Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 33 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist for WeatherNation TV, a new, national 24/7 weather channel with studios in Denver and Minneapolis. Founder of Media Logic Group, Douglas and a team of meteorologists provide weather services for media at Broadcast Weather, and high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

110-115 Heat Index by Sunday (hottest air of summer 3-5 days away)

Posted by: Paul Douglas under On the road, Vikings, Bears Updated: July 14, 2011 - 10:51 AM

Winding Down. No need to water or irrigate anytime soon. NWS Doppler at 10:50 am shows a band of moderate shows over central and eastern Minnesota, drifting into Wisconsin. Nothing severe close to home, and showers should be tapering off around midday - we may salvage a couple hours of sun by mid afternoon/evening, but conditions will be ripe for a few severe storms over far western Minnesota late in the day.

77 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday - dew points in the low 50s. By Saturday there will be more than twice as much water in the air.

.71" rain predicted for the Twin Cities by midnight tonight. (1-3" amounts central Minnesota).

Flash Flood Watch cancelled for Minnesota - rainfall amounts not expected to reach flash flood criteria.

79 F. predicted dew point at 1 pm on Saturday in the MSP metro area.

110-115 F: predicted heat index in the metro Sunday and Monday.

6 days/row above 90? The all-time record in the Twin Cities is 14 days/row back in 1936.

 

500 daily high temperature records broken on Tuesday; 2 towns in Oklahoma experienced their hottest readings on record.

 

Dangerous Heat? The projected Heat Index on Sunday is forecast to be in the 105-115 range from central and southern Minnesota southward to the Gulf coast. The risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke will be significant across the central third of the USA, especially Sunday/Monday of next week.

 

"...Nearly half of the USA's population - 150 million people - were affected by the heat Tuesday, according to NOAA, as the National Weather Service posted heat advisories or heat warnings in parts of 23 states from Oklahoma to Connecticut."

 

"...A new report concludes that each ton of carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere inflicts as much as $900 in environmental harm - almost 45 times the amount the federal government uses when setting regulations. The gap, advocates say, disguises the true value of emissions reductions." - story below on the true cost of carbon emissions in The Daily Climate.

 

What Summer? While we track another major heatwave for the weekend, folks living up north must be scratching their heads, wondering why they can't pack away the jackets and sweatshirts (for good!) Check out the Wednesday morning lows up north, courtesy of the Duluth office of the National Weather Service:

HIBBING ARPT           :  37
ORR                    :  39
CRANE LAKE             :  39
BIGFORK                :  39
COOPERATIVE WEATHER OBSERVATION SITES
EMBARRASS..............:  37
ORR 3E.................:  38

 

Hot Weather Climatology. According to the local NWS office, the Dust Bowl year of 1936 holds the record for the most consecutive 90-degree days in the Twin Cities (14). As recently as 2005 and 2006 MSP experienced 9 days of 90+ heat. More details:

"With what is shaping up to be a prolonged heat wave across the area from Saturday through at least the first half of next week, it is a good time to take a look back to see when some of the previous prolonged heat waves occurred.  To measure a heat waves staying power, we looked back to see what the longest runs of consecutive days with highs above 90 were for St. Cloud and the Twin Cities (threaded climatology sites with continuous observations back to the 19th century).  The table below shows the 10 longest runs at each site.  The last time a run of at least 5 days in a row with highs of 90 or greater has not been seen at St. Cloud since July of 2006 (MSP had a run this long last in August of 2010)."

 

Gulley-Gushing Rains? The latest NAM/WRF model is printing out some very significant rainfall amounts for central Minnesota, as much as 3-4"+ near Alexandria and Morris, with over 2.5" for St. Cloud and closer to 1 to 1.5" for the Twin Cities metro by Friday night. That's why the NWS has issued a Flash Flood Watch from late tonight into Thursday.

 

Flash Flood Guidance. NOAA's North Central River Forecast Center computes that 3.6 to 4" of rain falling over a 3 hour period would be enough to initiate flash flooding. But only 2-3" rain would be required over many counties in southwestern Minnesota to meet flash flood criteria.

