Climate Change, Toilets & Religion, Acidified Food Chain, Rain Gardens, and Adaptable CA

Plenty of post-Thanksgiving Nooze today: First, from Sam Eaton with The World's PRI, an important question about the future of the planet:

With Stakes Rising, Can We Stop Catastrophic Climate Change?

Stephen Wagner knows hurricane damage. He runs a flood restoration company and has been working in Louisiana since Hurricane Isaac slammed into the gulf coast last summer. When Sandy hit New York, he came straight to Breezy Point, a part of the city hardest hit by this fall’s storm. Wagner says in terms of sheer size, Sandy “blew Katrina away… The surge, full moon, high tide when it came ashore, nine-foot storm surge. There’s nothing that can stop it. Nothing.”

Scientists are debating just how much of a role climate change may have played in Hurricane Sandy’s devastation. But they generally agree that the storm was a glimpse of the future in a rapidly warming world.

For his part, Wagner says he’s worked long enough cleaning up after storms to be convinced that that future is already here... Read, hear and see more.

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Next up, from Meera Subramanian, a though-provoking essay in The Revealer about garbage, toilets, and religion:

Sweeping Air

I am overly pragmatic. Each day seems so finite, and there is so much work to do. Big work, made out of endless little work. Schools to construct. Minds to make literate. Wells to dig and water to purify. Inoculations to give and hair to braid and food to feed growing bodies. So many streets to sweep and toilets to build... Read and see more.

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Craig Welch with The Seattle Times explores the connection between acidification and future of oceanic hierarchy:

Sea changes harming ocean now could someday undermine marine food chain

Scientists years ago figured out that a group of tiny snail-like sea creatures crucial to marine food webs may one day be an early victim of changing ocean chemistry.

Researchers predicted that pteropods, shelled animals known as sea butterflies, could begin dissolving by 2038 as human-caused carbon-dioxide emissions begin souring the seas in a process known as ocean acidification.

But new research by Seattle scientists concludes that corrosive seas are damaging pteropods right now — decades earlier than expected. And that damage was recorded in the south Atlantic Ocean, where surface pH doesn't dip as low as it has off the Washington coast or in Puget Sound... Read more.

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From Lisa Stiffler with Sightline, the next installment in a series on stormwater runoff solutions:

It Takes a Cluster to Build a Rain Garden

As he stands admiring his front-yard rain garden on a recent fall morning, Steve Severin is darn near giddy.

“Isn’t it great?” he asks. “My yard before was all grass. I’m very, very happy.”

A copper “rain chain” that looks like a series of tulip blossoms strung together hangs down from a corner of his roof. At the bottom of the chain is a hammered copper bowl nestled among river rock ready to catch the rain that drips down. The rocks lead downhill to a rain garden planted with small grasses and shrubs. On the other side of the walkway to his front porch is a second, smaller rain garden.

In addition to the rain chain, PVC pipe wraps around Severin’s Ballard-neighorhood house and underground, draining all of the water that hits his 1,800-square-foot roof into the rain gardens.

In an average year in Seattle, Severin’s rain gardens will capture and treat about 41,500 gallons of water that would otherwise have become polluted runoff... Read more.

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And finally, David Helvarg writes in the Los Angels Times about California's response to sea-level rise:

California confronts a sea change

Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey don't need to wait on gridlocked Washington to confront future risks from climate-change intensified storms. They can instead look at how California is already moving forward on common-sense adaptations, and do it themselves. With 3.5 million Californians living within three feet of sea level, and the best available science projecting a 3- to 5-foot rise in sea level for the state by 2100, doing nothing would be irresponsible.

In Northern California, rising sea levels are projected to affect more than a quarter of a million people and threaten more than $60 billion in infrastructure in the San Francisco Bay/Delta region, putting power stations, water-treatment plants, roads, buildings and the San Francisco and Oakland airports (both built on filled wetlands) at risk. In Southern California, scientists point to the loss of 3,000 beachfront homes to major El Niño winter storms in the 1980s as suggestive of what climate change has in store... Read more.