Doing Advance Work

News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Filthy Rio water threatens 2016 Olympics, raw sewage flows into beach water, water filled 'with putrid sludge' and 'littered with rotting fish,' would be closed 'immediately' if in US, per AP. Two blowout UN Rio climate summits prove the climate industry has nothing to do with climate, just a US led fraud to transfer money from poor to rich and demonize relatively clean Americans

7/30/15, "Dirty Rio Water a Threat at 2016 Olympics," AP, Brad Brooks, Jenny Barchfield, Rio de Janeiro

2015, Rio Guanabara Bay
"The waters where Olympians will compete in swimming and boating events next summer in South America's first games are rife with human sewage and present a serious health risk for athletes, as well as for visitors to the iconic beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

An Associated Press investigation found dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from sewage in venues where athletes will compete in the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic water sports.

In the first independent comprehensive testing for both viruses and bacteria at the Olympic sites, the AP conducted four rounds of tests starting in March. The results have alarmed international experts and dismayed competitors training in Rio, some of whom have already have fallen ill with fevers, vomiting and diarrhea.

These ailments could knock an athlete out for days, potentially curtailing Olympics dreams and the years of hard training behind them.

"This is by far the worst water quality we've ever seen in our sailing careers," said Ivan Bulaja, a coach for the Austrian team, which has spent months training on the Guanabara Bay. "I am quite sure if you swim in this water and it goes into your mouth or nose that quite a lot of bad things are coming inside your body."

Sailor David Hussl has already fallen ill.

"I've had high temperatures and problems with my stomach," Hussl said. "It's always one day completely in bed and then usually not sailing for two or three days."

Water pollution has long plagued Brazil's urban areas, where most sewage isn't collected, let alone treated. In Rio, much of the waste runs through open-air ditches to fetid streams and rivers that feed the Olympic water sites and blight the city's picture postcard beaches. Brazilian authorities pledged that a major overhaul of the city's waterways would be among the Olympics' most significant legacies. But the stench of raw sewage still greets travelers touching down at Rio's international airport.
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Prime beaches remain deserted because the surf is thick with putrid sludge, and periodic die-offs leave the Olympic lake littered with rotting fish.

More than 10,000 athletes hailing from over 200 countries are expected to compete in the Aug. 5-21, 2016, games. Nearly 1,400 of them will come into contact with waters that have suffered from rampant sewage pollution, as they sail in the Guanabara Bay; swim off of Copacabana Beach; and canoe and row on the brackish waters of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake. And starting next week, hundreds of athletes will take to the waters in Olympic trial events.

Brazilian officials insist the waters will be safe, but the AP testing over five months found not one venue fit for swimming or boating, according to international experts, who say it's too late for a cleanup.

"What you have there is basically raw sewage," said John Griffith, a marine biologist at the independent Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Griffith examined the protocols, methodology and results of the AP tests. "It's all the water from the toilets and the showers and whatever people put down their sinks, all mixed up, and it's going out into the beach waters."

In the U.S., Griffith said, areas with such levels of contamination "would be shut down immediately." Brazilian officials who oversee water quality at the Olympic sites said they are not monitoring for viruses.

1992 Rio Climate Summit, Al Gore (R)

But Leonardo Daemon, coordinator of water quality monitoring for the state's environmental agency, said officials are strictly following Brazilian regulations on water quality, which are all based on bacteria levels.

"What would be the standard that should be followed for the quantity of virus? Because the presence or absence of virus in the water ... needs to have a standard, a limit," he said. "You don't have a standard for the quantity of virus in relation to human health when it comes to contact with water."

Fernando Spilki, a top Brazilian virologist, carried out four rounds of viral and bacterial water testing for the AP, collecting samples at three Olympic sites.

Spilki's testing looked for three different types of human adenovirus that are typical "markers" of human sewage in Brazil. In addition, he tested for enteroviruses, the most common cause of upper respiratory tract infections in the young, which can also lead to brain and heart ailments. He also tested for rotavirus, the main cause of gastroenteritis globally.

The test results consistently found high counts of active and infectious human adenoviruses, which cause explosive diarrhea, violent vomiting, respiratory trouble and other illnesses.


The AP found another Olympic site thought to have been largely cleaned up in recent years, the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, is among the games' most polluted waters. Results ranged from 14 million adenoviruses per liter to 1.7 billion per liter.