 

Risk of a "Heat Storm". When I refer to the term "heat storm" I'm talking about a sudden spike in temperature (and dew point), unlike a typical heatwave that builds gradually over the span of a few days. Under a hot sun, with dew points predicted to be in the 75-80 F. range, Sunday's projected heat index is forecast to be in the 105 - 115 range from southern Minnesota southward to Des Moines, Little Rock and Louisiana. Data courtesy of NOAA NCEP.

 

Thundery Thursday. SPC has a slight risk of severe storms from Montana and the Dakotas eastward to western Minnesota, along the northern edge of a massive heatwave (expanding northward in the coming days).

 

Thursday Rainfall Potential. The WRF/NAM forecast (10 am today) shows a line of showers and T-storms from Minnesota southward to Omaha, more storms along the Gulf Coast and a few lighter showers over the Pacific Northwest - another rainy day for Seattle and Tacoma. Canadian high pressure will keep the Great Lakes comfortable, cooler air filtering into New England.

 

Thursday Heat Index. Today will be the 14th day/row of 100-degree heat for Oklahoma City and Dallas. Factor in a dew point in the 70s and it will feel like 105-115 from Wichita and Little Rock to Memphs and Macon, Georgia. Roughly half of America is sweltering through the worst heatwave in years.

 

Tips For Beating The Heat. NOAA has some good information about steps you can take (this weekend) to reduce the risk of heat-related ailments: "If you plan on being out and about in summer, chances are you’ll be exposed to a lot of sun and higher temperaturesEach year, heat kills 1,500 people on average in the United States — more than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, lightning, or any other weather event combined. “Heat can be a silent killer because it doesn’t topple trees or rip roofs off houses like tornadoes and hurricanes,” says Eli Jacks, chief of fire and public weather services with NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Nevertheless, it’s a dangerous weather condition for which people should prepare.”

How much heat can a person safely endure? It depends.

Certain groups of people should be especially careful during hot weather conditions. For example, city-dwellers and those living in the upper floors of tall buildings or in heat-prone regions are most at-risk for heat-related illness. People who have difficulty getting around or who have health conditions are particularly susceptible. The elderly and the very young also merit special attention during periods of high heat and humidity. This year, National Weather Service teamed up with Occupational Safety and Health Administration to increase awareness for outdoor workers and their employers during excessive heat events.  As part of this partnership, National Weather Service will incorporate specific outdoor worker safety precautions when heat advisories and warnings are issued this summer."

 

 

 

Nearly 500 Records Tuesday. 499 to be exact, accordingto NOAA. The red dots are record highs, the yellow dots are record warm nighttime lows, the green dots are record 24 hour rainfall reports. A few record lows (in blue) out west, but the heat has been pervasive from the Southern Plains into New England in recent days. Map courtesy of Ham Weather.

 

Hot Weather: Steps You Can Take To Keep Your Cool. More useful information, courtesy of NOAA:

  • DO - Slow down, and reduce strenuous activity. Mow the lawn or garden in the early morning or late evening instead of midday.
  • DO - Dress in lightweight, nonrestrictive, light-colored clothing.
  • DO - Drink plenty of water or other nonalcoholic fluids.
  • DO - Eat light, easy-to-digest foods.
  • DO - Seek out shade if you have to be outdoors for extended periods. Spend more time in air-conditioned places.
  • DO - Check on elderly neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure they are okay.
  • DO - When outside, take frequent dips in the ocean or pool, or mist yourself with a water bottle. When inside, take frequent cool baths or showers and use cold compresses to cool off.
  • DO - Apply high-SPF sunscreen frequently when outdoors.
  • DO - Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of heat illness. (See chart below for symptoms, likely conditions and treatment.)

However, please remember:

  • DO NOT leave children, the elderly, or pets in the car for any reason, for any length of time. A dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180 to more than 200 degrees F!
  • DO NOT stay in the sun for long periods.
  • DO NOT take salt tablets unless directed by a physician.
  • AVOID alcoholic beverages; they can dehydrate you and increase your risk of heat stroke and other potentially fatal heat-related illnesses

 

Reality Check. During an average year heat claims more American lives than hurricanes, tornadoes and floods combined, according to NOAA.

