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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Western US Swelters Under Blistering, Record-Breaking Heat


Published on Saturday, June 29, 2013 by Common Dreams

National Weather Service's Stuart Seto: the current heatwave is "a huge one"

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Sweltering heat is baking areas of the western and southwestern United States this weekend.
The planet's record-high temperature—134 degrees Fahrenheit recorded in Death Valley in California a century ago—is close to being met this weekend as is forecast to reach 129 degrees.
The National Weather Service reports on Saturday:
Scorching heat will continue underneath an expansive upper ridge parked over the Western U.S. this weekend. Temperatures will yet again approach or exceed records on Saturday and Sunday across much of the Southwest and Great Basin. Staring late this weekend and into early next week...the upper ridge will begin building northward and triple digit temperatures will spread north all the way to the Canadian border. Heat advisories have already been posted for portions of Washington...Idaho...and western Montana.
National Weather Service specialist Stuart Seto said warned that the current heatwave was "a huge one."
 "We haven't seen one like this for several years, probably the mid- to late 2000s," said Seto.
"It's going to be baking hot across much of the entire West," adds National Weather Service meteorologist Mark O'Malley.
USA Today reports that
In some cities, record highs for any date throughout the year could be equaled or surpassed, AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. Cities that could set all-time high temperature marks include Flagstaff, Ariz., Las Vegas and Reno, he added.
Las Vegas, currently under an excessive heat warning, could see temperatures reach 118 degrees this weekend, and on Friday at an outdoor concert in the city, 115 degree temperatures  caused 170 people to be treated for heat-related injuries, with 34 more sent to local hospitals, Reuters reports.

Pittsburgh resident Dan Kail, who was vacationing in Las Vegas, headed out to Death Valley to experience the possible record heat first hand, and said, "The wind out here is like being in front of a blast furnace."
Phoenix's ABC15 reports on areas in Arizona that already broke heat records on Friday:
Flagstaff: 96 (Previously 94)
Winslow: 107 (Previously 104)
Prescott: 104 (Previously 100)
Page: 109 (Previously 103)
Cottonwood: 114 (Previously 114)
Grand Canyon: 89 (Previously 88)
Yuma: 118 (Previously 116)
And as runaway climate change continues to heat up the planet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned earlier this month, be prepared for more heatwaves:
Think last summer was bad? You better get used to it, federal health officials warned Thursday. Climate change means hotter summers and more intense storms that could knock power out for days -- and kill people.
New data on heat-related deaths suggest that public health officials have been underestimating them, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. It’s an especially important message as summers get longer and hotter due to climate change, and as storms that can cause widespread blackouts become more common and more intense.
NBC has video:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The 10 Dumbest Things Ever Said About Global Warming

Rolling Stone


The 10 Dumbest Things Ever Said About Global Warming

The most egregious myths, misconceptions and flat-out lies about the future of the planet

Climate change denial makes this polar bear sad.
Pete Foley/Getty Images/Flickr RF
June 19, 2013 11:00 AM ET

A list of the dumbest things ever said about global warming is, sadly, almost impossible to curate in any comprehensive fashion. Politicians, talk show hosts, economists, pundits – people are saying dumb things about climate change all the time. But after much exhaustive research, we narrowed it down to 10 prize-winningly idiotic statements on this subject.

1. Carbon dioxide "literally cannot cause global warming."

People have tried to deny climate science in a lot of ways, but it's hard to beat a complete rejection of well-established atmospheric physics. Joe Bastardi, a meteorologist appearing on Fox News, argued that CO2 "literally" cannot cause warming because it doesn't "mix well in the atmosphere" (it does). He's also claimed that warming would violate the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. (In fact, global warming has nothing to do with newly created energy, but with the atmosphere trapping energy that's already around.)

2. "Snow skiing will be hurt – but water skiing will benefit."

In 1990, as the world was beginning to grapple with the devastating predictions of climate models, a Yale economist set out to determine how much was a reasonable amount to spend on combating the problem. Not that much, he concluded, since "Humans thrive in a wide variety of climate zones. Cities are increasingly climate-proofed by technological changes like air-conditioning and shopping malls." Further, he argued, the hardest-hit sectors – like, say, agriculture – are relatively small parts of the economy anyway. And economic growth in other sectors could compensate: "Snow skiing will be hurt – but water skiing will benefit." How reassuring!