By comparison, water quality experts who monitor beaches in Southern California become alarmed by viral counts spiking to 1,000 per liter.

"Everybody runs the risk of infection in these polluted waters," said Dr. Carlos Terra, a hepatologist and head of a Rio-based association of doctors specializing in liver disease. Terra said approximately 60 percent of Brazilian adults have been exposed to hepatitis A, primarily because of exposure to sewage.

Kristina Mena, an associate professor of public health at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and an expert in water risk assessment, examined the AP data and estimated international athletes at all water venues would have a 99 percent chance of being infected by the pathogens if they ingested just three teaspoons of water, although this doesn't automatically mean a person would fall ill. That depends on immunity and many other factors.

Brazilians are exposed from childhood and build up immunities. But foreign athletes and tourists won't have that protection.

Dr. Alberto Chebabo, who heads Rio's Infectious Diseases Society, warned that all foreigners heading to Rio for the Olympics, whether athletes or tourists, should get vaccinated against hepatitis A. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends travelers to Brazil get vaccinated for typhoid."


———
"Associated Press sports writer Stephen Wade and senior producer Yesica Fisch contributed to this report."















Above image, Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ethanol blends are even worse for air quality when used in cold temperatures yet are being promoted in areas like northern Europe where very low temperatures are common-Atmospheric Environment study, Sept. 2015

Sept. 2015, "Primary emissions and secondary organic aerosol formation from the exhaust of a flex-fuel (ethanol) vehicle," Atmospheric Environment, sciencedirect.com, R. Suarez-Bertoaa, , et al.

"Abstract

Incentives to use biofuels may result in increasing vehicular emissions of compounds detrimental to air quality. Therefore, regulated and unregulated emissions from a Euro 5a flex-fuel vehicle, tested using E85 and E75 blends (gasoline containing 85% and 75% of ethanol (vol/vol), respectively), were investigated at 22 and −7 °C over the New European Driving Cycle, at the Vehicle Emission Laboratory at the European Commission Joint Research Centre Ispra, Italy. Vehicle exhaust was comprehensively analyzed at the tailpipe and in a dilution tunnel. A fraction of the exhaust was injected into a mobile smog chamber to study the photochemical aging of the mixture. We found that emissions from a flex-fuel vehicle, fueled by E85 and E75, led to secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation, despite the low aromatic content of these fuel blends. Emissions of regulated and unregulated compounds, as well as emissions of black carbon (BC) and primary organic aerosol (POA) and SOA formation were higher at −7 °C. The flex-fuel unregulated emissions, mainly composed of ethanol and acetaldehyde, resulted in very high ozone formation potential and SOA, especially at low temperature (860 mg O3 km−1 and up to 38 mg C kg−1). After an OH exposure of 10 × 106 cm−3 h, SOA mass was, on average, 3 times larger than total primary particle mass emissions (BC + POA) with a high O:C ratio (up to 0.7 and 0.5 at 22 and −7 °C, respectively) typical of highly oxidized mixtures. Furthermore, high resolution organic mass spectra showed high 44/43 ratios (ratio of the ions m/z 44 and m/z 43) characteristic of low-volatility oxygenated organic aerosol. We also hypothesize that SOA formation from vehicular emissions could be due to oxidation products of ethanol and acetaldehyde, both short-chain oxygenated VOCs, e.g. methylglyoxal and acetic acid, and not only from aromatic compounds.

