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GISSJan-April2015So put down the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox Kool-Aid and turn off the television, because you have just lived through the hottest January through April on record, and it is increasingly likely that 2015 will be the hottest year on record, possibly by a wide margin.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has just predicted a 90 percent chance that the El Niño it declared in March will last through the summer and “a greater than 80 percent chance it will last through 2015.” El Niños generally lead to global temperature records, as the short-term El Niño warming adds to the underlying long-term global warming trend.

And in fact, with April, we have once again broken the record for the hottest 12 months on record: May 2014 – April 2015. The previous record was April 2014 – March 2015, set last month. The record before that was March 2014 – February 2015. And the equally short-lived record before that was February 2014 – January 2015.

As we keep breaking records in 2015, our headlines are going to sound like a … broken record. May has already started out hot, and it is quite likely next month we will report “The Hottest 5-Month Start Of Any Year On Record,” and that June 2014 – May 2015 will become hottest 12 months on record.

You are a clear and present danger to my grandchildren’s future.

Fear me.

Climate Progress: Corn ethanol may be breaking the law, according to a study from last month, “Cropland Expansion Outpaces Agricultural and Biofuel Policies in the United States.”

It appears that corn was caught yellow-handed by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers in a plot with other crops like soy to replace “millions of acres of grasslands.” But scientists named corn the ring-leader: “Corn was the most common crop planted directly on new land.”

I know you’re wondering, “since when is it illegal to replace carbon-storing grassland with the Walter White of Biofuels?” Answer: Since the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), “which requires blending of gasoline with biofuels that are supposed to be grown only on pre-existing cropland, in order to minimize land-use change and its associated greenhouse gas emissions,” as the UWM news release explains.

Now if only anybody were actually enforcing the law, the anti-hero of biofuels would be perp-walked to prison for destroying the very environment it was supposed to help protect.

We last saw the evil genius called corn ethanol in a 2013 piece headlined, “Biofuels Policy Helping Destroy U.S. Grasslands At Fastest Rate Since 1930s, Boosting Threat of Dust-Bowlification.”

This new UMW study is the “first comprehensive analysis of land-use change across the U.S. between 2008 and 2012.” University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers “tracked crop-specific expansion pathways across the conterminous US and identified the types, amount, and locations of all land converted to and from cropland” during that time.

Scientists learned that crops “expanded onto 7 million acres of new land,” during those four years and replaced “millions of acres of grasslands.” Half of that was new soy and corn, which was increasingly used to make biofuels between 2008 and 2012 to meet U.S. government mandates, which included a minimum target of over 12 billion gallons of biofuels for in 2010.

What was the climate impact of this expansion? The University of Wisconsin-Madison concluded:

“The conversion to corn and soy alone, the researchers say, could have emitted as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as 34 coal-fired power plants operating for one year — the equivalent of 28 million more cars on the road.”

Corn ethanol should get its own show on HBO or AMC.

The Renewable Fuels Association, which is the “the authoritative voice of the U.S. ethanol industry,” has responded to this peer-reviewed study with a blog post by their Senior Vice President, Geoff Cooper. Cooper points out this is a very difficult calculation to do and that the dataset the authors use for this purpose has been called into question. Ideally, the RFS will put their critique through the peer-review process to publish it in a journal.

It seems not a month goes by that a study doesn’t come out condemning the fuel that now comprises some 10 percent of U.S. gasoline. “New airborne measurements downwind from an ethanol fuel refinery in Decatur, Illinois, show that ethanol emissions are 30 times higher than government estimates,” we learned just this Tuesday, for instance, when NOAA published a study on “ozone-forming compounds” generated by a corn ethanol refinery. “The measurements also show emissions of all volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which include ethanol, were five times higher than government numbers, which estimate emissions based on manufacturing information.”

What will we learn in June, that corn ethanol is “behind uptick in abandoned kittens“? Okay, maybe not that, but still.

