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On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that Earth’s global temperature for February was among the hottest ever measured. So far, 2015 is tracking above record-warm 2014—which, when combined with the newly resurgent El Niño, means we’re on pace for another hottest year in history.
In addition to the just-completed warmest winter on record globally (despite the brutal cold and record snow in the eastern U.S.), new data on Thursday from the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that this year’s peak Arctic sea ice reached its lowest ever maximum extent, thanks to “an unusual configuration of the jet stream” that greatly warmed the Pacific Ocean near Alaska.
But here’s the most upsetting news. It’s been exactly 30 years since the last time the world was briefly cooler than its 20th-century average.Every single month since February 1985 has been hotter than the long-term average—that’s 360 consecutive months.
More than just being a round number, the 30-year streak has deeper significance. In climatology, a continuous 30-year stretch of data is traditionally what’s used to define what’s “normal” for a given location. In a very real way, we can now say that for our given location—the planet Earth—global warming is now “normal.” Forget debating—our climate has officially changed.
The “debate” on climate change is over. I again suggest a twenty-first century 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… mass extinction. Do you want to take that bet?
You are a clear and present danger to my grand-children’s future.
When the bees are gone, in four years we will be gone …
As environmentalists have long noted, bees and other pollinators are essential to the world’s food supply, farming system, and environment. However, both in Europe and the U.S., they have been threatened by industrial agriculture practices, insecticides, and climate change, which causes more heavy rainfalls, droughts, and heat waves that can harm bees and their access to food.
Bees are vital to food production but are in decline in many parts of the world. There are 1,965 wild bee species in Europe and 9.2 percent of them are at risk of extinction while another 5.2 percent are likely to be threatened in the near future, according to the international study, funded by the European Commission.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also said its study showed that 57 percent of all European bee species, which include types of bumblebees, honey bees and solitary bees, were so little known that it was impossible to judge whether they were at risk or not.
The implications of the study are quite troubling, said Karmenu Vella, head of the EU’s Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commission.
“Our quality of life—and our future—depends on the many services that nature provides for free,” Vella said. “Pollination is one of these services, so it is very worrying to learn that some of our top pollinators are at risk. If we don’t address the reasons behind this decline in wild bees, and act urgently to stop it, we could pay a very heavy price indeed.”
Environmental watchdogs such as Ariel Brunner, the head of EU policy at BirdLifeEurope, say the report should serve as “a wake up call to the ecological disaster that is unfolding in Europe’s countryside.”
Brunner told the Guardian, “It’s very clear that something is going horribly wrong with our agricultural practices which are the main driver of these declines, whether it is increased pesticide use, the destruction and conversion of grasslands, or the loss of natural vegetation and intensified farming methods.”
Echoing those remarks, Mark Brown of the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, told the BBC: “Bees need to be incorporated into how we think about and develop sustainable agriculture.”
To that end, earlier this week, a coalition of U.S.-based conservation and food-safety groups submitted a formal notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to consider the highly toxic impacts of a new systemic insecticide, flupyradifurone, on native pollinators such as butterflies and bees. The new insecticide would be especially harmful to imperiled, solitary bees like the blue orchard bee, the groups noted.
The budgets of both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense have landed themselves in the crosshairs of Republican budget slicers, but not for reasons you might expect: The GOP isn’t happy with the money the two national security agencies are spending on climate-change research.
“The Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency, two of the most important agencies in our national security apparatus, currently spend part of their budget studying climate change,” the Republican budget proposal reads, under its section on “Eliminating Waste.”
At first glance, climate change doesn’t seem like it would naturally fall under the mandates of the CIA and Defense Department, but it’s actually not far removed. A study published in March underscored a theory many had already embraced: that environmental impacts may serve as catalysts for regional instabilities. The study says a devastating drought likely fueled discontent and contributed to shortages and urban overcrowding that sparked the Syrian revolution.
“The joint chiefs of staff have testified repeatedly that climate change is a serious national security threat, and it accelerates problems of unrest and instability around the world,” said Senate Intelligence Committee member Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who added that he hadn’t seen the specific part of the budget proposal. “If we weren’t researching it, it would be a dereliction of our responsibility.”
“Terrarists,” those committing “terracide, – the conscious act of destroying the planet we live on” would do well to understand that the Founder Fathers left us with recourse for the tyrannies imposed upon the majority… by a minority.
The longer this goes on the harsher the blowback will be.
We do not forgive. We do not forget.
Whose side are you on?
It is not written in any culture’s Good Book that a few tiny groups of people have a divine right to get obscenely rich by any and all means – even means that will destroy the conditions for the continuation of civilization. [David Ray Griffin, author of “Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the CO2 Crisis?”]
“Terrarists,” those committing “terracide, – the conscious act of destroying the planet we live on” would do well to understand that The Second Amendment provides recourse for the tyrannies imposed upon the majority… by a minority. The longer this goes on the harsher the blowback will be. Those gated communities are no protection.
We do not forgive. We do not forget.
Whose side are you on?
So put down the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox/GOP_TV Kool-Aid and turn off the television, because if you live on the East Coast of the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just released some statistics that may surprise you:
Globally, this has been the hottest winter on record, topping the previous record (2007) by 0.05°F.
This was “the 19th warmest winter for the contiguous US.”
Globally it’s easily been the hottest start to any year (January-February), beating the previous records (2002, 2007) by 0.07°F.