The Fossil Fuel Resistance: Meet the New Green Heroes

RS contributor Bill McKibben lambasted this analysis in his 2007 book, Deep Economy. "It's nice to have microelectronics; it's necessary to have lunch," wrote McKibben. "If global warming 'only' damages agriculture, the rest may not matter much."

3. "We must demand that more coal be burned to save the Earth from global cooling."

The "global cooling" myth is another favorite of climate deniers, despite broad scientific consensus that the planet is in fact warming. But it's got to be an especially appealing fiction when you're the CEO of a coal company – this statement is from a tweet by Don Blankenship, then the head of Massey Energy.

4. Climate change is impossible because "God's still up there." 

In 2012, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) contended that acceptance of climate science was at odds with Christianity – never mind that many Christian leaders and institutions take climate change very seriously. "My point is, God's still up there," he told Voice of Christian Youth America. "The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."

A close runner-up in this category: In 2009, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Illinois) cited God's post-flood promise to Noah as evidence we shouldn't be worried. "The Earth will end only when God declares it's time to be over," he declared. "Man will not destroy this Earth." Well, that must be nice to know.

5. God buried fossil fuels "because he loves to see us find them."

Bryan Fischer, a director at the American Family Association, compared efforts to burn less fossil fuels to telling a friend that you don't like their birthday present. "That's kind of how we're treating God when he's given us these gifts of abundant and inexpensive and effective fuel sources," he observed. "God has buried those treasures there because he loves to see us find them." And everyone knows it's bad manners to turn down a divine treasure hunt.

6. "The President was wearing a trench coat it was so cold, but he's talking about global warming."

This gem, from U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) in reference to President Obama's 2013 inauguration speech, is part of a long, confused tradition: The conviction that anecdotally observed cold weather of any kind debunks the science of climate change. See also the igloo that James Inhofe's family built on the National Mall (they called it "Al Gore's new home") or the ad from the Virginia Republican Party, aired before the same snowstorm, advising voters to call legislators who supported climate actions and "tell them how much global warming you get this weekend. Maybe they'll come help you shovel." With probably thousands of articles out there now explaining the simple fact that weather is not the same thing as climate, this joke gets dumber every time it's made.

7. "I thought it must be true until I found out what it cost."

Yes, Sen. Inhofe gets two entries. Speaking to Rachel Maddow in 2012, he admitted that his rejection of climate science began with realizing how expensive mitigation would be. Not only is it flatly nonsensical to deny that a problem exists because you don't like its cure, delaying climate action is actually the more expensive course. The International Energy Agency has estimated that for every year the world delays taking significant action to curb climate change, we'll end up paying an additional $500 billion later on.

8. Safeguarding the climate is "a worldview that elevates the Earth above man."

Rick Santorum was a front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination when he called climate science a "phony theology" – "a worldview that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can't take those resources because we're going to harm the Earth." (Santorum has also said, "We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the Earth's benefit.") This people-vs.-planet idea is another common refrain from climate skeptics. They rarely seem to have considered the fairly obvious point that functioning human society depends on a healthy planet.

9. "100 years is a long time . . . There is an extremely high chance that the very nature of human society itself will have changed by that time in ways that render this entire issue moot."

This novel bit of reasoning is from an essay called "In Praise of Dirty Energy: There Are Worse Things Than Pollution and We Have Them," by economist and blogger Karl W. Smith, now a writer for Forbes. Smith accepts the science of climate change – but argues that we should burn more fossil fuels anyway, in order to spur economic growth. As the climate changes, he believes that people will simply build new cities or move north to Siberia, and build a society so technologically advanced it's somehow progressed beyond the need for a stable climate. Piece of cake!

10. "I have a theory about global warming and why people think it's real. Go back 30, 40 years when there was much less air conditioning in the country. When you didn't have air conditioning and you left the house, it may in fact have gotten a little cooler out there, because sometimes houses become hot boxes. Especially if you're on the second or third floor of a house in the summer time and all you've got is open windows and maybe a window fan. Or you have some servant standing there fanning you with a piece of paper. When you walked outside, no big deal, it's still hot as hell. Now, 30, 40 years later, all this air conditioning, and it's a huge difference when you go outside. When you go outside now, my golly, is it hot. Oh. Global warming. It's all about the baseline you're using for comparison."

