Saturday, December 29, 2012

Marc Morano

I don't know anything about truthout, where I found this, but if it seems like a reliable source, then this is very interesting, and Marc Morano is someone to watch out for.

But these darned interwebs, kids!  (They're a series of tubes, you know.)  How do you know what's real, and what's not?  Who is telling the truth?  Who can you believe?  Who's a shill for Big Corporate Interests, and who is a tin foil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist?

In this case, even without knowing anything about truthout, I am inclined to believe the piece, as they note Morano is heavily involved with the Heartland Institute and the climate change denial website ClimateDepot.com.  The folks at Climate Depot seem delighted to have received the "Warmist" award, and with the fact that Morano was named 'Climate Change Misinformer of the Year' by Media Matters.  Well, yay for them.





Thursday, December 27, 2012

A CleanTech Future?

That's what Planet Earth Herald is asking about today.

I officially logged in with facebook (just like all the young kids today!) and counted myself as skeptical.  ACTION needed, people.  Hair on fire!

Have you seen any "CleanTech" in your world recently?  Any nano-particles clean up after you lately?  Go anywhere via "green mobility?"  Did you even use less wrapping paper this winter solstice holiday season?

Yeah, I thought not.

This is us.

AlterNet.org is reporting something particularly awful.

According to this report, "the world's most authoritative voice on climate science has consistently understated the rate and intensity of climate change and the danger those impacts represent."

Ye gods.  Really - that's the kind of language that is appropriate here.  Ye gods!  Particularly in light of recent reports of how much more quickly the arctic ice is melting than "previously predicted."  By who?  Maybe these "previous predictions" were by the IPCC?



Huffington Post's Climate Change News of 2012

This piece, Huffington Post's top climate change stories for all of 2012, was front and center yesterday.  Today, I had to click "green" in the little breadcrumbs on the nav bar, and scroll more than halfway down the page to find it again!

Seems like a big story like this wouldn't fall off the front page that fast - but perhaps I am naive.



Monday, December 24, 2012

Dylan Moran making a very good point.

And Io Saturnalia to all 3 of my loyal readers!  :-)

Dylan Moran.  Bonus humor.  But he's right.


Bamboo!

Just added a bunch of information on bamboo to the More Information page.  Check it out.

Apparently, bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide, and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere than an equivalent grove of hardwood trees.  And it grows insanely fast.  And almost anyone can grow it!  Got a little chunk of land?  How about a lovely bamboo grove?


ThinkProgress

Oops!  I almost forgot to check out what Think Progress had to say (last month!) on the World Bank's report.

And more good stuff from Think Progress, including Joe Romm's May 2012 piece featuring some chilling video, a report on bad math in the Wall Street Journal, and excellent reporting on "the climate story of the year."  Although I am not sure I share the author's sanguine appraisal of 2012's weather as a "game changer" politically.

Instead, I think I agree with myself.  We've moved from outright denial to slump-shouldered, weary acceptance, without passing through a phase of political activism.  And that may be the scariest thing of all.



Thank you, AlterNet...

(Nick Buxton & Ben Hayes) for this amazing, and yet not surprising, piece on how defense and security companies are planning to cash in on climate change and environmental collapse.  Astounding and disturbing, to say the least.

And I quote:

"Confronted with one of the greatest challenges our planet and its peoples have faced, our political leaders have clearly failed us. In stark contrast to the radical coordinated action to bail out banks and prop-up the financial system, governments have instead chosen to step aside, giving a free hand to the markets and the fossil fuel giants, rather than daring a carefully planned conversion of our carbon-based economies. Their choice is not one of inaction, as is often suggested, but one of actively ensuring dangerous climate change. For every coal plant built in China, oil field mined in the Arctic, or shale gas field fracked in the US locks in carbon into the atmosphere for up to 1000 years and means that even radical steps to decarbonise in future years may not be sufficient to prevent runaway global warming."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

And I suggest more of this.


Do You Find the Tone of This Piece Puzzling?