  • Blistering mid-summer heat seared much of the southern, central and eastern USA on Tuesday, as temperatures soared above 100 degrees in cities from Kansas to South Carolina.
  • Nearly half of the USA's population — 150 million people — were affected by the heat Tuesday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as the National Weather Service posted heat advisories or heat warnings in parts of 23 states from Oklahoma to Connecticut.
  • Oklahoma City suffered through 13 straight days of 100-degree or above heat before ending the streak on Tuesday. (Tuesday's high was "only" 97.) Dallas has had 100-degree temperatures for 11 days in a row, including Tuesday.
  • Although a brief break in the heat is forecast for parts of the Great Lakes, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic over the next few days, there will be no relief across the scorched Plains or Deep South.
  • Almost the entire country east of the Rockies is forecast to see above-average temperatures throughout next week.

 

  • The heat and drought have led to record wildfire activity. The year-to-date acreage burned nationally so far is at 5.8 million acres — the most on record for the period — and almost twice the decadal average, says the National Interagency Fire Center.
  • 67-year-old Ed Green of Philadelphia, PA died after being rushed to the hospital on Tuesday afternoon and medics believe he was a victim of the extreme heat.
  • Officials are still trying to piece together what happened to a 4-year-old girl who was found dead in her family’s SUV Monday night in Cleburne, Texas.
  • Lilly Parson’s parents said she had been playing outside and then disappeared. After a brief search, they called 911 for help.
  • Deputies who responded to the call found the girl’s body lying on the back seat of her family’s vehicle, which was parked in the driveway.
  • Investigators suspect the triple-digit heat played a role and they are treating the case as an accident.
  • Officials are still questioning the girl’s parents. They reportedly have been cooperative but there inconsistencies in the accounts of how long she had been missing, the sheriff’s department said.
  • A heat wave that has pushed temperatures well over 100 degrees has killed tens of thousands of turkeys.
  • In North Carolina, about 50,000 chickens died at a farm after the power went off for 45 minutes. In Kansas, one couple lost 4,300 turkeys that took 26 hours to bury.

 

U.S. Nuclear Plant Lifts Alert As Floods Recede. A bit of good news, brought to you by the AP and USA Today: "BROWNVILLE, Nebraska (AP) — An alert issued at a southeast Nebraska nuclear power plant as rising floodwaters from the bloated Missouri River threatened its perimeter has been terminated. The Nebraska Public Power District said Tuesday it officially ended the notice of unusual event at the Cooper Power Plant that began June 19. The utility issued the alert when the river rose 899 feet above sea level. The Missouri River had fallen to 895.5 feet above sea level by Wednesday morning. The utility says it appears that the level of the river will continue to slowly decline as long as no major rain storms develop."

 

Typhoon Threatens Japan. More details on Typhoon Ma-On:

  • Typhoon Ma-On forecast to reach super typhoon status early next week, make landfall in southern Japan shortly afterward
    • currently affecting Guam and surrounding islands (Northern Mariana Islands)
  • storms like this can unload 10-20 inches of rain
    • danger for mudslides and flooding upon reaching Japan
  • winds currently compare to a category 1 hurricane
    • forecast to reach category 4 or 5 strength (roughly 115 mph) by Monday or Tuesday

 

July 11 Derecho: 1,000 Miles In One Day. The Des Moines office of the NWS has a great write-up on the July 11 derecho that produced estimated (straight-line) wind gusts as high as 130 mph in Garrison, Iowa, before going on to batter Chicago and much of the Ohio Valley:

"On the morning of July 11, 2011, a powerful long-lasting straight-line windstorm, known as a derecho, developed over central Iowa and carved a path of extensive damage across east central Iowa. The storm first took shape as a cluster of low end severe storms over southern Nebraska during the late afternoon of July 10. The system continued northeastward and entered western Iowa at 1:00am, still only as a marginal line of severe storms. As the system passed through the northern Des Moines metro area at 3:30am, it rapidly intensified and accelerated eastward. Over the next hour and a half the storm plowed eastward through Story, Marshall, and Tama Counties, blasting the area with winds of up to 105 mph, the equivalent of an EF1 tornado. The storm continued to track eastward, plowing through eastern Iowa and the southern Great Lakes region before dissipating in West Virginia in the mid-afternoon. Thousands of trees were downed in eastern Iowa alone and numerous structures were damaged or destroyed."