1. Introduction

The use of biofuels is increasing worldwide as a result of a promotion to meet the growing demand of transport related energy as well as to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (European Commission, 2009). Biofuels were seen as a measure to reduce emissions of GHGs from road transport because they were considered CO2 neutral.
The EU has set a target of 10% share of renewable energy in the transport sector, to be complied with by 2020 (2009/28/EC). Biofuels covered 4.3% of this share in 2010 (80% biodiesel, 20% ethanol) (European Commission, 2013).
Previous studies have suggested that increasing ethanol content in fuel blends reduces the emission of some regulated gases (CO and total hydrocarbons, THC) and CO2 (Clairotte et al., 2013, Durbin et al., 2007, Graham et al., 2008 and Andrade et al., 1998). However, despite promising benefits in terms of reducing regulated compounds and CO2 emissions, it has been shown that higher ethanol concentrations in fuel blends lead to higher emissions of ethanol and carbonyl compounds, mainly acetaldehyde, which are associated with urban air pollution and the formation of persistent pollutants (Clairotte et al., 2013, Durbin et al., 2007, Graham et al., 2008 and Andrade et al., 1998). In the atmosphere, ethanol is a precursor of acetaldehyde and peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN); hence, a change in the ethanol emissions will affect atmospheric composition and chemistry. Photochemical oxidation by OH radicals is the main atmospheric sink of ethanol (Atkinson et al., 2006). Ethanol's atmospheric life time is about 4 days (Atkinson et al., 2006), with acetaldehyde being the main oxidation product at ∼95% yield. Acetaldehyde is classified as a hazardous air pollutant by the U.S. EPA (Chemical Summary for Acetaldehyde), and its subsequent oxidation can also lead to production of ozone (O3) and PAN. Thus, the fate of atmospheric reactive nitrogen (NOy) could be affected by an increase in the PAN to NOy ratio (Millet et al., 2012a). Moreover, modeling studies have reported that in the case of a considerable shift from gasoline to ethanol blends, urban ozone levels would increase (Cook et al., 2011, Diana and Mark, 2012 and Jacobson, 2007).

Previous studies have shown that, while in some metropolitan areas formaldehyde is almost always the predominant carbonyl emitted by vehicles (acetaldehyde/formaldehyde ratio emitted <1 b=""> for Brazilian cities acetaldehyde/formaldehyde ratios
are ≥1 (Corrêa et al., 2003, Nguyen et al., 2001 and Corrêa et al., 2010). This behavior has been attributed to the use of ethanol and gasohol (gasoline with 24% of ethanol content) as fuels (Corrêa et al., 2003, Nguyen et al., 2001 and Corrêa et al., 2010). Incomplete combustion of ethanol results in higher acetaldehyde emission compared to formaldehyde. Carbonyl compounds are among the main volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in the atmosphere of cities where ethanol blended fuels are used (Corrêa et al., 2010). They are also the main ozone precursors in those cities (Corrêa et al., 2010).

Atmospheric reactions of VOCs have been of great interest for the study of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation. SOA is a major contributor to airborne particulate matter (Hallquist et al., 2009), which is associated with adverse health effects (Pope et al., 2002). SOA not only impoverishes air quality but also has an impact on climate via scattering and, absorption of light as well as aerosol–cloud interactions (Ramaswamy et al., 2007, Orlando et al., 1999 and Saleh et al., 2014)....

4. Conclusions

The results obtained in our study show that widespread use of vehicles running on high ethanol-content fuel blends, E85 and E75, needs to be thoroughly evaluated due to the negative effects that their emissions may have on urban air quality....

Emissions factors of all the compounds studied increased at the lower temperature. The FFV emissions resulted in a high ozone formation potential (OFP), which was nearly 4 times higher at lower temperature (218 and 860 mg O3 km−1 at 22 and −7 °C, respectively)....These results show that SOA formation from vehicular exhaust can arise from the reaction and/or oxidation of small functionalized molecules such as acetaldehyde and ethanol and not only from aromatics, as it is often hypothesized....

The use of flex-fuel vehicles with high ethanol content fuel blends is being promoted in regions like northern Europe, where very low temperature is a common scenario. The extensive use of these vehicles at low temperature will result in high emissions of ethanol and acetaldehyde that may lead to large formation of O3 and SOA....
Acknowledgments

The VELA staff is acknowledged for the skilful technical assistance, in particular M. Cadario, R. Colombo, G. Lanappe, P. Le Lijour, F. Muehlberger, and M. Sculati as well as Rene Richter from PSI. We acknowledge the financial support by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Swiss Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SAPMAV 200021_13016). The authors also acknowledge the MASSALYA instrumental platform (Aix Marseille Université, lce.univ-amu.fr) for the provision of the PTR-ToF-MS measurements used in this publication and the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME, Grant numbers 1162C0002 and 1262C0017)."




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Twenty percent of 500,000 population in Delhi, India has no access to piped water and is forced to buy water from mafia with no interference from law enforcement or politicians-BBC

7/28/15, "Water mafia: Why Delhi is buying water on the black market," BBC News, Delhi, by Sanjoy Majumder

In the congested Delhi neighbourhood Sangam Vihar, home to 500,000 people, the air is fraught with anticipation.