Oh, OK: All those scientists who have confirmed a pattern of long-term climate change were just getting confused by their air conditioning. Right. Thanks, Rush Limbaugh, for the low-hanging fruit.

Friday, June 21, 2013

While temperatures rise, denialists reach lower

While temperatures rise, denialists reach lower

By Phil Plait | January 30, 2012 12:20 pm 
Over the weekend, two amazingly bad articles were published about climate change. Both were loaded with mistakes, misinterpretations, and outright misinformation, and are simply so factually wrong that they almost read like parodies.

Just so we’re clear here.

The first was in the Wall Street Journal. The article, called No Need to Panic About Global Warming, is a textbook example of misleading prose. It’s laden to bursting with factual errors, but the one that stood out to me most was this whopper: "Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now."

What the what?

That statement, to put it bluntly, is dead wrong. It relies on blatantly misinterpreting long term trends, instead wearing blinders and only looking at year-to-year variations in temperature. The Skeptical Science website destroyed this argument in November 2011, in fact. The OpEd also ignores the fact that nine of the ten hottest years on record all occurred since the year 2000.

The WSJ OpEd makes a lot of hay from having 16 scientists sign it, but of those only 4 are actually climate scientists. And that bragging right is crushed to dust when you find out that the WSJ turned down an article about the reality of global warming that was signed by 255 actual climate scientists. In fact, as Media Matters reports, more of the signers of the WSJ OpEd have ties to oil interests than actually publish peer-reviewed climate research.
Shame on the WSJ for publishing that nonsense.

When I read it, I thought that OpEd was really scraping the bottom of the barrel. But then the Daily Mail chimed in and I discovered that barrel gets a lot deeper. They printed an article by David Rose called Forget global warming — it’s Cycle 25 we need to worry about (and if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again).

By "Cycle 25" he’s referring to the solar activity cycle — which I’ll get to in a moment. But first, the most egregiously awful thing about the Mail article is the angle it takes on new results released by The Met Office, the National Weather Service for the UK. The subheadline for the Mail article is "Met Office releases new figures which show no warming in 15 years", which is a bit odd given that the very first two paragraphs of the Met’s press release say:

2012 is expected to be around 0.48 °C warmer than the long-term (1961-1990) global average of 14.0 °C, with a predicted likely range of between 0.34 °C and 0.62 °C, according to the Met Office annual global temperature forecast.
The middle of this range would place 2012 within the top 10 warmest years in a series which goes back to 1850.
[Emphasis mine, but done for obvious reasons.]

If you can square that with "new figures… show no warming" then congrats! You can write for the Mail.

The article is so fallacious that the Met offices decided to publish another release stating clearly that the Mail article "includes numerous errors", is "misleading", and that the author chose "… to not fully include the answers we gave him".

And we’re not done. A big part of Rose’s Mail article talks about the Sun’s influence on climate. However, the solar activity cycle is something which has been shown over and again to have very little to do with climate, and is certainly not anywhere near the main driver of climate change.

The Mail article bases its argument on some research that may indicate the Sun will enter a quiet period after this next peak, and that will cool the Earth. First, the research is by no means anywhere near verified, and in fact at least one well-respected solar physicist doesn’t agree with the findings (I think he’s right; the work is interesting but very, very preliminary). Second, even if it’s true, there’s no reason to think it will cause an ice age as the Mail article attests; that takes many factors occurring all at once. Also, the Little Ice Age — a cold period during the 17th and 18th centuries — was not a global effect; it only affected Europe. It also coincided with several large volcanic events that helped drive it. I explain all that in the link above.

So where does Rose get this idea that the Sun will cool us down? From another Met Office release. And guess what? Again, that release states in the first paragraph the exact opposite of what Rose claims:
New research has found that solar output is likely to reduce over the next 90 years but that will not substantially delay expected increases in global temperatures caused by greenhouse gases.
Amazing, isn’t it?

