"God saw all that he had made and it was very good" says Genesis 1:31. The Bible tells us we were created in God's image. He gave us big, beautiful brains, the ability to reason, solve problems and improve our lives. And the good sense not to foul our nest.
Mercifully Quiet Weekend. Severe storms rumble across the Mid South today; otherwise much of America enjoys a relatively quiet day. Rain spreads into the Mid Atlantic with a few embedded T-storms. Sunshine lingers from the southwestern USA into the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes; another big, sloppy storm delivers a wet kiss to the Pacific Northwest Sunday night and Monday. NAM guidance: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.
Heat Waves Kill. From 2000 to 2010 at least 35 deaths were directly attributable to extreme heat in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety explains the different criteria involved in setting expectations for heat-related problems: "The National Weather Service issues the following heat-related products as conditions warrant:
Excessive Heat Outlooks:: are issued when the potential exists for an excessive heat event in the next 3-7 days. An Outlook provides information to those who need considerable lead time to prepare for the event, such as public utility staff, emergency managers and public health officials.
Record Tornado Damage Shows Rising Cost of Climate for Travelers. I thought this story at Bloomberg focused on an already-busy and destructive year for tornadoes in the USA was interesting: "Travelers Cos. was burned again by Mother Nature. Alan Schnitzer has been contending with volatile weather since becoming chief executive officer in late 2015, extending a trend of recent years in which storm seasons last longer than usual and strike regions that previously weren’t considered vulnerable. There were more than 400 tornadoes in the first quarter in the U.S., quadruple the three-year average, according to National Weather Service data. The causes for the rising costs are in dispute. Some blame climate change. Increased development along coastlines or near forests have added to risks from hurricanes and wildfires. Whatever the reason, the industry is seeking to raises prices as companies from American International Group Inc. to XL Group Ltd. encounter unusually high costs..."
Realtors Sound Alarm Over Expiring Flood Insurance Program. Consumer Affairs has the story; here are a couple of excerpts that got my attention: "...The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by FEMA, is supposed to make flood insurance more affordable for homeowners, but the program is scheduled to expire at the end of September. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) worries that there will be nothing to replace it..."Policyholders in over 22,000 communities across the country depend on the NFIP to protect homes and businesses from torrential rain, swollen rivers and lakes, snowmelt, failing infrastructure, as well as storm surges and hurricanes," he said. "When that lifeline is cut off, the NFIP can't issue new policies or renew existing residential or commercial policies that expire. That means current home and business owners may find their most important asset unprotected..."
What Would a Mile-Wide Asteroid Do To Earth? Angela Fritz speculates on something we hope we never have to report at Capital Weather Gang: "...Let us, for a moment, consider a scenario in which a 0.8-mile-wide asteroid strikes Earth. First, the magic number for total apocalypse is 60 miles. That’s how big an asteroid would need to be to wipe out human life. This asteroid is far from that number, but if it hits, let’s say, Washington, D.C., it’s large enough to destroy everything and everyone from New York City to Raleigh, N.C. (I apologize to the people of Raleigh for dragging you into Washington’s apocalypse.) The thermal radiation radius would be much larger. At six miles wide, even the asteroid that led to dinosaur extinction was much smaller than the Earth-obliterating scenario. It leveled everything within a couple thousand miles and tossed giant debris into near-space, which then fell back into the atmosphere as giant fireballs..."
The Pristine Arctic Has Become a Garbage Trap for 300 Billion Pieces of Plastic. The Washington Post reports: "Drifts of floating plastic that humans have dumped into the world’s oceans are flowing into the pristine waters of the Arctic as a result of a powerful system of currents that deposits waste in the icy seas east of Greenland and north of Scandinavia. In 2013, as part of a seven-month circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean, scientists aboard the research vessel Tara documented a profusion of tiny pieces of plastic in the Greenland and Barents seas, where the final limb of the Gulf Stream system delivers Atlantic waters northward. The researchers dub this region the “dead end for floating plastics” after their long surf of the world’s oceans. The researchers say this is just the beginning of the plastic migration to Arctic waters..."