The Seattle Times doing their bit to sound the klaxon about climate change... sort of.  Very odd tone, I thought.  A bit rueful, but mostly a giant virtual shrug of the shoulders.  Nothin' we can do about it.  Let's have a bit of a collective rumination on the shortened skiing season, and move along.

No call to action.  No suggestion that the "new normal" referred to might be bad in any way.  Not a peep about what any individual might or might not be able to do to spur political action.  Just a heavy sigh.  'Cause hey!  What can ya' do?

Thinking about it, let me change my assessment from "puzzling" to "horrifying."  This is precisely the kind of story we do not need.  The consequences of human-made climate change will not simply be a longer drive to the slopes and a little less snow in winter Seattle.

Here's what NASA has to say about the effects of climate change.  And in case you don't have the energy to follow the link, here's a handy chart -


Phenomena: Likelihood of trend
Contraction of snow cover areas, increased thaw in permafrost regions, decrease in sea ice extent:  Virtually certain
Increased frequency of hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation:  Very likely to occur
Increase in tropical cyclone intensity:  Likely to occur
Precipitation increases in high latitudes:  Very likely to occur
Precipitation decreases in subtropical land regions:  Very likely to occur
Decreased water resources in many semi-arid areas, including western U.S. and Mediterranean basin:  High confidence

And here are the definitions of those likelihood ranges: virtually certain >99%, very likely >90%, likely >66%.

A screen grab from the NASA climate change pages:
 

West Antarctica Warming Twice as Fast as Predicted

That is all.

Okay, that's not all.  Here's NPR's piece, from late November.

Sure is pretty!



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mark Twain No More

Every 5th grader used to know that "Mark Twain" means "Mark number two."  This Mississippi River term from days gone by referred to the second mark on a line that steamboats used to measure how deep the water was.  "Mark twain" is two fathoms - twelve feet - a safe depth for steamboats.

Mother Jones is reporting that navigation on our mightiest river - and vital shipping channel - is becoming nearly impossible because of extremely low water levels caused by a record drought.

Choose your poison, people.  What's it to be?  Drought?  Flood?  Pestilence?  It's starting to sound Biblical around here.
10 Plagues from Children's Illustrated Bible

Thinking outside the box.

That's something we need to do, when we think about climate change.  And it may not be enough - because we are about to enter territory where the rules will change, and change drastically, in ways that we may not be able to accurately predict.

Writing today on AlterNet, editor Tara Lohan - author of the new book "Water Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save Our Most Critical Resource" - presents five reasons that climate change is going to be more dangerous than we think.

She starts with flesh eating fungi.  Yes, FLESH EATING FUNGI.  And this one isn't supposition.  Ms. Lohan writes "After a powerful tornado hit Joplin, Missouri last May, 13 people were infected with Apophysomyces — five of them died."

In other words, this isn't future fantasy - it's something that has already happened.  And what's going to be one symptom of climate change?  That's right - wild weather.  Like tornados, and other weather events that might result in you or I being punctured by a piece of dirt-encrusted wood, on which lives a population of Apophysomyce fungi.

Treehugger has more to say on this topic, here.

If flesh eating fungi isn't something you'd thought of as a consequence of global climate change, you are not alone.  I imagine you could poll a thousand folks right now and ask them what they thought will happen as the Earth warms, and not one of them would come up with that answer.

And the scary thing is, this is just ONE thing.  ONE consequence.  And it's one that we can point to because it has happened before.  But what else is lurking out there on the horizon that, once it happens, will seem face-plant duh! logical, but that we aren't able to envision now?

I am guessing a lot of things.

So in addition to hurricanes, floods, wild fires, crop-killing droughts, food rationing, mass starvation, riots, and everything else you can imagine as logical sequelæ to climate change, there are things that none of us can imagine.  And they may be worse - much worse - than what I have listed above.