 

On The Road To Storm Recovery. An update on clean-up and recovery efforts in North Minneapolis after last month's tornado, reported by the Star Tribune: "Local leaders have begun to map out a recovery effort for north Minneapolis that envisions reconstructing neighborhoods and helping families get back on their feet. Seven weeks after a tornado ravaged the North Side, a clearer picture is emerging of the extent of the devastation and the leadership and resources that have been hastily developed to deal with it. As of June 24, 3,623 properties were reported to have sustained some damage from the storm, and of those, 204 had major damage, meaning it would cost more than $20,000 to fix them, if they can be repaired at all. At least 820 building permits have been issued to repair damage, and a disaster loan outreach center opened Tuesday at Lucy Laney School, 3333 Penn Av. N. It will stay open for a week, offering low-interest recovery loans to homeowners and renters through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Earlier this month, the City Council voted to bolster North Side neighborhood organizations with an additional $600,000."

 


Waffle House, Home Depot Cited As Examples Of Emergency Preparedness. The Atlanta Journal Constitution has the story: "In the wake of an emergency -- hurricane, ice storm, maybe the odd zombie attack -- you could stay indoors. Or you could head to the nearest Waffle House, or perhaps a Home Depot. Norcross-based Waffle House is earning kudos from academia and the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a role model for disaster preparedness. It's a product of many years of doing business in Florida's Panhandle and other hurricane alleys. "Disaster management and risk management in global supply chains can actually be a competitive advantage," said Panos Kouvelis, a professor of operations and manufacturing management at Washington University in St. Louis. "You have to think of it as an opportunity to get ahead of the game by being better prepared." Kouvelis, who made the remarks to EHS Today, a magazine covering the environment, health and safety, said Lowe's, Wal-Mart Stores and Atlanta-based Home Depot also set the standard in preparing for emergencies. It's not easy, he said. "On the one hand, your own supply chain is exposed," he said. "At the same time, your stores are supposed to be the first to react and provide the basic supplies. Your supply goes down while your demand goes up." Home Depot has an extensive disaster response team to handle hurricanes, fires, floods, tornadoes and blizzards. The team includes information technology, merchandising, human resources, security and supply chain executives. The company receives early alerts on bad weather via email. In an emergency situation, the team assembles in a command center at headquarters. In the event of a hurricane, the goal is to be the last outlet to close and the first to open."

 

Time-Lapse Of The New Metrodome Roof Inflating. It worked! We have lift-off, and a new/improved home for the Minnesota Vikings, assuming there is NFL football this fall. Check out this YouTube clip, courtesy of KSTP-TV: "Seven months after the old one fell in, the Metrodome's new roof was inflated on Wednesday morning. 5 Eyewitness News was there and has time-lapse video of the process from inside and above."

 

Who Caused The Crisis, And Why Is The Recovery Taking Forever? The short answer: too much debt. Nothing new there, but I thought this story at Huffington Post was somewhat illuminating: "What is constraining consumer demand and preventing an economic recovery and thus causing unemployment to remain at high levels? Consumers have too much debt. What is depressing the housing market in which approximately one third of homes in the US are worth less than the mortgage balance leading to increased foreclosures? Homeowners have too much debt. What is the biggest problem with the global financial system? Banks have too much debt. What is one big thing wrong with our federal government? It has too much debt. What is wrong with our local and state governments? They have too much debt. What is wrong with the governments of Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Japan, Iceland, Belgium, Singapore, France, the United Kingdom, Egypt, India, Hungary and Germany? They all have too much debt. What are we doing to our young people who graduate college with enormous amounts of student loans and huge government liabilities facing them? They have too much debt. When I say a person or a bank or a city or a country has too much debt I mean literally they have so much debt that it is unlikely they will be able to pay it all back from their expected future cash flows. The sixty trillion dollar question, which is just about equal to the total debt in the world, is how did we get into this mess and whose fault is it."