Map credit: "
net zero energy schools underway in 2016 were in the South — despite low power rates and few policy incentives. Ground zero for net zero schools is, of all places, coal-rich Kentucky, where then-Gov. Steve Beshear tapped federal stimulus money to offer incentives for schools to become more energy efficient. In South Carolina, there’s a county system planning five net zero facilities. A North Carolina district has committed to building only net zero from now on..."A Virginia school’s recognition last month for its net zero energy status is part of a growing trend in the Southeast. According to the New Buildings Institute, four of the five states with the most
Photo credit: "Solar panels help provide a hands-on learning experience for students at Discover Elementary." Photo by VMDO Architects - Lincoln Barbour.
The Surprising List of States Leading U.S. on Renewable Energy. Turns out there are no red states or blue states with clean renewables, only green states. Here's a clip from InsideClimate News: "...Kansas led the nation in largest increase in renewable energy generation between 2011-15. Hawaii ranked No. 1 in residential solar power. In California, electric vehicles made up the highest percentage of new car sales last year. And in Iowa, in-state companies could most easily procure renewable energy from utilities and third-party providers in 2016 than anywhere else. There's a misconception that clean energy "is something only a few states are doing," Scott Clausen, a policy expert at the American Council on Renewable Energy who was not involved in this report told InsideClimate News. "It's really not. It's becoming much more widespread..." (Image credit: Greentech Media).
Industry Report: Midwest and Great Plains Lead Wind Energy Expansion. Midwest Energy News has the story: "Wind power represents more than 80 percent of the new electricity generating capacity built in the Midwest and Great Plains states over the past five years as the industry continues to grow, according to a report released today. The American Wind Energy Association’s annual 2016 report notes that two states in the region generate more than 30 percent of their electricity needs from wind – Iowa (35 percent) and South Dakota (30 percent). North Dakota, Oklahoma and Kansas produce more than 20 percent of their electricity demand from wind. Not surprising, the Midwest/Great Plains nexus – combined with Texas — captured 89 percent of all investment in wind last year..." (Image credit: Star Tribune).
Gigantic Wind Turbines Signal Era of Subsidy-Free Green Power. Here's a clip from Bloomberg: "Offshore wind turbines are about to become higher than the Eiffel Tower, allowing the industry to supply subsidy-free clean power to the grid on a massive scale for the first time. Manufacturers led by Siemens AG are working to almost double the capacity of the current range of turbines, which already have wing spans that surpass those of the largest jumbo jets. The expectation those machines will be on the market by 2025 was at the heart of contracts won by German and Danish developers last week to supply electricity from offshore wind farms at market prices by 2025. Just three years ago, offshore wind was a fringe technology more expensive than nuclear reactors and sometimes twice the cost of turbines planted on land. The fact that developers such as Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG and Dong Energy A/S are offering to plant giant turbines in stormy seas without government support show the economics of the energy business are shifting quicker than anyone thought possible -- and adding competitive pressure on the dominant power generation fuels coal and natural gas..."
To Build a More Resilient Electric Grid, Many Believe The Answer Is Going Small. Bostonomix at WBUR.org reports: "Today, nearly half a million miles of high-voltage transmission lines crisscross the country, but the people planning the future of America's electric grid are thinking small. They say we should build microgrids — small, local systems that could connect and disconnect. Advocates say the microgrid transformation of our electric infrastructure would make it more resilient to cyberattacks, the effects of nuclear weapons and climate change, and better able to handle electricity generated by renewable resources, such as wind and solar..."
Image credit: North American Energy Advisory.
Netflix and Internet Video Pals Are Winning Big From Cord-Cutting. Interesting details via Fortune: "...At the same time, the number of households that have cut the cord, or never subscribed in the first place–so called cord nevers–is growing.Last year, 2.1 million households dropped pay TV service, up from 1.2 million in 2015, Convergence said. By the end of the year, 27 million households, or about 22% of the country, did not pay for cable or satellite TV service, up from 24 million, or 20% of households, in 2015. And the total should reach 30 million, or 25% of all households, by the end of 2017, Convergence said..."