In a 2011 post titled, “The Corn Ultimatum asks: How long can Americans keep burning one sixth the world’s corn supply in our cars?” If we don’t voluntarily abandon corn ethanol, it seems inevitable that human-caused climate change and Dust-Bowlification will ultimately arrest its development:

soil moisture

If we stay on business-as-usual CO2 emissions, we will turn the normal climate of our breadbasket into “severe drought.” Growing enough food for Americans, let alone the countries we currently help feed, won’t leave much land available for crop-based biofuels (Via NASA).

You are a clear and present danger to my grandchildren’s future. Fear me.

So put down the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox Kool-Aid and turn off the television, because this is the Enterprise Bridge over Lake Oroville in Butte County, California. Been over it many times back in my logging days. Lake Oroville has an interesting logging history: rather than the yarding (skidding) and trucking of logs out of the woods to the mill they were left to lie until the rising water floated them to a staging area and railhead at the dam.

Built a lot of houses in New York City with that lumber.
lakeorovillewaterlevel

The picture on the left is July 2011. The picture on the right is the lake today.

Felicia Marcus of the State Water Resources Board told an audience last week:

We don’t know if its going to rain next year.

We don’t know if its going to rain after that.

This Was The Hottest 3-Month Start Of Any Year On Record

You are a clear and present danger to my grandchildrens’ survival. Fear me.

Senate’s Biggest Climate Deniers Demanding EPA Explain Climate Models To Them

I often suggest a variation of Pascal’s Wager: If I am wrong, if the climate is not changing, the world not warming to in-habitability in my grand-childrens’ generation, I don’t lose a bloody damned thing.  If you, the denier, are wrong, we all lose, our grand-children lose, the only world we know of we can live on. End of the road, way of the dinosaurs… extinction. Do you want to take that bet?

We do not forgive. We do not forget.

Fear us.

The dirty secret of California’s water problem is that agriculture constitutes 80% of California’s water, though only contributes 2% to California’s economy.

Yes, taking shorter showers and washing cars less often will help a little. Restricting the watering of useless lawns will help a little more. But that’s all a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the water being used by the agriculture industry.

This isn’t just a problem in California. Climate change-induced drought is a challenge across the western and southern United States and in many other countries around the world. What will we do about food production?

So put down the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox Kool-Aid and turn off the television, because the coldest place on Earth just got warmer than has ever been recorded.

world on fireAccording to the weather blog Weather Underground, on Tuesday, March 24, the temperature in Antarctica rose to 63.5°F (17.5C) — a record for the polar continent. Part of a longer heat wave, the record high came just a day after the previous record was set at 63.3°F.

These temperature records occurred nearly three months past the warmest time of year in the Antarctic Peninsula, December, when the average high is 37.8°F. The average high for March is 31.3°F, making this week’s records more than 30°F above average. Burt also points out that temperature records for Esperanza have previously occurred in October and April, so these spikes are not unheard of.

They should also not be unexpected: the poles are warming faster than any part of the planet and rapid ice melt is being observed at increased rates in Antarctica. According to a new study, ice shelves in West Antarctica have lost as much as 18 percent of their volume over the last two decades, with rapid acceleration occurring over the last decade. The study found that from 1994 to 2003, the overall loss of ice shelf volume across the continent was negligible, but over the last decade West Antarctic losses increased by 70 percent.

According to the British Antarctic Survey, since records for the Antarctic Peninsula began half a century ago, the average temperature has risen about 5°F, making it “the most rapidly warming region in the Southern Hemisphere – comparable to rapidly warming regions of the Arctic.”

While the polar regions are feeling the most severe temperature changes brought on by the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, areas across the globe are setting record highs at a much faster rate than record lows. Since 2010, 46 nations or territories out of 235 have set or tied record highs. Only four have set record lows. According to the Weather Underground, so far this year, five nations or territories have tied or set all-time records for their highest temperature: Antarctica, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Wallis and Futuna Territory, and Samoa.

You are a clear and present danger to my grand-children’s future. Fear me.

I am not going to stop suggesting a twenty-first century variation of Pascal’s WagerPascal of course the seventeenth century philosophermathematician and physicist who so frightened The Church that his head to this day resides pickled in a jar somewhere in the catacombs of the Vatican. Simply put: If I am wrong, if the climate is not changing, the world not warming to in-habitability in my grand-childrens’ generation, I don’t lose a bloody damned thing.  If you, the denier, are wrong, we all lose, our grand-children lose, the only world we know of we can live on. End of the road, dinosaurs… extinction. Do you want to take that bet?