 

Good-Looking Wednesday. With dew points in the low 50s it felt pretty amazing out there - wish it could last. The sun was out through mid afternoon before clouds started to increase, forerunners of a warm front that will leave us sweating (and complaining) by Friday and Saturday. Highs ranged from a cool 65 at Duluth to 75 at St. Cloud, 77 in the Twin Cities.

 

 

Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:

 

TODAY: Mostly cloudy - showers taper around midday. Some sun possible after 2 pm or so. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 75

 

THURSDAY NIGHT: Still very humid, scattered T-storms, more downpours possible. Low: 70

 

FRIDAY: Muggy & hot with intervals of sun, few T-storms likely. High: 89

 

SATURDAY: Hot sun, stray storm possible. Dew point: 75. Winds: S 10-20. Low: 76. High: 94

 

SUNDAY: Sunny and oppressive. Dew point: 78. Heat index: 110. Winds: S 10-20. Low: 78. High: 96

 

MONDAY: Still sunny, even hotter. Low: 79. High: 97

 

TUESDAY: Sauna-like, no relief yet. Lot's of sunshine. Low: 78. High: 96

 

WEDNESDAY: Having fun yet? Steamy, still hot. Low: 75. High: 93

 

 

Crazy Extremes

It has been a baffling year for Minnesota meteorologists: 86.6" snow, a reluctant spring, and a summer characterized by wild extremes. Wednesday morning residents of Hibbing woke up to 37. They're still wearing jackets & sweatshirts up north! If the weather models are right (and I suspect they are) by Sunday afternoon it will feel like 110-115 over southern Minnesota. I expect the NWS to issue Excessive Heat Warnings; the risk of heat exhaustion & heat stroke will be significant.

Welcome to the costliest year on record for natural disasters. According to Munich Re losses hit $235 billion in the first 6 months of 2011, worldwide. That exceeds the previous global record of $220 billion in 2005.

The arrival of super-heated air will leave the atmosphere irritable & unstable, T-storms capable of downpours right into Saturday. The NWS has cancelled the Flash Flood Watch, but some 1-3" rainfall amounts are still possible over central Minnesota by Saturday. By Sunday the atmosphere overhead should be "capped", too much hot, dry air aloft for T-storms. Expect 6 days/row above 90, starting Saturday. With a dew point near 80 Sunday's heat index should be up in the oh-zone. Still time to evacuate to your favorite lake!

 

The Arid Southwest's 10 Great Climate Deniers. I'm quite sure they wear this distinction as a badge of honor, but I suspect every one of these politicians will have some answering (and back-peddling) to do in the coming years. Every single climate model shows more frequent/intense drought and heatwaves for the southwest, more wildfires and water shortages. At some point there will be a Day of Reckoning. The full story at salon.com: "Much of the southern U.S. is currently suffering through one of the most severe dry spells of the past century. It's impossible to say with certainty that this particular drought -- caused by a lingering La Niña event in the Pacific -- is a direct result of global warming. But, as we noted yesterday, scientific consensus is overwhelming that shifting weather patterns drastically increase the probability of devastating droughts from Texas on west. Yet, in spite of this, many GOP politicians from some of the worst afflicted Southwestern states maintain that man-made global warming is an elaborate hoax. We've compiled a list of 10 such prominent climate change deniers and compare their statements against their constituents' current climate woes.

Texas

1. What Gov. Rick Perry believes: In his 2010 manifesto, "Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America From Washington," Perry called man-made climate change "all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight." Then, in April, he issued a proclamation asking Texans to literally pray for an end to the drought, notes Rolling Stone.

2. What Rep. Ted Poe believes: In a 2009 statement on the floor of the House, Poe pointed to that year's Climategate controversy as reason to doubt climate science. (Note: An independent panel has since exonerated the scientists involved in the "scandal.") He also pointed to scientists who, in 1974, argued that Earth might be cooling, as evidence that scientists have no earthly idea what they are talking about, now or then. "We are going to try to trust the world's climate predictions to a group of people from the 1970s and now, 2000, to a group of people who can't even predict correctly tomorrow's weather," he said."

 

Global Warming: A Guide For The Perplexed. NPR has the story: "Since there has been a lot of debate here at 13.7 (and everywhere) about global warming, and what is or isn't factual or good science, I thought it would be a good idea to bring out some of the basic science behind what we know and what we don't know about this important issue. Of course, this is not intended as an official document or as a thorough analysis, but as a primer for those who are interested in facts.