Saturday Book Signing. I'm looking forward to my vist at the Ridgehaven Barnes and Noble in Minnetonka today, Saturday, April 22, from 1-3 pm. Stop by and say hi, even if you have zero interest in my latest book, "Caring for Creation: The Evangelical's Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment." Details here.
“God evidently does not intend us all to be rich, or powerful, or great, but He does intend us all to be friends.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
63 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.
61 F. average high on April 21.
66 F. high on April 21, 2016.
April 22, 1874: Unseasonably cold air moves into Minnesota. The low is 23 degrees at the Twin Cities.
5.4" snow fell on the Twin Cities on April 22, 1963.
TODAY: Sunny, nearly perfect. Winds: W 5-10. High: 68
SATURDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 46
SUNDAY: Partly sunny and mild, stray shower northern MN. Winds: S 7-12. High: near 70
MONDAY: Heavier showers, few T-storms - windy. Winds: S 15-25. Wake-up: 50. High: 64
TUESDAY: More clouds than sun, drying out. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 46. High: 58
WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, probably dry. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 39. High: 54
THURSDAY: Clouding up, rain at night. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 38. High: 55
FRIDAY: Potential for heavier, steadier rain. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 42. High: near 50
We Just Breached the 410 Parts Per Million Threshold. Climate Central has details: "The world just passed another round-numbered climate milestone. Scientists predicted it would happen this year and lo and behold, it has. On Tuesday, the Mauna Loa Observatory recorded its first-ever carbon dioxide reading in excess of 410 parts per million (it was 410.28 ppm in case you want the full deal). Carbon dioxide hasn’t reached that height in millions of years. It’s a new atmosphere that humanity will have to contend with, one that’s trapping more heat and causing the climate to change at a quickening rate..."
Why Scientists Are Marching on Washington and More Than 400 Other Cities. Here's an explainer at The Washington Post: "The March for Science is not a partisan event. But it's political. That's the recurring message of the organizers, who insist that this is a line the scientific community and its supporters will be able to walk. It may prove too delicate a distinction, though, when people show up in droves on Saturday with their signs and their passions. “We’ve been asked not to make personal attacks or partisan attacks,” said honorary national co-chair Lydia Villa-Komaroff, in a teleconference this week with reporters. But Villa-Komaroff, who will be among those given two-minute speaking slots, quickly added: “This is a group of people who don’t take well being told what to do...”
Minnesota March for Science. Here are details on Saturday's march and rally at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul: "The Start Point of the March for Science Minnesota will be Cathedral Hill Park in St. Paul. The march will begin at 11:00 AM on Earth Day, April 22. Participants will march from the Start Point to the Minnesota State Capitol, where the Rally will start at 12 PM. Please plan to arrive at the Start Point 30 to 45 minutes in advance to account for the increased traffic and public transportation congestion which may be caused by this event..."
Survey Shows Americans Care About Climate Change, But There's One Big Catch. Here's a clip from an article at GOOD: "Earth Day is Saturday, and you know what that means: time to feel guilty about another year of not saving the planet. As one environmental organization aims to point out, you’re not alone. According to a new poll conducted by Ipsos and commissioned by Cool Effect, 75 percent of those surveyed think they have the power to combat climate change as individuals. Of the more than 1,400 people surveyed, however, only 40 percent have actually donated to organizations fighting global warming..."
Photo credit: @rmalo5aapi via Twenty20.
A Cooler Future May Hinge on Removing CO2 From the Air. Will there be new technologies and inventions that scrub the atmosphere of CO2, working like trees to convert CO2 into oxygen and water? Count on it. Here's an excerpt at Climate Central: "Climate pollution equal to about 27 times humans’ 2015 carbon dioxide emissions may have to be removed from the atmosphere and locked underground forever in order to keep the globe from warming beyond 1.5°C (2.7°F) above preindustrial levels, according to a new study. The research, led by scientists at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, or IIASA, in Austria, adds to the mounting evidence that countries will have to physically remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to prevent global warming from exceeding dangerous levels..."