Happily, the cavalry has ridden in; the reality-based community has come out swinging against these two articles:

- Andrew Revkin at The New York Times
- The Intersection
- Get Energy Smart Now
- DeSmogBlog
- Planet3.0
- Anti climate change extremism in Utah
- Greg Laden
- Climate scientist Michael Mann has been tweeting furiously about it, too.
[Update: more for you:
- The Environmental Defense Fund
- Scholars and Rogues (specifically taking on Burt Rutan, one of the 16 signers of the WSJ OpEd; Rutan replies in the comments)]

In the head-asplodey irony department, how do you think the editors at the WSJ feel that their OpEd was reprinted in The Tehran Times?

It’s rare to be 100% certain of something in science, but I have no doubt at all that the comments to this post will be filled with noise from denialists. It happens every single time I post about this, and they almost always use long-debunked arguments. But as these attacks on reality get more brazen, we have to be ever more alert.

Related posts:
- 2011: The 9th hottest year on record
- New independent climate study confirms global warming is real
- Climategate 2: More ado about nothing. Again.
- Arctic ice at second-lowest extent since 1979
- As arctic ice shrinks, so does a denier claim


Study reveals scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change

IOP Institute of Physics

Study reveals scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change

16 May 2013 | Source: Environmental Research Letters
A comprehensive analysis of peer-reviewed articles on the topic of global warming and climate change has revealed an overwhelming consensus among scientists that recent warming is human-caused.

Polluting industrial chimney

The study is the most comprehensive yet and identified 4000 summaries, otherwise known as abstracts, from papers published in the past 21 years that stated a position on the cause of recent global warming – 97 per cent of these endorsed the consensus that we are seeing man-made, or anthropogenic, global warming (AGW)

Led by John Cook at the University of Queensland, the study has been published today, Thursday 16 May, in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters.

The study went one step further, asking the authors of these papers to rate their entire paper using the same criteria. Over 2000 papers were rated and among those that discussed the cause of recent global warming, 97 per cent endorsed the consensus that it is caused by humans.

The findings are in stark contrast to the public’s position on global warming; a 2012 poll* revealed that more than half of Americans either disagree, or are unaware, that scientists overwhelmingly agree that the Earth is warming because of human activity.

John Cook said: “Our findings prove that there is a strong scientific agreement about the cause of climate change, despite public perceptions to the contrary.
“There is a gaping chasm between the actual consensus and the public perception. It’s staggering given the evidence for consensus that less than half of the general public think scientists agree that humans are causing global warming.

“This is significant because when people understand that scientists agree on global warming, they’re more likely to support policies that take action on it.”
In March 2012, the researchers used the ISI Web of Science database to search for peer-reviewed academic articles published between 1991 and 2011 using two topic searches: “global warming” and “global climate change”.

After limiting the selection to peer-reviewed climate science, the study considered 11 994 papers written by 29 083 authors in 1980 different scientific journals.

The abstracts from these papers were randomly distributed between a team of 24 volunteers recruited through the “myth-busting” website
skepticalscience.com, who used set criteria to determine the level to which the abstracts endorsed that humans are the primary cause of global warming. Each abstract was analyzed by two independent, anonymous raters.

From the 11 994 papers, 32.6 per cent endorsed AGW, 66.4 per cent stated no position on AGW, 0.7 per cent rejected AGW and in 0.3 per cent of papers, the authors said the cause of global warming was uncertain.

Co-author of the study Mark Richardson, from the University of Reading, said: "We want our scientists to answer questions for us, and there are lots of exciting questions in climate science. One of them is: are we causing global warming? We found over 4000 studies written by 10 000 scientists that stated a position on this, and 97 per cent said that recent warming is mostly man made.”

Visitors to the skepticalscience.com website also raised the funds required to allow the study to be accessible to the public.

Daniel Kammen, editor-in-chief of the journal Environmental Research Letters, said: “"This paper demonstrates the power of the Environmental Research Letters open access model of operation in that authors working to advance our knowledge of climate science and to engage in a public discourse can guarantee all interested parties have the opportunity to review the same data and findings."

* http://www.pewresearch.org/2013/04/02/climate-change-key-data-points-from-pew-research/

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The 30,000 Global Warming Petition Is Easily-Debunked Propaganda


Kevin Grandia

Kevin Grandia

Posted: July 22, 2009 04:47 PM

The 30,000 Global Warming Petition Is Easily-Debunked Propaganda

To say that the oft-touted "30,000 Global Warming Petition" project stinks would be the understatement of the year.