Fear-mongering?  I don't think so.  I think we need to summon the will to use strong, even shocking language to drive home the point that humanity is now engaging in a vast, unprecedented, planet-wide experiment with the climate, and that the consequences may be terminal for our current lifeways.  At what cost silence?  At what cost politesse?  At what cost not speaking out urgently and insisting on political and personal change?

I don't know.  No one does.  But I'd rather feel silly later than miss what may be our last opportunity to stop the climate change train before it irrevocably leaves the station.  If it hasn't already.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Today, what happened in Newtown is more important.

And I don't much feel like blogging about climate change - or anything else - today.  Can't get the President's speech last night out of my mind.

White lights.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Men's Journal asks - "Will the West Survive"

I've been droning on about melting ice and rising sea levels - but of course there's another side to climate change, and that's heat, and fire.  This Men's Journal's piece is LONG but riveting and well-written.

Teaser:  "Record-breaking heat waves, a fire season run amok, sustained levels of drought unseen since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s: Throughout the summer of 2012, the weather came on like a grudge, as spiteful and relentless as an Old Testament plague. It was the hottest July ever in the United States, and the third-hottest summer in the history of the country. By September, 7 million acres had burned across the U.S.: 600,000 acres in Nevada; 144,000 in Idaho; 650,000 in Montana."

And that's only the third paragraph.

Here's another stunner: "Something looked off when I landed at Denver International Airport this past August. It had been about four years since my last visit, and I couldn't immediately put my finger on what was up. I bought a coffee, glanced at the 'Denver Post,' and wandered out into the main terminal, with its silly bedouin design, the domed white ceiling looking as flimsy and tarplike as ever. It wasn't until I was outside, riding in the shuttle bus to my rental car, that it struck me what had changed: The Rocky Mountains had vanished."


Friday, December 14, 2012

Americans Get It

At least according to a new poll, reported today on Huffington Post, they do.

And it's a fascinating piece, packed with amazing stats, like this: "Overall, 78 percent of those surveyed said they thought temperatures were rising and 80 percent called it a serious problem. That's up slightly from 2009, when 75 percent thought global warming was occurring and just 73 percent thought it was a serious problem. In general, U.S. belief in global warming, according to AP-GfK and other polls, has fluctuated over the years but has stayed between about 70 and 85 percent."

And this: "Overall, the 78 percent who think temperatures are rising is not the highest percentage of Americans who have believed in climate change, according to AP polling. In 2006, less than a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, 85 percent thought temperatures were rising. The lowest point in the past 15 years for belief in warming was in December 2009, after some snowy winters and in the middle of an uproar about climate scientists' emails that later independent investigations found showed no manipulation of data."

 But notice the fascinating part.  Belief in climate change has GONE DOWN since Hurricane Katrina!  So it appears that folks' beliefs change based on what they read in the news and see on their thermometer - not based on the scientific evidence that is presented to them.  Which means I am not feeling particularly hopeful about getting Americans in gear to do something now - which is what we have to do - because climate change isn't always going to manifest locally as a straight linear rise in temperatures.  One big blizzard in Chicago, and a whole bunch of us decide, "Nope!  No climate change after all!"

That's rather depressing for a Friday morning.  I believe I will go have some coffee.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Evidence

Here it is, from NASA.  It's really all you need to know.

Shocking screen grab shown, but click through and read the whole thing.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

No One Said the Science Was Easy

And maybe that's why many of us just aren't tracking - aren't paying attention - aren't keeping up.

Science Daily is reporting today that a study in "Nature" suggests that Antarctica's contribution to global sea-level rise is probably greater than hitherto estimated, because ice gain due to increased snowfall is countered by an acceleration of ice-flow to the ocean.

Yep - you need to be a scientician to figure this stuff out.  You do not need to be a scientician to get the larger message - which is that climate change is human-made, is at least as bad as you have been hearing and is likely worse, and that we are on a VERY tight timeline to turn things around, if indeed we still can.

There are immensely complex feedback loops and interconnected systems at play.  Just because sometimes my little brain freezes up when I read the literature does not make findings like those reported by this recent study not true.  Alas, it probably does mean that the popular media are NOT reporting on some of the bigger discoveries and papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.