It takes less than half an hour to fill up a truck. As one leaves, another takes its place. 

Details are entered into a logbook.

It's a well organised operation that is conducted swiftly and stealthily.

"No one really challenges them because they can be dangerous," one local resident warns us.

The men themselves are reluctant to talk. 

When one does, he offers this by way of explanation: "We only supply water to those areas that need it." 

The immediate fallout of this informal, but shadowy, syndicate is that many of Delhi's residents - especially its poorest - are paying a price for a resource that's meant to be freely available.

But there's a long-term impact too. The mafia is drawing out water from India's groundwater, which is slowly being critically depleted.

If unchecked it could lead to a potentially devastating social and economic cost." Top two images via BBC.








Monday, July 27, 2015

France should drop out of climate summit and apologize for gutting the climate and groveling to fossil fuel royals of Saudi Arabia for 3 weeks in the heart of the summer. French climate reserved for oil rich, denied to the people

7/27/15, "King Salman's French holiday: A throne, motorcades and a lift to the beach," BBC

Sprawling French villa reserved for Saudi king (isn't sprawl bad?)

"Saudi Arabia's King Salman has arrived in the south of France for a three-week break - but the monarch is not your average holidaymaker. 

Locals are already upset after a public beach was closed so he can relax in private, while a 300m (985ft) exclusion zone has been implemented around his villa

Many businesses are, however, more than happy to meet his demands. They claim the Saudis bring much-needed revenue to the area. 

So what exactly is on the King's holiday checklist? We took a look. 

As the head of one of the world's richest royal families, it is no surprise that King Salman is a fan of palatial accommodation. 

His villa in Vallauris is nestled among the rocks of the French Rivera - and stretches for several hundred metres along the picturesque coast.

Part of Saudi King's entourage












Built in 1932 by the architect Barry Dierks, Chateau de l'Horizon - as it was once known - has hosted many famous guests, including Winston Churchill, Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe. 

For the next three weeks, it will house King Salman's family
and closest aides.

Preparations have been under way for some time, with locals reporting a flurry of activity in and around the grounds.

New windows have been installed, fresh flowers planted - and there have even been rumours of a throne on the balcony so the King can enjoy unspoiled views.

Several hundred other Saudis are accompanying the King on his visit - more on them later.

King Salman and his entourage arrived at Nice airport on Saturday on board two private planes operated by Saudi Arabian Airlines.

A 10-vehicle motorcade was there to greet the 79-year-old monarch and his guests, before whisking them away to his private residence.

At least 400 luxury saloon cars with tinted windows have been hired, according to local drivers.

They will be used to transport the King's relatives and friends around the region to local tourist spots and beaches. 

"They ask us to take them to restaurants, or they say they want to visit Saint Tropez, Monaco, Nice or villas in the area, because they want to buy property," one driver told AFP.

Summer holidays are the perfect opportunity to spend time with family and friends - but inviting 1,000 of your nearest and dearest may seem excessive. 

King Salman's huge entourage of relatives, staff and military officials have taken up residence along the French coast.

While his inner circle will spend time at his seafront mansion, around 700 others are staying in lavish hotels in Cannes. 

The influx of visitors from the oil-rich nation has led to increased security in the area.

Police vans have been pictured at the entrance to the King's residence, while security guards have been spotted relaxing on sun loungers. 

Some locals are irked by the exorbitant attention being given to the monarch and his guests, while others are happy to accommodate them. 

"The economic impact for us, but also restaurants, chauffeurs and all those who worked at his villa, is real," said Serge Reinhard, the director of the four-star Hotel Montaigne, where half of the rooms have been booked by Saudis.

Workers arrive at Saudi mansion












Perhaps the tallest order on the King's checklist. 

The sandy shores of La Mirandole run alongside his Vallauris mansion - and are usually packed with holidaymakers and sunbathers. 

But the beach has now been sealed off by the authorities to allow King Salman to holiday in private. Members of the public are also banned from coming within 300m of his villa by sea. 

The move has enraged locals. More than 100,000 people have signed a petition against the closure, insisting the beach is a public area that should be "available for the benefit of all".

Police boats are patrolling the coastline on the look-out for intruders. 