I thought it would be timely to once again break down this flawed piece of global warming denier propaganda after it was mentioned last night in Daily Show host Jon Stewart's interview with US Energy Secretary of Energy, Dr. Stephen Chu.

.1% of Signers Have a Background in Climatology

The Petition Project website offers a breakdown of the areas of expertise of those who have signed the petition.

In the realm of climate science it breaks it breaks down as such:
Atmospheric Science (113)

Climatology (39)

Meteorology (341)

Astronomy (59)

Astrophysics (26)

So only .1% of the individuals on the list of 30,000 signatures have a scientific background in Climatology. To be fair, we can add in those who claim to have a background in Atmospheric Science, which brings the total percentage of signatories with a background in climate change science to a whopping .5%.
The page does not break out the names of those who do claim to be experts in Climatology and Atmospheric Science, which makes even that .5% questionable [see my section on "unverifiable mess" below].

This makes an already questionable list seem completely insignificant given the nature of scientific endeavor.

When I think I'm having chest pains I don't go to the dermatologist, I go to a cardiologist because it would be absurd to go to skin doctor for a heart problem. It would be equally absurd to look to a scientist with a background in medicine (of which there are 3,046 on the petition) for an expert opinion on the science of climate change. With science broken down into very narrow specialties a scientific expert in one specialty does not make that person an automatic authority in all things science.

In this way the logic of the 30,000 petition is completely flawed, which isn't surprising given its questionable beginnings.


The Petition's Sordid Beginnings

The petition first emerged in April 1998 and was organized by Art Robinson of the self-proclaimed "Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine" (OISM) [their headquarters are the Photo Inset].

Along with the Exxon-backed George C. Marshall Institute, Robinson's group co-published the infamous "Oregon Petition" claiming to have collected 17,000 signatories to a document arguing against the realities of global warming.
The petition and the documents included were all made to look like official papers from the prestigious National Academy of Science. They weren't, and this attempt to mislead has been well-documented.

Along with the petition there was a cover letter from Dr. Fred Seitz (who has since died), a notorious climate change denier (and big tobacco scientist) who over 30 years ago was the president of the National Academy of Science.
Also attached to the petition was an apparent "research paper" titled Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. The paper was made to mimic what a research paper would look like in the National Academy's prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy journal. The authors of the paper were Robinson, Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon (both oil-backed scientists) and Robinson's son Zachary. With the signature of a former NAS president and a research paper that appeared to be published in one of the most prestigious science journals in the world, many scientists were duped into signing a petition based on a false impression.

The petition was so misleading that the National Academy issued a news release stating: "The petition project was a deliberate attempt to mislead scientists and to rally them in an attempt to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol. The petition was not based on a review of the science of global climate change, nor were its signers experts in the field of climate science."

An Unverifiable Mess

Time and time again, I have had emails from researchers who have taken random samples of names from the list and Google searched them for more information. I urge others to do the same. What you'll quickly find is either no information, very little information or information substantiating the fact that the vast majority of signers are completely unqualified in the area of climate change science.

For example,

"Munawwar M. Akhtar" - no info other than the fact that he is a signatory on the petition.

"Fred A. Allehoff" - no info other than the fact that he is a signatory on the petition.

"Ernest J. Andberg" - no info other than the fact that he is a signatory on the petition.

"Joseph J. Arx" - no info other than the fact that he is a signatory on the petition.

"Adolph L. Amundson" - a paper by Amundson on the "London Tunnel Water Treatment System Acid Mine Drainage." [PDF]

"Henry W. Apfelbach" - an Orthopedic Surgeon

"Joe R. Arechavaleta" - runs an Architect and Engineering company.

And this is only names I picked in the "A's." I could go on, but you get my point. The list is very difficult to verify as a third-party, but this hasn't stopped the Petition from bouncing around the internet and showing up in mainstream media.

Given all this it seems to me that anyone touting this as proof that "global warming is a hoax" completely misunderstands the process of scientific endeavor or has completely exhausted any real argument that rightfully brings into to doubt the reality of climate change.