Calving Event the Size of Manhattan

Again from the Guardian comes this piece, that features perhaps the most stunning, chilling, jaw-dropping piece of video I have seen this year - or for the past five years.

At about the 3 minute mark the researcher explains, in calm, measured tones, what you have just seen.  The understatement only highlights the enormity of what's happened, which is that a glacier the SIZE OF MANHATTAN ISLAND (7.4 cubic km) has calved off the Ilulissat glacier in Greenland.

It almost looks like CGI, it's that outside of one's normal frame of reference.  It's also part of the overall (and accelerating) melting of Greenland's ice that is contributing about 20% to the world's sea level rise.
Except that it isn't...

Sea Levels Rising Faster Than Predicted - and Accelerating

The Guardian reported on November 27th that US coastal cities are in danger as sea levels rise faster than expected.  

In fact, the paper notes, sea levels are rising much faster than initially predicted, endangering "low-lying population centers" (that's dry, enervated language for places that a LOT of people live, like New York City, Los Angeles, and Jacksonville, Florida) and requiring even more ambitious efforts (dry, enervated language for huge legislative measures and associated public works projects) from authorities to protect them.

From the NY Emergency Manager's Page, NOAA


The Guardian piece quotes a more extensive report by Climate Central.  Entitled "Surging Seas," the report is grimmer than grim.  Here's just a sample:

"Global warming has raised sea level about eight inches since 1880, and the rate of rise is accelerating. Scientists expect 20 to 80 more inches this century, a lot depending upon how much more heat-trapping pollution humanity puts into the sky. This study makes mid-range projections of 1 to 8 inches by 2030, and 4 to 19 inches by 2050, depending upon location across the contiguous 48 states."


"Warming and sea level rise are both accelerating, as is the rate of decay of ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica.  Loss of ice from these sources has the potential to raise sea level by many tens of feet over centuries. In the warm period before the last Ice Age – when the planet was as warm as we expect it to become by 2100 or sooner, at least without deep and immediate cuts to pollution – global sea level very likely reached over 20 feet higher than it is today, an eventual sea level we could be committing to within decades if not already.  That rise would be enough to drown many major coastal metropolises."

"The population and homes exposed are just part of the story. Flooding to four feet would reach higher than a huge amount of dry land, covering some 3 million acres of roads, bridges, commercial buildings, military bases, agricultural lands, toxic waste dumps, schools, hospitals, and more. Coastal flooding made worse by global warming and rising seas promises to cause many billions of dollars of damage over the coming decades."



Al Gore Slams President Obama

So says the Huffington Post, in a post on December 6th.

Truth to tell, I wish the president - who I ardently support, admire, and wish the best - would be more forceful in his calls for immediate action on climate change.  But he's not doing it - so WE HAVE TO.

That's right - YOU HAVE TO.  I HAVE TO.  At the very least, why not take Al Gore's new Climate Change Reality Pledge?  All they want is your email address, first and last name, and the name of the country in which you reside.  And then you're asked to watch some videos.  I can do that while pretending to get caught up on my work email, can't you?  :-)




Snow-Free Chicago?

Jaw-dropping news from Chi-town.  Huffington Post reports, "As Tuesday began in Chicago, the city entered its 282nd consecutive day without "measurable" -- a tenth of an inch or more -- snowfall for the first time since 1994."

I guess 1967 really was the "good old days," from a climate change perspective.   Check out the bounteous piles of white stuff.















In fact, as evidenced by these great aerial shots, there was a great big old blizzard waaaay back in 2011, as well.  It's this sort of thing that gives climate change deniers grist for their willful ignorance mill. 

Climate Counts

As reported by Huffington Post today, the organization Climate Counts has posted their latest corporate climate scorecard,comparing companies on their commitment to tackling global warming.  And they have also gone to the trouble of providing links to email individual companies, to let them know you're watching, and to tweet about the climate action or inaction of a specific company!







