pril 17 8:20 AM

 A second garbage patch: Plastic seen in Atlantic – Researchers are warning of a new blight at sea: a swirl of confetti-like plastic debris stretching over a remote expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.The floating garbage — hard to spot from the surface and spun together by a vortex of currents — was documented by two groups of scientists who trawled the sea between scenic Bermuda and Portugal‘s mid-Atlantic Azores islands. The studies describe a soup of micro-particles similar to the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a phenomenon discovered a decade ago between Hawaii and California that researchers say is likely to exist in other places around the globe."We found the great Atlantic garbage patch," The debris is harmful for fish, sea mammals — and at the top of the food chain, potentially humans — even though much of the plastic has broken into such tiny pieces they are nearly invisible.
 
P. Huybers & C. Langmuir, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 286 (2009), Feedback between deglaciation, volcanism, and atmospheric CO2 CO2 output from the increased subaerial volcanism appears large enough to influence glacial/interglacial CO2 variations. We estimate subaerial emissions during deglaciation to be between 1000 and 5000Gt of CO2 above the long term average background flux, assuming that emissions are proportional to the frequency of eruptions. After accounting for equilibration with the ocean, this additional CO2 flux is consistent in timing and magnitude with ice core observations of a 40-ppm increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration during the second half of the last deglaciation. Estimated decreases in CO2 output from ocean ridge volcanoes compensate for only 20% of the increased subaerial flux.  If such a large volcanic output of CO2 occurs, then volcanism forges a positive feedback between glacial variability and atmospheric CO2 concentrations: deglaciation increases volcanic eruptions, raises atmospheric CO2, and causes more deglaciation. Such a positive feedback may contribute to the rapid passage from glacial to interglacial periods. Conversely, waning volcanic activity during an interglacial could lead to a reduction in CO2 and the onset of an ice age. Whereas glacial/interglacial variations in CO2 are generally attributed to oceanic mechanisms, it is suggested that the vast carbon reservoirs associated with the solid Earth may also play an important role.
 
Pumping tax dollars to big oil – Getting priorities right on tax subsidies for oil companies  – ExxonMobil paid no U.S. federal income tax in 2009. In fact, it was entitled to a $156 million tax refund. Why?  CAP’s Sima J. Gandhi, has the answer in this repost. The answer is more boring than you think: It overpaid its 2008 taxes. ExxonMobil was required to bolster its pension plan by $3 billion when the market went down in 2008.  But what’s more interesting about this story is Exxon’s effective income tax rate. Exxon has over the past couple years paid a U.S. federal income tax that is about 10 percent lower than its non-U.S. effective tax rate. Other oil companies also pay less, and in some years this difference has approached 50 percentage points.* Oil companies pay less in U.S. taxes in part because they receive generous tax subsidies. These subsidies will cost the U.S. government about $3 billion next year in lost revenue and nearly $20 billion over the next five years.

 Air Traffic Congestion and The Flow of Funds – Brussels Disruption of air traffic because of the spread of volcanic ash from Iceland worsened on Saturday with no landings or takeoffs possible for civilian aircraft in most of northern and central Europe. Imagine, instead of stranded passengers, stranded money. Imagine, instead of volcanic ash creating doubts about the safety of flying, a poor auction, bankruptcy, financial fraud charge, or regulatory change creating doubts about the safety of investments. Just as planes don’t have to crash, concern itself is enough to stop the flow of passengers; investments don’t have to go bust, concern itself is enough to stop the flow of money. Stranded passengers mean work will be undone, meetings will be postponed, and dates will be cancelled. Stranded money means the same things- bills may not be paid, investments may be postponed, and equity and security issues may be cancelled.

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