Or, then again, they could just be in it for the money.

Follow Kevin Grandia on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kgrandia

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Arctic Melt Causing Disease to Spread


Scientist: "We should recognize disease as a harbinger of a warming world.”

by Kieran Cooke

A cow grazing on the lush pasturelands of Cornwall in southwest England and a seal swimming in the ice cold waters of the Arctic might not appear to have much in common. The link between the two is tuberculosis, with a strain of the disease threatening cattle populations in Britain and elsewhere now showing up among seals in the high Arctic.

(Photo: baine/ Flickr) 

Dr Claire Heffernan, a trained vet and a specialist in global health and disease interaction between animals and humans, says that as the climate warms in Arctic regions, more and more diseases from Europe and elsewhere are spreading there, threatening both animal and human populations.

“In the past diseases might not have survived in the cold temperatures and the ice of the Arctic but as the region warms a new dynamic is introduced” Heffernan told Climate News Network.

“We need to fundamentally alter the way we look at disease in the context of climate change. We should recognize disease as a harbinger of a warming world.”

Dr Heffernan, a senior fellow at the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment in Oxford and director of the livestock development group at the University of Reading says a wide variety of diseases have recently become evident among Arctic animal populations.

Toxoplasma, a parasite common in European cat populations, is now being found in polar bears in Greenland. Erysipelas, a disease of domestic pigs, is being found in Musk Oxen in the Canadian Arctic: the animals have also been found to have contracted Giardiasis, an intestinal parasite of humans. Meanwhile West Nile virus has been found in wolf pups in the Canadian Arctic.


Such diseases could have been transmitted in a variety of ways, says Heffernan. The spread of Toxoplasma, for example, might be the result of people flushing cat faeces down toilets in the US and Europe which are then carried by tides to the Arctic. More people are visiting the region. Tourists defecating in the wilds might be the cause of the spread of Erysipelas.

“The Arctic is like a Heathrow airport in terms of bird, seal and other migration patterns so that’s another way disease is easily spread” says Heffernan.  “And the disease pathway is not all one way – they can also be transmitted from the Arctic to elsewhere in the world.

“The point is no one is really joining up the dots between climate change and the spread of disease. There’s a whole new disease transmission cycle appearing in the Arctic which we just don’t understand.”

Impact on humans

Human disease levels in the Arctic are a continuing concern says Heffernan. Rates of TB among the Inuit of northern Canada are far higher than in the general population.

Major economic change and development now taking place in the Arctic means previously nomadic people are moving to towns in search jobs. Ice melt is also forcing more into settlements. With people living in close proximity to each other, disease tends to spread faster. Infant mortality in the Arctic, much of it due to diseases curable elsewhere in the world, is considerably higher than elsewhere.

“In 1930s there was a temperature spike in the Arctic which led to an outbreak of malaria” says Heffernan. “In subsequent years chloroquine was used to combat it. But what happens now, with temperatures rising and the prevalence of chloroquine resistant malaria?”

Anthrax alert

Early in the last century there were periodic outbreaks of anthrax in the Russian Arctic, resulting in the deaths of thousands of deer and cattle. Some Russian scientists and officials have warned that burial sites of those anthrax infected animals are now being exposed.

“As the Arctic melts, ancient pathogens can suddenly escape” says Heffernan. “No one knows for certain how many livestock burial sites there are in the Russian Arctic – I’ve seen estimates ranging from 400 to 13,000.”

In recent years there have been several anthrax outbreaks affecting both cattle and people reported in the region, particularly among communities of the indigenous Yakut, who often live near to such burial sites.

With Arctic temperatures rising at more than twice the rate of the rest of the world, Heffernan says there’s an urgent need to link disease and climate change and tackle health issues.

But there are a number of problems preventing concerted action: the Arctic is governed by different states with different laws. There’s not even a common agreement among Arctic nation states on the region’s boundaries. There’s a dearth of trained medical staff and research across the region. When it comes to statistics, the Arctic is something of a black hole with health data subsumed into more general country wide statistics.

“There’s very little biosecurity work going on in the Arctic” says Heffernan. “Yet we have the means to control so many of these diseases. There must be urgent, concerted, joined up action.”