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Once-mighty Aral Sea reduced to largely salt: The central Asian body of water, exploited for irrigation for decades, is almost gone NASA photos show

Striking photos from NASA show that the Aral Sea, once the fourth largest lake in the world, has shrunk to its smallest size in modern history. Dwindling water stocks follow more than five decades of humans siphoning from the rivers that feed the sea and a recent summer that was hotter and drier than usual.

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Photo credit: NASA

Story by: Wilson Dizard 

Vice: Yes, and in Canada now, as a journalist for example, if I am to reach out to a federally funded scientist, I’m put through a PR person who will vet my questions, who may never respond to me, and who will certainly monitor the scientist’s potential responses.

Bill Nye: I know! It’s quite extreme. It’s really something.

Vice: What do you think about our government limiting the way scientists can speak to the public?

Bill Nye: Well, it’s not in anyone’s best interests. So, speaking as a guy from the US, we have a very similar problem. Some people would say it’s the same problem… The thing that’s gone badly is that the people who want to maintain the status quo of fossil-fuel burning have managed to introduce the idea that scientific uncertainty [on climate change] is the same as doubt about the whole thing. And that [trend has] justified in many legislators’ minds, both in the US and especially in Canada, particularly Western Canada, that It’s OK, the science of climate change isn’t proven, and let’s just carry on. And that’s just not in anybody’s best interest.

Vice: Do you think the funders of scientific research are entitled to control the publication of the scientists’ results? Obviously the Harper government thinks they’re in a position to say, “No, you can’t tell people what we discovered, because we paid for it.”

Bill Nye: I think that it’s not in anyone’s best interest. It’s certainly not in the spirit of academia, and it’s this thing where you don’t trust it. That is to say, somebody thinks he or she knows better than the guy or gal doing the research. And that’s obviously wrong.

The suppression of knowledge is why things go wrong. I’m not saying you don’t want to keep secrets for military or national-security reasons, but the science of climate change is, by many reasonable estimates, more strongly proven (or the research is more robust) than the connection between cigarettes and cancer.

Via BILL NYE TALKS ABOUT CANADIAN OIL AND THE CERTAINTY OF CLIMATE CHANGE (via mindblowingscience)

(Source: allthecanadianpolitics)

Political Straightjacket | George Monbiot

lostdollsclub:

Less a matter of closing the gate after the horse has bolted, and more one of opening the gate to let the damned cavalry through!

Or

The importance of governance.

So what’s the difference? Why is the Montreal Protocol effective while the Kyoto Protocol and subsequent efforts to prevent climate breakdown are not?

Part of the answer must be that the fossil fuel industry is much bigger than the halogenated hydrocarbon industry, and its lobbying power much greater. Retiring fossil fuel is technically just as feasible as replacing ozone-depleting chemicals, given the wide range of technologies for generating useful energy, but politically much tougher.

—George Monbiot (Sep. 11, 2014).

Time to Update 1980s Air Quality Standards for Drilling in the Arctic | Center for American Progress

rjzimmerman:

Excerpt:

Oil drilling in the Arctic poses numerous environmental risks, one of which is increasing emissions of soot- and smog-forming pollutants. Air pollution from offshore drilling operations poses unique risks in the Arctic—risks not found in the Gulf of Mexico, the other federal body of water under BOEM’s jurisdiction. For example, the Inupiat people and other native Alaskans spend days, if not longer, hunting, whaling, and fishing as part of their subsistence culture. And oil drilling releases black carbon, a light-absorbing component of particulate matter 2.5, or soot. Although black carbon—a super greenhouse gas—is also released in the Gulf, CAP has shown that it is a particularly potent accelerator of warming and snow and ice melt in the Arctic.

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