  1. The Earth is a finite system, which receives most of its energy from the Sun. A small amount of heating also comes from radioactive decay and release from the interior.
  2. The Sun emits radiation mostly in the visible spectrum, peaking at about 500 nm, closely corresponding to yellow light. Some of the radiation is reflected back into space, and some is absorbed and then reemitted back into space as lower-energy infrared radiation. Warming occurs when a larger fraction of the absorbed radiation is trapped near the surface. Think of your car, parked under the sun. With windows closed it gets much hotter inside.
  3. The trapping of heat is caused mainly by what are called greenhouse gases: water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone are the main ones. Without these gases in the atmosphere, the average temperature would be approximately 59 ºF lower.
  4. During the past 100 years, the average global temperature has increased by 1 degree Fahrenheit. Global sea levels have risen 4 to 8 inches.
  5. These numbers are not disputed. What is disputed is the cause behind the increase: natural vs. anthropogenic (i.e., caused by human activity)."

 

Climate Change Hits The Mightiest Of The Great Lakes. WBEZ Radio has the story about changes taking place on Lake Superior: "Climate change isn’t just hitting polar bears and melting glaciers. Scientists and advocates say it’s affecting the Great Lakes too, even Lake Superior, the lake that’s so big, all the other Great Lakes could fit inside with room to spare. Climate change already is playing out in warmer temperatures and melting ice, and scientists expect more dramatic changes. That could alter the way of life, even on the greatest of the Great Lakes. In Lake Superior, there’s a thin stretch of green surrounded by water called Madeline Island. For most of the year, you can only get here by kayak or ferry. But when the weather gets cold enough, you can drive on frozen Lake Superior. "It’s the main road to freedom, it’s transportation at a very most base level," says Lois Carlson, who heads the Madeleine Island Chamber of Commerce. But the Ice Road is not without its perils, says her co-worker, Suellen Soucek. "When you’re going across the Ice Road, you don’t wear your seatbelt and you make sure your windows are rolled down," Soucek says. "Why's that?" "So if you go in drink, you can get out quickly. I’m always glad to get off and on the other side." But the ice road isn’t lasting as long these days. This past winter, Carlson says, it had just opened when there was a thaw and then heavy winds."

 

Climate Change And Confirmation Bias. A thought-provoking post from Reason Magazine. No amount of science will convince some people, it would seem: "The more scientifically literate you are, the more certain you are that climate change is either a catastrophe or a hoax, according to a new study [PDF] from the Yale Cultural Cognition Project.  Many science writers and policy wonks nurse the fond hope that fierce disagreement about issues like climate change is simply the result of a scientifically illiterate American public. If this “public irrationality thesis” were correct, the authors of the Yale study write, “then skepticism about climate change could be traced to poor public comprehension about science” and the solution would be more science education. In fact, their findings suggest more education is unlikely to help build consensus; it may even intensify the debate. Led by Yale University law professor Dan Kahan, the Cultural Cognition Project has been researching how cultural and ideological commitments shape science policy discourse in the United States. To probe the public’s views on climate change, the Yale researchers conducted a survey of 1,500 Americans in which they asked questions designed to uncover their cultural values, their level of scientific literacy, and what they thought about the risks of climate change. The group uses a theory of cultural commitments devised by University of California, Berkeley, political scientist Aaron Wildavsky that “holds that individuals can be expected to form perceptions of risk that reflect and reinforce values that they share with others.”