This was the second warmest February globally, and “slightly below” the 20th-century average in the contiguous U.S.
Note: For NOAA, winter is the “meteorological winter” (December 2014 to February 2015).
As the NOAA map shows, other than the “cooler than average” northeast, this winter has been “warmer than average” and “much warmer than average” and “record warmest” over every other land area in the world.
In particular, many Western states saw their hottest winter on record — which is not a surprise if you live in drought-stricken California or its neighbors:
Now entering its fourth year, the drought in California is so bad that NASA senior water scientist Jay Famiglietti warned that “the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing.” Global warming-driven record heat has made this the worst California drought in 1200 years, as scientists explained in December.
The Earth keeps setting the record for the hottest 12 months in the surface temperature record, as we reported Saturday. NOAA’s global data show we’ve started this year at a record pace — and early indications are that March will be warm globally — so we are on track for what is likely to be the hottest calendar year on record.
You are a clear and present danger to my grand-childrens’ future.
John Cole over at Balloon Juice asks: “Does anyone have anything even remotely approaching what could be called a plan for when California runs out of water next year? Other than having ignorant ass James Inhofe hand carry snowballs there, of course.”
No, annexing Oregon won’t help. Because of the lay of the land, so to speak, the way the mountains surround us, other than the Klamath River it is physically impossible to syphon water off from Oregon to California. And that would be damned diffecult.
It’s one of the things that define Cascadia.
I again just the other day suggested a twenty-first century 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. You want to take that bet?
So put down the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox/GOP_TV Kool-Aid and turn off the television, because a hundred years from now humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise.
Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy — when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again. Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity.
The findings about East Antarctica emerge from a new paper just out in Nature Geoscience by an international team of scientists representing the United States, Britain, France and Australia. They flew a number of research flights over the Totten Glacier of East Antarctica — the fastest-thinning sector of the world’s largest ice sheet — and took a variety of measurements to try to figure out the reasons behind its retreat. And the news wasn’t good: It appears that Totten, too, is losing ice because warm ocean water is getting underneath it.
“The idea of warm ocean water eroding the ice in West Antarctica, what we’re finding is that may well be applicable in East Antarctica as well,” says Martin Siegert, a co-author of the study and who is based at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.
You are a clear and present danger to my grand-children’s future.
The United Nations body charged with guiding and implementing international climate policy has thrown its weight behind the growing fossil fuel divestment movement, lending “moral authority” to a campaign aimed at stemming global warming, the Guardian reported on Sunday.
“We support divestment as it sends a signal to companies, especially coal companies, that the age of ‘burn what you like, when you like’ cannot continue,” said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
World leaders are meeting this December in Paris to hammer out a sweeping, international climate agreement.
“Everything we do is based on science and the science is pretty clear that we need a world with a lot less fossil fuels,” Nuttall told the Guardian. “We have lent our own moral authority as the UN to those groups or organizations who are divesting. We are saying ‘we support your aims and ambitions because they are fairly and squarely our ambition,’ which is to get a good deal in Paris.”
As last month’s Global Divestment Day demonstrated, the call to divest from the fossil fuel industry is spreading.
According to Bloomberg, Oxford University will consider on Monday “whether to become the most prominent academic institution to join a growing movement in favor of divesting from publicly traded fossil fuel companies.”
And Divest Harvard is gearing up for a week of divestment actions in April, calling on Harvard University to:
- immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuel companies;
- immediately divest direct holdings (currently $19.6 million) from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies;
- divest indirect holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel companies within 5 years, and reinvest in socially responsible funds.
I have often suggested 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. You want to take that bet?
In an op-ed published Thursday by the Los Angeles Times, Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, painted a dire picture of the state’s water crisis. California, he writes, has lost around 12 million acre-feet of stored water every year since 2011. In the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins, the combined water sources of snow, rivers, reservoirs, soil water and groundwater amounted to a volume that was 34 million acre-feet below normal levels in 2014. And there is no relief in sight.
“As our ‘wet’ season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows” Famiglietti writes. “We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that one-third of the monitoring stations in California’s Cascades and Sierra Nevada mountains have recorded the lowest snowpack ever measured.
“Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing,” Famiglietti writes.
He criticized Californian officials for their lack of long-term planning for how to cope with this drought, and future droughts, beyond “staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.”
Last month, new research by scientists at NASA, Cornell University and Columbia University pointed to a “remarkably drier future” for California and other Western states amid a rapidly-changing climate. “Megadroughts,” the study’s authors wrote, are likely to begin between 2050 and 2099, and could each last between 10 years and several decades.
With that future in mind, Famiglietti says, “immediate mandatory water rationing” should be implemented in the state, accompanied by the swift formation of regulatory agencies to rigorously monitor groundwater and ensure that it is being used in a sustainable way—as opposed to the “excessive and unsustainable” groundwater extraction for agriculture that, he says, is partly responsible for massive groundwater losses that are causing land in the highly irrigated Central Valley to sink by one foot or more every year.
Various local ordinances have curtailed excessive water use for activities like filling fountains and irrigating lawns. But planning for California’s “harrowing future” of more and longer droughts “will require major changes in policy and infrastructure that could take decades to identify and act upon,” Famiglietti writes. “Today, not tomorrow, is the time to begin.”