days” (p 18). In fact, the EAC had found two UK studies in the 1990s in the industry Draft Assessment Report that EFSA (at its reassessment of imidacloprid in 2006) had identified as a data gap: “At the two UK study sites accumulation occurred over the full 6 year duration of the studies and the experts considered that a plateau was not reached”(p 17). Bayer was in accord with Dr Little’s figures when it issued an ‘Imidacloprid-Expert-Overview’ in 2001 in response to a Pesticide Fact Sheet that said otherwise. http://www.beekeeping.com/articles/us/imidacloprid_bayer.htm
“Practical trials conducted under northern European conditions showed the half-life for dissipation to be less than six months.”
With regard to its behaviour in water: “Though imidacloprid is not intended to be applied directly in water, it nevertheless may enter water bodies due to spray drift or in extreme situations by runoff from treated fields after rainfall. It has been shown that no unacceptable harmful effects would occur under these circumstances as the substance will undergo complete elimination from water by photolytic reactions and by microbial activity.”
The conclusion was that: “The use of imidacloprid in agriculture does not entail unacceptable harmful effects for the environment as the substance will disappear under all circumstances from the compartments soil, water and air”.
No-one told Bayer that microbes are invertebrates. The neonicotinoid insecticides destroy the very organisms that are meant to break them down in soil and water.
Addition to Appendix 2: Independent research on glyphosate
This review has just been published on glyphosate’s suppression of enzymes in the gut. This provides an explanation for modern diseases that affect humans on a Western diet.
Samsel, A., Seneff, S. Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases Entropy 2013, 15, 1-x manuscripts; doi:10.3390/ e140x000x
Abstract: Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, is the most popular herbicide used worldwide. The industry asserts it is minimally toxic to humans, but here we argue otherwise. Residues are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat. Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology, one of which is to detoxify xenobiotics. Thus, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Here, we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. We explain the documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is the “textbook example” of exogenous semiotic entropy: the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins.
The Government’s call for GMO crops, food and animal feed is grossly misguided
The only GM crops that are ready and waiting to be launched are glyphosate-tolerant and have neonicotinoid insecticides on the seeds. In January 2012, Monsanto Europe asked EFSA to raise the import tolerance for glyphosate in lentils “in order to accommodate the authorised desiccation use of glyphosate in lentils in the US and Canada” from 0.1 mg/kg to 10 mg/kg (i.e. 100 times). Similar increases had been granted on wheat and GM soya.”
~Rosemary Mason MB ChB FRCA on behalf of a global network of beekeepers, toxicologists, scientists, farmers and environmentalists