Here's a direct grab from the Climate Counts page:
Climate Counts use a 0-to-100 point scale and 22 criteria to determine if companies have:

  • MEASURED their climate "footprint"
  • REDUCED their impact on global warming
  • SUPPORTED (or suggest intent to block) progressive climate legislation
  • Publicly DISCLOSED their climate actions clearly and comprehensively
GreenOrder, a leading sustainability strategy firm, provided strategic guidance on the Climate Counts program, assisted in the development of the scoring system, and provided insights on the scoring implications.

Corporate climate leadership matters!

  • Let businesses know that climate does count. Want them to do better? Tell them. Excited about their leadership? Let them know that, too.
  • Of course, please support high-ranked companies when you shop and invest.
  • Tell your friends, colleagues, and family to join you in supporting companies that are taking responsibility for climate change.
Me again, to say heck yeah!  Check out who made your shoes - your microwave - your computer - your car - that plastic water bottle - and if you are appalled, reach out and tweet or email!  If you're NOT appalled, do the same thing!  It's only by constant consumer vigilance and feedback that we are ever going to get the attention of the companies who are belching carbon into the atmosphere with seeming impunity.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Scariest Arctic Changes

More from Mother Jones.  At least this time they aren't poking fun, as they did with the dreadful Mother Jones eco-doom-fake-headline generator.

The first link, to the scariest trends, features widespread melting of Greenland; new record low June snow cover; new record low area of summer sea ice;Arctic sea ice getting thinner younger;massive plankton blooms thriving 60+ miles under sea ice; and less ice increasing the likelihood of ocean acidification.
Click on through to read all about it.  If you dare!  (Duh duh DUHHHHHHHH!)  And no, it's not funny.

Migrate or flee?

How would you like to see a link on your local community website to THAT stark choice?  The people of Tuvalu saw such a posting go up on July 9, 2011.  Here it is.

And here's the terrifying picture they posted.

Tuvalu













When I was a kid I used to deliberately scare myself by imagining that I was stranded on a deserted island, a la Robinson Crusoe, and only when the tide rose did I realize that it was actually submerged most of the time!  Gave me delicious shivers, and not-so-delicious nightmares.  And it is actually happening to the people of Tuvalu!

Don't let it happen to the rest of us.  Act now.  Stand up.  Join - speak - donate - rally - do something!  Talk to a neighbor!  Call the President!  Now is the time, people.  Hair on fire.  We've got seven more years.  I probably have socks I haven't washed in seven years - it's NOT THAT FREAKING LONG.

Somehow this does not warm my heart.

Planet Earth Herald has a piece about how today's kids just want to "sort out" the problems with our planet -and they even mention climate change!

Too bad their ignorant, procrastinating, head-in-the-sand parents and grandparents are apparently consigning them to a grim hellscape of warming, melting, drying, frying, drowning, and being generally storm-tossed.  Because if projections are correct, and we've got about 7 years to "sort out" carbon emissions before we hit a tipping point, the lovely hopeful fired up 7-year-olds of today will only be 14-year-olds when we reach the point that, whatever they do, it won't make a difference.

Even the lovely hopeful tweens of today will be barely into their twenties.  And remember how effective YOU were at changing entrenched government and corporate interests when you were that age?  Uh-huh.  Me too.  If I'd been any damned good at it, we'd have world peace by now.

Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy


Slate.com has just done my job for me.


Slate.com reports here that geochemist and National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell has written a post about climate change denial and the scientific literature.

It's all summed up by this genius, slam-dunk, in-your-face pie chart, which slate.com has titled "The Thin Red Wedge."

Note: 24 articles in 22 years is 1.09 per year.

And 24 is .17204% of 13,950.  Yes, that is POINT 17204%.  Wow.

I need the t-shirt!

Farewell, Treebeard.

Yep.  We're killing the Ents.

I promise not to descend into the wispy realms of Tolkein, trippiness, and the trite, (at least not very often), but this piece on HuffPo slayed me.