Photo credit: "An oil refinery in Deer Park, Texas." Credit: Roy Luck/flickr
Militants Exploit Growing Competition for Water, Land - Study. You don't think there's a climate-component to mass migrations and civil wars around the planet? Think again. Here's an excerpt from Reuters: "Climate change threatens to increase instability around the world as jihadist groups such as Islamic State and Boko Haram exploit a scarcity of water, food and land to control populations and boost recruitment, a Berlin-based thinktank said on Thursday. Countries already experiencing unrest or negative effects of climate change were most at risk but seemingly stable regions could also be affected by a combination of climate change, rapid urbanisation and increasing inequality, Adelphi said in a study. "Already vulnerable areas could get pulled into a vicious cycle, leading to the rise of terrorist groups who will find it easier to operate, with consequences for us all," said Lukas Rüttinger, author of the report, in a statement. Climate change has been drying up the Lake Chad region, fuelling increased competition for land and water in an area where an insurgency by Boko Haram has uprooted more than 2.4 million people, the report said..."
Photo credit: Saharareporters.com.
Insurgency, Terrorism and Organized Crime in a Warming Climate. The report referenced above is available here (76 page PDF).
"Denigration of Science Is Like a Rot". Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Baltimore Sun: "...Our country is our home, and denigration of science is like a rot. When it takes hold, it puts the entire foundation at risk. Normalizing the idea that some science is a hoax allows other inconvenient conclusions to be more easily criticized, especially those opposed by special interests. This type of denial traces back to the tobacco industry's efforts to downplay the link between smoking and cancer, but a pivotal moment occurred in 2003. Republican pollster Frank Lunz wrote a talking points memo regarding climate change — which eventually became the core of the Bush administration's disinformation campaign — arguing, "The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate." The strategy was remarkably successful. Once learned, erroneous information is difficult, if not impossible to correct. This is one reason why today only about one in 7 Americans understands that over 90 percent of climate scientists are in agreement on the issue..."
The Nightmare Scenario For Florida's Coastal Homeowners. At some point the real estate bubble will burst. I hadn't thought of this, but boats (yachts) may be the canary in the watery coal mine, according to research highlighted at Bloomberg and MSN: "...He also told them to find out how many boats dock inland from the bridges that span the city’s canals (302). What matters, he guessed, will be the first time a mast fails to clear the bottom of one of those bridges because the water level had risen too far. “These boats are going to be the canary in the mine,” said Cason, who became mayor in 2011 after retiring from the U.S. foreign service. “When the boats can’t go out, the property values go down.” If property values start to fall, Cason said, banks could stop writing 30-year mortgages for coastal homes, shrinking the pool of able buyers and sending prices lower still. Those properties make up a quarter of the city’s tax base; if that revenue fell, the city would struggle to provide the services that make it such a desirable place to live, causing more sales and another drop in revenue..."
Photo credit: investinmiami.com.
The Word on Global Warming: "It's Happening, It's Arrived." We've gone from theory to reality; we can measure rising seas. Here's an excerpt from The Sarasota Herald-Tribune: "For those who think climate change is a myth or a product of normal cyclical changes in the environment, University of Miami geological sciences professor Harold Wanless has a message: It’s already here. “The important thing to understand about global warming is: It’s happening, it’s arrived,” Wanless told about 150 people at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee’s Selby Auditorium Tuesday evening. “That’s where we are.” Wanless was the keynote speaker at the Suncoast Climate Change Symposium, which also featured the city of Sarasota’s sustainability manager, Stevie Freeman-Montes. The academic focused most of his talk on ocean warming and sea-level rise, two topics that are at the forefront of many Floridians’ minds. According to Wanless, 93.4 percent of global warming heat is accumulating in the oceans. By 2100, the world could see between 4.1 and 6.6 feet of sea-level rise, according to a model cited by Wanless developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with other organizations..." (File image: NASA).