The mayor of Vallauris has also written to President Francois Hollande to protest against unauthorised work carried out on the shore. 

Saudis constructed special lift, promise to remove at end of holiday

















A slab of concrete was poured directly onto the sand to install a temporary elevator to allow for easier access for King Salman. 

"We understand the security reasons and the nation's greater interest," Mayor Michelle Salucki wrote. 

"But nobody can exonerate himself from the laws of the land.""


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Public beheading of woman in Saudi Arabia, Jan. 2015

1/15/2015, "Layla bint Abdul Mutaleb Bassim was shown being dragged through a car park repeatedly screaming 'I did not kill' in a video leaked onto the Internet just prior to her execution, reports the Times of London," NY Daily News, "Saudi Arabia publicly beheads woman for allegedly murdering stepdaughter: report"



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Images 1 and 2 getty, second to last ap




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Eight Deutsche Bank staff to be charged in CO2 trading scam and $150 million tax evasion by Frankfurt chief prosecutor, other current or former Deutsche employees still under investigation-Reuters

7/25/15, "German prosecutor to charge eight Deutsche Bank staff in carbon tax case -Spiegel," Reuters, Frankfurt

"A German prosecutor is set to charge eight Deutsche Bank employees following an investigation into tax fraud linked to trading of carbon certificates, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Saturday, without disclosing any sources.

Frankfurt's chief prosecutor will accuse them of securing fees and bonuses from participating in a carbon emission certificate scam that resulted in tax evasion worth 136 million euros ($149 million), the magazine reported.

At least 14 people have been jailed in three countries so far for their involvement in carbon trading VAT fraud. European police agency Europol has estimated such crime has cost taxpayers more than 5 billion euros in lost revenue since 2008.

The Frankfurt prosecutor said in May that they were investigating 26 current or former employees at Deutsche, 17 on suspicion of tax evasion, five for money laundering and four for obstruction of justice.

Der Spiegel referred to around 21 staff in its report, including the eight to be charged. It said the Frankfurt prosecutor had decided not to charge three people following the investigation and was continuing to investigate a dozen or so other employees at the bank. It did not say whether they were current or former employees.

The Frankfurt chief prosecutor declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

A spokesperson for Deutsche Bank, contacted by Reuters, said that the bank's investigation into CO2-related matters was continuing. "We are cooperating with the relevant authorities."

The carbon trading scandal emerged in 2009 when British authorities notified Deutsche Bank about suspicious deals, known as "carousel fraud", designed to generate tax refunds when no tax had been paid.

The cases involved buyers importing contracts for CO2 emissions rights into one EU member state from another, free of VAT. The buyers then did not sell them for use in that market but sold them on to an untraceable series of companies in an agreed chain, which ultimately re-exported them, pocketing a rebate from tax authorities, sources familiar with the matter have said.

The carbon tax fraud was one of a long list of scandals and other issues that eventually led to a purge of Deutsche Bank's leadership in June, including the resignation of co-Chief Executive Anshu Jain.

The bank's largest shareholder, Blackrock, denied that it had pushed for Jain to step down, German daily Tagesspiegel said on Saturday, quoting the head of Blackrock's German operations, Christian Staub.

"Members of our global board have made it clear that we did not exercise influence in this case," Staub was quoted as saying, adding that Blackrock would, in general, make itself heard when things get out of hand. "We do exercise influence, but we work behind the scenes.""

A Deutsche Bank spokesperson declined to comment on the Tagesspiegel report. ($1 = 0.9101 euros)."

"(Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Alexander Hübner; Editing by Susan Fenton)"



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International team of scientists finds drought, famine, and power transfer in Fertile Crescent over past 6000 years correspond to high volumes of wind driven atmospheric dust-published in Quaternary Science Reviews, 9/1/15

[Note: Scientists' original title referenced "climate variability" rather than "climate change:"  “Abrupt climate variability since the last deglaciation based on a high-resolution, multi-proxy peat record from NW Iran: The hand that rocked the Cradle of Civilization?” (paragraph 9)]

7/23/15, "Study Finds Abrupt Climate Change May Have Rocked the Cradle of Civilization," rsmas.miami.edu, press release
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“Evidence for wet early Holocene was previously found in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea region, North and East African lakes and cave deposits from Southwest Asia, and attributed to higher solar insolation during this period,“ said Ali Pourmand, assistant professor of marine geosciences at the UM Rosenstiel School, who supervised the project. “Our study, however, is the first of its kind from the interior of West Asia and unique in its resolution and multi-proxy approach.”

