Friday, March 30, 2012
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Scientific estimates differ but the world's temperature looks set to rise by six degrees Celsius by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to rise uncontrollably.
As emissions grow, scientists say the world is close to reaching thresholds beyond which the effects on the global climate will be irreversible, such as the melting of polar ice sheets and loss of rainforests.
"This is the critical decade. If we don't get the curves turned around this decade we will cross those lines," said Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University's climate change institute, speaking at a conference in London.
Global warming close to becoming irreversible-scientists
Planet Under Pressure 2012
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Posted by sensate at 6:27 PM
Friday, March 23, 2012
The warmer climate works in tandem with a wetter one. Merriam and much of the northern and eastern parts of Kansas have become a lot wetter, especially in the winter. The Midwest is experiencing heavier storms more often than it did in the past. Those storms can cause serious damage and cost communities some serious money. That's not all, though. Higher temperatures and more frequent downpours affect metro areas and their residents in a number of ways.
When you combine warm water and flash flooding, you get a risk of water-borne disease. That's because many harmful microorganisms favor higher temperatures. If floods overwhelm water-treatment facilities, those organisms can find their way into the pipes, out of the tap, and into your glass. This isn't something that happens only in underdeveloped countries or other places we can write off as "not like home." The sanitation infrastructure of American metro areas is impressive, but it's not infallible. Many parts of the Midwest have experienced increased precipitation from more numerous large storms. This isn't only a Kansas problem. In 1993, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, suffered an outbreak of gastrointestinal disease caused by the bacteria Cryptosporidium. This bacteria doesn't merely give you a tummy ache. Instead, it leads to a week or more of diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, and fever. Fifty-four people died. Just before the illness struck, the region had received its heaviest rainfall in fifty years.
Since 1993, researchers have found that heavy rainfalls are associated with higher levels of potentially dangerous bacteria. This has been measured in drinking water and in recreational waters. It's also turned up in floodwater. In 2008, when major flooding inundated Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, raw sewage came right out of the Cedar Rapids water-treatment plant and into the flood. Those contaminated waters sloshed into people's houses, and when the water finally receded, it left behind buildings full of muck and mold. The people tasked with cleanup duties suffered from what they called "flood crud," weeks of fatigue, cough, and other respiratory symptoms.
Speaking of breathing problems, warmer springs that bloom earlier in the year have also led to longer allergy seasons, and scientists say that the higher CO2 concentrations found in traffic-heavy cities and metros are causing plants to have higher pollen counts. This means that people who weren't affected by allergies thirty or forty years ago might be sniffling and stuffy today, and Merriam residents who have always had allergies now have to deal with them for longer periods of the year.
Air pollution is another big problem. In the heat of a hot and sunny day, tailpipe emissions from cars turn into lung-damaging, heart-straining smog. In any metro area, including Merriam, the more relatively hot days you have, the greater the risks of smog-associated asthma and heart attacks. Kansas City, Kansas, and Overland Park—two cities near Merriam—spent more than $13 million on asthma treatment in 2001. The more risk there is of smog-related lung damage, the higher those costs will rise.
During the next thirty years or so, a warmer, wetter Merriam might be, in some ways, a more comfortable place to live—the last few decades have brought longer growing seasons for plants and winter temperatures that are more reliably pleasant. Yet Merriam is also becoming a more expensive place to live and a place where the individual risk of illness and property damage is going up—and up and up. The more greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere, the higher the global average temperature will eventually climb. As that happens, Merriam and places like it all around the United States will be exposed to risks that are greater and more numerous.
Some people talk about thresholds for climate change—how many years we have left to act, how much CO2 we can afford to release, how high of a global average temperature we can accept before all hell breaks loose. I'm not sure that's really a great way to think about it, though. Our climate is already changing. The risks are already being realized, and every emissions reduction goalpost ever set is somewhat arbitrary. There's not a magic number that can save us. Instead, we should really just be trying to limit the continuation of climate change as much and as fast as possible.