 

Global Warming: Nature Can't Save Us From Ourselves. The full story is at Huffington Post: "The notion that nature itself will act as a check on the atmospheric excesses of humanity has long held a fair amount of appeal, not least because it draws on a nugget of high-school science that most people can quickly comprehend. Plants inhale carbon dioxide, after all -- they need it to grow. Add more CO2 to the air, as human civilization has been doing in copious amounts since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and the result will surely be thicker, more expansive biomass. More trees, plants and crops, the thinking goes, means that more and more carbon dioxide will be naturally absorbed from the atmosphere, and ... voila! The climate problem is elegantly solved! It's a conviction readily embraced by climate skeptics, and one enthusiastically peddled in some scientific cul-de-sacs like the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a pet project of Sherwood B. Idso, a former research physicist with the Department of Agriculture, and his two sons, Craig and Keith. From the center's Web site: "For years environmentalists have warned us about how fragile earth's biosphere is; and in many cases dealing with specific species or ecosystems, they have been correct. In its totality, however, the biosphere is much more resilient than most people give it credit for being. As atmospheric CO2 -- the lifeblood of the planet -- has gradually risen over the course of the Industrial Revolution, for example, the biosphere has begun to reveal its true strength, with the plants of the planet growing ever more robustly and profusely, as they expand their ranges over the face of the earth and extract ever greater quantities of CO2 from the air and sequester its carbon in their tissues and the soil into which they sink their roots."

 

Economists Find Flaws In Federal Estimate Of Climate Damage. The Daily Climate has the story: "A new report concludes that each ton of carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere inflicts as much as $900 in environmental harm - almost 45 times the amount the federal government uses when setting regulations. The gap, advocates say, disguises the true value of emissions reductions. Uncle Sam's estimate of the damage caused by each ton of carbon dioxide is fundamentally flawed and "grossly understates" the potential impacts of climate change, according to an analysis released Tuesday by a group of economists. The government's figures "could lead to a degree of inaction on climate change that frankly is not supported by either the economics or the science at this point." The study found the true cost of those emissions to be far beyond the $21 per ton derived by the federal government. The figure, commonly known as the "social cost of carbon," is used by federal agencies when weighing the costs and benefits of emissions-cutting regulations, such as air conditioner efficiency standards and greenhouse gas emissions limits for light trucks. A truer value, according to the Economics for Equity and the Environment Network, an organization of economists who advocate for environmental protection, could be as high as $900 per ton - equivalent to adding $9 to each gallon of gas. Viewed another way, with the United States emitting the equivalent of close to 6 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, the higher figure suggests that avoiding those emissions could save the nation $5.3 trillion annually, one-third of the nation's economic output. A second, separate report released Tuesday buttressed the argument, finding that the government routinely underestimates the benefits of avoiding climate change when conducting cost-benefit analysis on regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This second report, published jointly by the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank, and the Environmental Law Institute, found that government models on climate impacts often contain "dramatic simplifications and assumptions" - such as when calculating the social cost of carbon - that underplay the benefits society gains by curbing emissions. Together, the two reports suggest policy makers are looking at a distorted picture as they assess the economic impacts of climate regulations. "

 

Ethical Responsibility And Climate Change: We're All In The Same Boat. Is climate change a "moral issue"? Some thoughts from Rabbi Lawrence Troster at Huffington Post: "For more than 20 years I've been an educator and an activist in the religious environment movement -- both Jewish and interfaith. In a typical Q&A after a presentation, I'm often asked why I am motivated as a rabbi to speak out on the environment. I've reflected on this question for many years and have been able to trace my path to religious environmentalism to my earliest spiritual encounters in the natural world and through my theological and intellectual development that began while I was in rabbinical school. But the most important influence on my decision to become part of this movement comes from the fact that I'm a parent. I learned about climate change from the scientists, and as the parent of two little girls (twins, now 32 years old), I worried about the world that they and their children would live in. I assumed I would not live to see the most severe consequences of climate change, but they would. Now, they have both grown up, and I have grandchildren. Now, I'm even more concerned. I grew up in a middle class suburb of Toronto. My family never lacked for food, clothing and other necessities. My parents sent me to summer camp in Northern Ontario, where I was able to spiritually encounter Creation on many canoe trips. I never thought that my descendants might not enjoy the same kind of life that I had. Now I do, and the immediate concern with my children and grandchildren's future has brought home to me the moral issue of climate change into a more immediate way. Climate change is moral issue. We must say this loudly and continually. I believe, as do many others in the religious environment movement, that this declaration has been missing in the debates over climate change policy. We have heard about economics and ecosystems and threats to our lifestyle, but not whether it is immoral for a society to prosper without concern about how their actions are negatively impacting the lives of others."

 

 

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