The Fertile Crescent, a region in west Asia that extends from Iran and the Arabian Peninsula to the eastern Mediterranean Sea and northern Egypt is one of the most climatically dynamic regions in the world and is widely considered the birthplace of early human civilizations.  “The high-resolution nature of this record afforded us the rare opportunity to examine the influence of abrupt climate change on early human societies. We see that transitions in several major civilizations across this region, as evidenced by the available historical and archeological records, coincided with episodes of high atmospheric dust; higher fluxes of dust are attributed to drier conditions across the region over the last 5,000 years,” said Arash Sharifi, Ph.D. candidate at the department of marine geosciences and the lead author of the study.



(Image caption): Climate variability during the past 5000 years as told by the concentration of titanium (Ti) in sediment core from Neor Lake, NW Iran. The vertical orange bands denote periods of dry and dusty condition, which correlate with historical records of drought and famine in Iranian Plateau, Mesopotamia and Eastern Mediterranean (brown and black horizontal bars respectively). Transition between ruling dynasties (gray arrows) in Iran and North Mesopotamia coincides with the episodes of dry and dusty condition in the region (peaks in Ti intensities). Credit: Arash Sharifi

The researchers investigated climate variability and changes in paleoenvironmental conditions during the last 13,000 years based on a high-resolution (sub-decadal to centennial) peat record from Neor Lake in Northwest Iran. Abrupt climate changes occur in the span of years to decades.

This study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation to A. Pourmand (EAR-1003639) and Elizabeth Canuel (EAR-1003529), is titled “Abrupt climate variability since the last deglaciation based on a high-resolution, multi-proxy peat record from NW Iran: The hand that rocked the Cradle of Civilization?” The paper, which will be published in the September 1 issue of the journal of Quaternary Science Review, is currently available online.

The study’s authors include: Arash Sharifi, Ali Pourmand, Larry C. Peterson, Peter K. Swart of the UM-RSMAS; Elizabeth A. Canuel, Erin Ferer-Tyler of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary; Bernhard Aichner, Sarah J. Feakins of the University of Southern California; Touraj Daryaee of the University of California, Irvine; Morteza Djamali of the institut méditerranéen de biodiversité et d'ecologie, France; Abdolmajid Naderi Beni, and Hamid A.K. Lahijani of the Iranian National Institute of Oceanography and Atmospheric Science, Iran." 

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Sept. 2015 Quaternary Science Reviews:
  • Sept. 2015, "Abrupt climate variability since the last deglaciation based on a high-resolution, multi-proxy peat record from NW Iran: The hand that rocked the Cradle of Civilization?" Quaternary Science Reviews, Arash Sharifia, b, , , Ali Pourmanda, b, Elizabeth A. Canuelc, Erin Ferer-Tylerc, Larry C. Petersonb, Bernhard Aichnerd, Sarah J. Feakinsd, Touraj Daryaeee, Morteza Djamalif, Abdolmajid Naderi Benig, Hamid A.K. Lahijanig, Peter K. Swartb
  •  "Highlights
    •A high-resolution, multi-proxy record of climate variability from NW Iran is presented.
    High dust fluxes observed during the last deglacial and mid-late Holocene.
    Low dust fluxes during early Holocene coincide with higher water availability
    *Atmospheric teleconnection between North Atlantic climate and interior of West Asia.
    •High aeolian [wind] inputs correspond with drought and famine over the last 5000 years.
    Abstract