If that isn't enough to worry about, metros such as Merriam are also likely to be hard hit when oil production peaks and higher gasoline prices follow.
There's an increasingly large collection of research telling us it probably isn't a good idea to rely solely on fossil fuels. Why? Because those fuels are finite. There's only so much of them to go around—although it is still open to debate exactly how finite the supplies of oil, coal, and natural gas are.
The following is an excerpt from Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us (John Wiley & Sons, 2012), by Maggie Koerth-Baker.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Professors Will Steffen, Matthew England and David Karoly, in a paper to be released today by the Climate Commission, find global warming may have contributed to the strength of the La Nina event and the heavy rainfall and flooding.Record La Nina linked to climate change
La Nina is due to dissipate by the end of April.
Friday, March 16, 2012
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”Read the rest here :The choice between ignorance and knowledge
No one person so personifies this attitude as does Oklahoma’s Senior Senator James Inhofe. He deserves mention now for two reasons. One is the fact that should the Republican Party gain control of the Senate in 2012, Inhofe would be come Chair of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment. The second is that he will use his position to perpetuate a hoax on the American public … one that is ironically the centerpiece of his new book: “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.” The irony here is that the real hoax is being perpetrated by Sen. Inhofe.
You can read the book, should you really want to make up your own mind. It did get some rave reviews on Amazon within a few hours of being available. However, if you do, I would ask that you also read “The Hockey Stick” and the “Climate Wars” by Dr. Michael Mann. From the first book, you get reassurance that the Bible says God won’t allow this to happen. In the second, you have the evidence that it really is happening along with a narrative of the extraordinary efforts that have been made to discredit Dr. Mann and a number of his fellow climatologists.
It is easy to check just how far Sen. Inhofe will go to perpetuate his hoax hoax. If you go to his U.S. Senate web page, there is a link labeled “Hundreds of Scientists Dispute Global Warming Alarmism.” It links to a list of names compiled by then Inhofe staffer Marc Morano and published in 2008. The only trouble with this is the fact that the entire list is itself a fake. Some of the people on the list are not scientists. Some that have credentials are not climatologists. But more importantly, a number of been misquoted, misinterpreted, misrepresented to the point that they have asked to have their names taken off the list … but of course that did not happen.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Monday, March 12, 2012
Friday, March 9, 2012
While they wax philosophical, there are a lot of powerful people who are foisting an illusion off as reality, e.g. Koch brothers... who are the evil twins of the Wizard of Oz. There is an epidemic of this sort of thing. Corporations are people (if they were, they'd be institutionalized as sociopaths), eggs are chickens and acorns are trees. Are we really so gullible?
In a decade or two nobody will be waxing philosophical about the mass extinctions and massive death toll that climate change will cause. I wonder if there will be an equivalent of the Nuremberg trials for the Koch ilk.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
A Note to Joe Romm and Tom Friedman: Sorry, we need an RD&D, RD&D, Deploy, RD&D, RD&D, Deploy Clean Energy Strategy
We have met the enemy and the enemy is us. At least, that’s what the climate and energy policy discussion has devolved into. If the biggest barrier to implementing high-impact policy change is those that fundamentally believe climate change is not a problem (or real) then the next biggest barrier is those that think we can simply deploy our way to deep global carbon emission cuts with existing technology. In fact the latter is potentially more harmful now to creating the kinds of policies that will allow the globe to drastically cut carbon emissionsA Note to Joe Romm and Tom Friedman: Sorry, we need an RD&D, RD&D, Deploy, RD&D, RD&D, Deploy Clean Energy Strategy
Go read the whole thing
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Why So Many Tornadoes?: A “just right” mixture of energy and churning winds have already made 2012 an especially active—and deadly—year for tornadoes. In January, there were 95 twisters reported in the U.S., far above the 1991-2010 average of 35, according to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center....
Posted by sensate at 11:49 AM