Here's the full piece, in the December 7th issue of "Science."


Live Science dishes it up fierce.

Here's a good one from Live Science, where they have a vast collection of hair-igniting reportage.  Also strange trivia, like - did you know that your allergies might be getting worse because of climate change?

I wouldn't whip that one out during my next argument with a climate-change-denier - it does seem awfully trivial - but I can see myself talking about permafrost and disappearing lakes.  Oh, and ruins getting ruined-er.

Thanks, NOAA. I wasn't having bad enough dreams.

Arctic continues to break records in 2012: Becoming warmer, greener region with record losses of summer sea ice and late spring snow.

NOAA sez..

and I quote:



There is strong evidence that global sea level is now rising at an increased rate and will continue to rise during this century.

While studies show that sea levels changed little from AD 0 until 1900, sea levels began to climb in the 20th century.

The two major causes of global sea-level rise are thermal expansion caused by the warming of the oceans (since water expands as it warms) and the loss of land-based ice (such as glaciers and polar ice caps) due to increased melting.

This image is NOT from the (excellent! informative!) NOAA site, where I found the foregoing.

But it makes you think, eh?


Meanwhile, down the shore...

it turns out that unregulated development made things MIGHTILY worse when Hurricane Sandy hit.  So, not only are we contributing to climate change, which is contributing to massive, destructive storms - but we are doing ourselves no favors by not building even to the current (probably minimal, considering what is coming) standards.

Yes, that would make me sad, too.


WOW. Gobsmackingly stupid piece on Mother Jones today.

Seriously folks - a random "eco doom" headline generator?  How very droll.  Just what we DON'T need, methinks.

A Shakespearean insult generator?  That's funny.  And (usually) appropriate. And to quote it, the impertinent beef-witted pigeon-eggs over at MoJo certainly do not need to be laughing up their collective sleeve at the high hilarity of impending climate change.

I suppose it would be big of me to not take umbrage, and instead just be amused at "headlines" like "Is your baby dooming the Monarch butterfly?" (actually not that far-fetched, if your baby is a First World baby).  But I can't.  It isn't funny.  It's serious.  The end.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Yes, it is all connected.

In case you find it easy to forget, here's a sobering piece (again, thanks BBC Nature!) about how wildfires in the western US have been made worse by an invasive species of grass.  And back in June, Live Science reported on the link between "global warming" (here at HairOnFirePeople we call it "climate change") and the wildfires in Colorado this year.

So one bad influence - invasive species - makes another worse.  I guess that's a tad off topic, but it sure brought be up by the short hairs.


Guillemots aren't exactly "charismatic megafauna..."

but they're fighting for their lives, too.  BBC Nature has done a characteristically bang-up job of reportage, here.

And what's an Alaskan Black Guillemot when it's at home, anyway?  Turns out it's a lovely bird:


More in-depth analysis can be found here, from the Peregrine Fund.

It can be done!

Science Daily reports here that wind and solar power paired with storage could power the grid 99.9 % of the time! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rolling Stone: "Forecasting Denial"

Interesting piece in Rolling Stone right now - and yes, it's a little scary.

Turns out that a lot of weather people on the tee vee news are climate change deniers!
This guy isn't.  Check out wltx in Columbia, SC's Climate Matters page.

Mother Jones' Blue Marble Report

Here's a headline that should make your (already on fire) hair stand on end:  
Less Arctic Ice-->Less Sunlight Reflected Back-->Even Less Arctic Ice

You a little freaked out by that too?  Check out the piece here.  It's short but scary - with more in-depth reportage to come.  Key quotes:
 
"While there is no base-line left to study in the Arctic..."  WTF?  No base-line left?  That in itself speaks volumes about the damage we have already inflicted. 
 
And, "In some ways I feel that the scientific community simply can't respond quickly enough to sort all these issues out."  Farewell, charismatic megafauna.















We humans are fairly charismatic, too - at least, to ourselves.  How well do you think we'll fare when all the sea ice has melted?  Just wondering...