    We present a high-resolution (sub-decadal to centennial), multi-proxy reconstruction of aeolian [wind] input and changes in palaeohydrological conditions based on a 13000 Yr record from Neor Lake's peripheral peat in NW Iran. Variations in relative abundances of refractory (Al, Zr, Ti, and Si), redox sensitive (Fe) and mobile (K and Rb) elements, total organic carbon (TOC), δ13CTOC, compound-specific leaf wax hydrogen isotopes (δD), carbon accumulation rates and dust fluxes presented here fill a large gap in the existing terrestrial paleoclimate records from the interior of West Asia. Our results suggest that a transition occurred from dry and dusty conditions during the Younger Dryas (YD) to a relatively wetter period with higher carbon accumulation rates and low aeolian [wind] input during the early Holocene (9000–6000 Yr BP). This period was followed by relatively drier and dustier conditions during middle to late Holocene, which is consistent with orbital changes in insolation that affected much of the northern hemisphere. Numerous episodes of high aeolian [wind] input spanning a few decades to millennia are prevalent during the middle to late Holocene. Wavelet analysis of variations in Ti abundances as a proxy for aeolian input revealed notable periodicities at 230, 320, and 470 years with significant periodicities centered around 820, 1550, and 3110 years over the last 13000 years. Comparison with palaeoclimate archives from West Asia, the North Atlantic and African lakes point to a teleconnection between North Atlantic climate and the interior of West Asia during the last glacial termination and the Holocene epoch. 
    ............
    We further assess the potential role of abrupt climate change on early human societies by comparing our record of palaeoclimate variability with historical, geological and archaeological archives from this region. The terrestrial record from this study confirms previous evidence from marine sediments of the Arabian Sea that suggested climate change influenced the termination of the Akkadian empire. In addition, nearly all observed episodes of enhanced dust deposition during the middle to late Holocene coincided with times of drought, famine, and power transitions across the Iranian Plateau, Mesopotamia and the eastern Mediterranean region. These findings indicate that while socio-economic factors are traditionally considered to shape ancient human societies in this region, the influence of abrupt climate change should not be underestimated."
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    7/23/15, Sciencedaily.com report: [Note scientists' original title referenced "climate variability" rather than "climate change:"  "“Abrupt climate variability since the last deglaciation based on a high-resolution, multi-proxy peat record from NW Iran: The hand that rocked the Cradle of Civilization?” (Paragraph 9)] 

    7/23/15, "Abrupt climate change may have rocked the cradle of civilization," sciencedaily.com

    "Effects of climate on human societies"
    "Summary: New research reveals that some of the earliest civilizations in the Middle East and the Fertile Crescent
    may have been affected by abrupt climate change. These findings show that while socio-economic factors were traditionally considered to shape ancient human societies in this region, the influence of abrupt climate change should not be underestimated. 
    A team of international scientists led by researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science found that during the first half of the last interglacial period known as the Holocene epoch, which began about 12,000 years ago and continues today, the Middle East most likely experienced wetter conditions in comparison with the last 6,000 years, when the conditions were drier and dustier.

    "Evidence for wet early Holocene was previously found in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea region, North and East African lakes and cave deposits from Southwest Asia, and attributed to higher solar insolation [sunlight] during this period," said Ali Pourmand, assistant professor of marine geosciences at the UM Rosenstiel School, who supervised the project. "Our study, however, is the first of its kind from the interior of West Asia and unique in its resolution and multi-proxy approach."

    The Fertile Crescent, a region in west Asia that extends from Iran and the Arabian Peninsula to the eastern Mediterranean Sea and northern Egypt is one of the most climatically dynamic regions in the world and is widely considered the birthplace of early human civilizations.

    "The high-resolution nature of this record afforded us the rare opportunity to examine the influence of abrupt climate change on early human societies. We see that transitions in several major civilizations across this region, as evidenced by the available historical and archeological records, coincided with episodes of high atmospheric dust; higher fluxes of dust are attributed to drier conditions across the region over the last 5,000 years," said Arash Sharifi, Ph.D. candidate
    at the department of marine geosciences and the lead author of the study.

    The researchers investigated climate variability and changes in paleoenvironmental conditions during the last 13,000 years based on a high-resolution (sub-decadal to centennial) peat record from Neor Lake in Northwest Iran. Abrupt climate changes occur in the span of years to decades."



    Story Source:
    The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
    ...................

    Journal Reference:

    Arash Sharifi, Ali Pourmand, Elizabeth A. Canuel, Erin Ferer-Tyler, Larry C. Peterson, Bernhard Aichner, Sarah J. Feakins, Touraj Daryaee, Morteza Djamali, Abdolmajid Naderi Beni, Hamid A.K. Lahijani, Peter K. Swart. Abrupt climate variability since the last deglaciation based on a high-resolution, multi-proxy peat record from NW Iran: The hand that rocked the Cradle of Civilization? Quaternary Science Reviews, 2015; 123: 215 DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.07.006

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    Sunday, July 26, 2015

    After getting caught cheating on Common Core exams, West Harlem school Principal commits suicide, jumps onto subway tracks, NY Dept. of Ed. says-NY Post

    7/26/15, "Principal commits suicide amid Common Core test scandal," NY Post, by Susan Edelman, Amber Jamieson, Jamie Schram

    "The principal of an innovative West Harlem public school killed herself the day after her students took the state Common Core exams--which were later tossed out because she cheated, The Post has learned.

