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Eastern cottontail rabbit on a non-fertilized lawn in Somerville, MA. Photo: R Moir

There is much more to climate change than carbon dioxide. Of all the molecules rising to cause stronger storms, longer droughts, more fires, pestilence, local extinctions, and sea level rising, global carbon is the easiest to measure as an indicator of overall planet health. The other greenhouse gasses, methane, nitrous oxides, and especially water vapor are more difficult to measure due to their dynamic, constantly shifting nature.

Global carbon dioxide levels are observed and recorded far from industries 11,000 feet above sea level at the Mauna Loa Observatory. Carbon dioxide rose steadily from 315 parts per million (ppm) in 1958…


Well said John. Perhaps we call ships she because the ocean is so masculine and it is all about relationships.


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Greenland Iceberg Photo: Rob Moir

Methane hydrate, the so-called monster, lies beneath the sea floor. In sediments on the ocean bottom, microorganisms remove oxygen making conditions lower down anoxic. Here, methanogens produce methane that is trapped as the notorious gas hydrates.

In practice, rather than theory, there is a catastrophic difference between the increasing summer melt of Arctic Ocean sea ice and the thaw of methane hydrate down below.


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Oil pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinaw. Photo courtesy of https://www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/

In June, 2020, Mackinaw City, Michigan, a judge ordered the Canadian energy firm to shut down operation of its pipeline that crosses the 3.5 mile Straits of Mackinac. The pipeline, built in 1953, courses 23 million gallons a day of synthetic crude, natural gas liquids, sweet crude, and light sour crude oil. Located at the top of the Michigan mitten, the pipe spans three and one-half miles beneath the straits that connect Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

A screw anchor support was found to have shifted, not the pipeline. Enbridge thought no big deal to their Line 5, but the…


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Is this a mono-culture or can you see more than one type of plant on the green? Photo by Evan Dvorkin on Unsplash

I am constantly startled and saddened by how fractious people have become in the last decade or two. It used to be if you mentioned religion or politics people might respond in your face with an opposing view. Now, if you say what you ate, what vehicle you drive, or where you live, someone will vigorously challenge you, like it’s a dastardly deed you’ve done. They act superior in knowledge and shame. Too often this “knowledge” is based more on hearsay, a sound bite, elevator pitch, or perhaps a Google search. Comments are no longer based on observation, experience, or…


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If we do not take better care and pollute less there will be no whales in the sea. Photo R. Moir

Recently, nearly five hundred long-finned pilot whales have stranded themselves on sand spits in the waters off of Macquarie Heads on Tasmania’s west coast. A place much like Wellfleet in Massachusetts Bay, this is a tidal area with shallow shoals of sand and mudflats. Marquarie Heads is a known hotspot for pilot whale stranding. More than 80% of Australian whale strandings are reported to happen in Tasmania with 200 pilot whales in 2009 and 294 pilot whales in 1935.

More than sixty people turned out to rescue the whales. Working twelve-hour days beneath gray rainy skies, often standing waste deep…


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Lawn in Somerville MA with eastern cottontail rabbit. Photo R. Moir

In the efforts to slow the ravages wrought by Climate Change, the hare may have beaten the hybrid car while munching on grass. The real winners are non-fertilized green lawns and permaculture. The hare was just stimulating the grass to capture more carbon.

First, it is paramount that we reduce the burning of fossil fuels and reduce our carbon footprints. We should also increase the amount of carbon taken out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Reducing emissions and increasing carbon capture are two steps we need to take to achieve net zero carbon emissions. …


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Right whales off Provincetown, Cape Cod. Photo: R. Moir

Alone on deck, they thought I was having an epileptic attack as I gesticulated and babbled at the sea’s surface with an enormous slick circular patch where the right whale’s back like a sandbar had once been. The whale had grabbed my attention with a big exhalation right beside the ship, blown my mind with the humongous immensity of a life form, and then moved on never to be seen again.

Finally, 46 summers later, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has designated the North Atlantic Right Whale as “critically endangered” on its Red List of Threatened…


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Photo R. Moir

My family and friends used to paddle down the Ipswich River. We’d load up canoes, pull in hands and feet, put paddles out, to follow watery bends and turns down the river. In May, high water carried us over river banks, through trees and out onto flooded fields by the Topsfield fairgrounds. We floated outside the river in hopes of seeing glossy ibis wading the shallow greens and peppering the sky.

Come summer, river water stayed within its bounds. Exposed dirt banks rose up with protruding woody roots that presented roosts for belted kingfishers. The river became a trickle where…


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Sea-worthy tools of an oceanographer. Photo: R Moir

An ice cube in a pint glass demonstrates how the shrinking polar ice cap gives more flow to a stronger Gulf Stream, while an ice cube in the adjacent pint glass demonstrates why Gulf of Maine seawater is not warming faster than any other water body.

August 2018, on the hot bricks of Boston’s City Plaza at the 11th Annual Boston Greenfest where air temperatures climbed into the nineties, the intent was to demonstrate how ocean currents circulate around the Atlantic Ocean with a pint glass, water, salt, a single ice cube to play the part of an iceberg, and…

Rob Moir

Rob Moir, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Ocean River Institute. He writes Clam Chowdah dot org blog and hosts Moir’s Environmental Dialogues iTalk radio.

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