HD1final-1

 

Snowfall on Half-dome in Yosemite Valley on March 19 of 2012 and 2015

There was certainly no shortage of water in the Northeast this winter. Boston and several other communities saw record snowfall. But in other parts of the North America, a swinging jet stream exacerbated an already dire prolonged drought, stretching the breadth of the entire Southwest, from California to Texas. Even parts of the Midwest bread basket are thirsty.

There are two factors driving the drought: growth, and climate change. As the population increases, demand on surface water and aquifers grows relentlessly. The dipping, winding jet stream, a phenomenon tentatively linked to amplified warming of the Arctic, denies water to much of the western half of the US while dropping more than needed further east. It’s a fair prediction that there will be no relief in terms of reduced population growth or mitigating changes in climate anytime soon. But we don’t have to count on lucky rainstorms to relieve water shortages. There are other solutions.

The Canadian Wetback running for President…

imagesCruzing for a Fact-Check Bruising: “Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has announced he’s running for President in 2016. This means it’s going to be a busy campaign season for fact checkers, who have already started the Sisyphean task of correcting Cruz. […] Chris Mooney demonstrated one way for journalists to deal with presidential climate claims by contacting a climate scientist, who made it clear that Cruz was cherry-picking. Michelle Ye Hee Lee examined the satellite comment for WaPo’s Fact Checker column, giving Cruz ‘Three Pinnochios’ for his misleading statements.

Philip Bump took a critical look at Cruz’s comparison of deniers to Galileo and other comments, stating, ‘There’s not much Cruz got right.’ Most amusing (and original) would be Mooney’s column on Cruz’s Galileo defense. Mooney points out that, first and foremost, Cruz botched the history, saying, “Galileo was branded a denier,” for not accepting that the Earth was flat. This is just plain wrong, because Galileo’s ordeal was about whether the Earth orbited the Sun. Going further, Mooney contacted some historians, who made it clear that when it comes to the Galileo comparison, deniers are off base. One science historian pointed out that Galileo wasn’t attacked by scientists (as Cruz suggests) but by “the power structure of his day.’ And in modern times, ‘Climate contrarians are on the side of, and are supported by, the power structure of our day, which is the Republican Party and the carbon-combustion complex.'” [emphasis added]

It is a clear and present danger to my grand-children’s future.

Yes, “it”. It isn’t human. It is less than sufficiently evolved, less than human.

Given the weather anomalies of the past few years (and the phenomena caused by them, such as wildfires), the methane “time bomb” in the Arctic (also this video), and the fact that the Arctic is our “canary in the coal mine,” one might think that our “leaders” in Washington would be preoccupied with the matter of global warming (or, as some prefer, “climate change”).

there-is-no-planet-B-photo-by-Freya-Schork-2013Especially given that the high degree of interdependence that exists in our society is a “recipe for disaster”:  It means that our society is extremely fragile, and in consequence could easily collapse with a slight “push.”  What’s ironic about that “push” is that although it would come directly from Nature, theultimate responsibility for it would be our own—our burning of fossil fuels, along with our deforestation activities.

Needless to say, our “leaders” are doing “next to nothing” about global warming; in fact, virtually everyone in our society is simply “going about business as usual,” as if nothing of significance is going on “out there.”  In short, our nation seems to be in the grip of nonchalance, and that fact is puzzling.  Or is it?  In point of fact, despite the fact that ours is the most intelligent of species, several factors help explain why we humans—we Americans in particular—are not using that intelligence.

I’m getting hot,” croaked the frog as he floated in a pot of water from which steam was beginning to rise.

“Me too,” croaked the other frog as she paddled listlessly. “This water used to be warm. Now it’s too hot.”

“Oh well…nothing we can do about it. Maybe it’ll get better.”

“Let’s enjoy what we can,” she croaked. “We’ll listen to the music and watch the pictures on the ceiling that keep changing. They’re pretty.”

“OK…I’m feeling dreamy.”

As the water simmered, the frogs slipped into a stupor; they were unconscious as they began to boil.

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