Was That Climate Change Too? Short Answer: Yes. Eric Roston takes a look at recent studies related to "attribution", and answering the question: how did a warmer (wetter) climate impact a specific weather event? Here's an excerpt from Bloomberg: "Among the findings:
- The deadly 2003 European heat wave, which killed more than 20,000 people, was the first major focus of an attribution study. The lead scientist reanalyzed the data in 2011. The heat wave is now thought to have been responsible for about 64 deaths in London and 506 in Paris.
- Heavy rain in southern Louisiana last August was studied by the World Weather Attribution project, which concluded that global warming had upped the odds considerably. By contrast, the central European flooding of May and June 2013 showed no such human fingerprints [see page S69 here: pdf].
- An April 2015 study in Nature Climate Change found that about 75 percent of major heat events and 18 percent of heavy precipitation events are attributable to global warming..."
Changing Minds on a Changing Climate. It turns out science is the biggest factor in changing mindsets. Here's an excerpt from Yale Climate Connections: "...Nearly half of those previously hell-bent on rejecting climate science actually credited science for updating their views on climate change. The most common rationale was that they simply learned the scientific basis for how human activities and greenhouse gas emissions are principal factors behind the changing climate over the past several decades.
… I reali[z]ed that co2 has an extremely long lifespan in the atmosphere compared to these other gases, and it’s the only one that we are directly responsible for producing via fossil fuels etc.
Another prevalent science-assisted conclusion was the ever-increasing evidence that the climate is changing. "The relentless accumulation of data finally became inescapable. The amount of measurable, observable proof was just too much to ignore. For me it was when I saw a simple chart – world temp and world CO2 levels, on [a] marked timeline..."
Antarctica Meltwater Rivers Raise Concerns About the Fate of the Continent. We still don't know what we don't know. But getting a handle on melting is critically important when it comes to predicting the rate of future sea level rise. Here's an excerpt from Nexus Media: "...Recently, however, Greenland has started melting from the middle. Pools of water are forming atop the ice sheet in the warmer months and then draining out to sea. Scientists have now discovered the same thing is happening in Antarctica. Two new studies published in the journal Nature catalogue the melting and explain what it could mean for sea-level rise. In the first study, researchers examined decades of photos from satellites and military aircraft. They documented hundreds of meltwater channels around the perimeter of the continent. They traced some streams deep into Antarctica’s frozen interior and discovered ponds of meltwater more than 4,000 feet above sea level, where no one expected to find liquid H2O..."
Image credit: "The Nansen Ice Shelf in Antarctica." Source: C. Yakiwchuck/European Space Agency
How a Melting Arctic Changes Everything. Bloomberg has an effective info-graphic and explainer on why we should all be paying close attention to changes in the Arctic: "...Sea ice has diminished much faster than scientists and climate models anticipated. Last month set a new low for March, out-melting 2015 by 23,000 square miles. Compared with the 1981-2010 baseline, the average September sea-ice minimum has been dropping by more than 13 percent per decade. A recent study in Nature Climate Change estimated that from 30-50 percent of sea ice loss is due to climate variability, while the rest occurs because of human activity. Receding ice decreases the Earth’s overall reflectivity, making the Arctic darker and therefore absorbing even more heat..."
How Will Climate Change Affect Colorado? Mike Nelson Interviews Dr. Kevin Trenberth. My friend, TV meteorologist Mike Nelson, conducted an eye-opening interview with the noted NCAR scientist at thedenverchannel.com: "Climate change has been a hot button issue for several decades now, but scientists around the world -- including here in Colorado -- are hoping more awareness of the issue will get people and politicians alike to act in order to mitigate some of the coming changes. First Alert Weather Chief Meteorologist Mike Nelson welcomed Dr. Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished Senior Scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, to the Denver7 studios to talk about climate change and the science behind it. They also talk about what you can start doing now to mitigate the effects climate change will have across the world..."