    Jeanene Worrell-Breeden, 49, of Teachers College Community School, jumped in front of a B train in the 135th Street station on St. Nicholas Avenue on April 17, police said.

    She was pulled out from under the train and taken to Harlem Hospital, where she died eight days later. The city Medical Examiner’s Office ruled it a suicide.

    The leap came at 9:20 a.m., less than 24 hours after her 47 third-graders wrapped up three days sweating over the high-stakes English exam — the first ever given at the fledgling school.

    It was also the same day a whistleblower reported the cheating to DOE officials.

    Parents were shocked and saddened to learn Worrell-Breeden died but were given no details at the time. It was rumored she was killed in a car crash.

    Parents were in for another shock in June. Superintendent Gale Reeves told them in a meeting that all the third-grade English exams had been “red-flagged” and “invalidated.”...

    In a June 22 letter to families, Reeves wrote, “The integrity of the assessment was compromised due to actions outside your child’s control.”

    Parents grew frustrated. No one from the city Department of Education or the state Education Department, which administers the exams, answered questions. They asked for help from politicians, including Assemblyman Keith Wright, whose staff also hit a wall.

    On Friday, the DOE blamed the dead principal.

    Principal Worrell-Breeden was the subject of allegations of testing improprieties, spokeswoman Devora Kaye said. “An investigation substantiated these allegations, and we closed the investigation following her tragic passing.”

    Kaye would not say how Worrell-Breeden allegedly tampered with the tests.

    Asked whether Worrell-Breeden was told of the April 17 allegations against her, DOE officials did not answer.

    The DOE invalidated all 47 English exams. Third-graders took the state math exams April 22 to 24.

    Those scores will be released this summer, but Tinsley said the superintendent assured parents that all the kids would be promoted to the fourth grade.

    The tough Common Core exams have raised anxiety. In 2014, only 34.5 percent of city students passed the math tests, and 29.4 percent passed English tests.

    “A lot of people are getting sick and leaving the system because of the pressure the high-stakes tests are putting on them,” a veteran educator said.

    But Worrell-Breeden seemed “relaxed,” Tinsley said.


    She was reassuring us parents,” Tinsley said. “Her whole attitude was that they’re going to breeze through this test, and that she had prepared them to ace any test.”

    Each morning of the three-part exam--given April 14 to 16--Worrell-Breeden served the kids breakfast and held a pep rally.

    “She had them run around the gym cheering to get rid of their nervousness,” Tinsley said.

    A family friend described Worrell-Breeden as a driven leader struggling with personal setbacks.

    “Her grandmother died last year. Her husband moved out last year. He had a child with another woman. She was under a lot of pressure at home,” the friend said.

    “She was the first principal at that school so she was trying to make...a good impression. “Maybe all that pressure, added to what was going on at home, got to her.”

    Worrell-Breeden, who made $135,000 a year, was the founding principal of the school, which the DOE opened in 2011 in partnership with Columbia University’s Teachers College. It promised access to Columbia facilities, student interns and researchers. While planning to grow, it served only pre-K to grade 3 last school year.

    Worrell-Breeden got the job despite a scandal at her former school, PS 18 in The Bronx. In 2009, the special commissioner of investigation for city schools found she had clocked in for overtime pay while working out with a personal trainer three times a week in the school gym.

    Her time card “disappeared” after investigators visited the school. 


    The probe found she altered her time card and coerced subordinates to say she had offered them hundreds of OT hours first--as required--before taking them herself.

    In a six-month period she collected more than $9,500 in OT pay, records say.

    An arbitrator dismissed charges of a coverup. She was docked two weeks’ pay."
















    Image caption: "Rescue workers examine the tracks where Principal Jeanene Worrell-Breeden met her tragic end. Photo: Robert Miller," NY Post


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