Thanks to governor for battling climate change

Thanks to governor for battling climate change
Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon

In an exciting stroke of the pen, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that New Mexico will join the U.S. Climate Alliance, adding New Mexico to the growing list of states pledging to embrace the necessary and ambitious goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement (“On climate, Lujan Grisham starts to deliver,” Our View, Jan. 31). Surrounded by environmental advocates, young people from the Santa Fe-based Global Warming Express, and heads of state agencies, we were honored to stand near the governor as she specifically named methane capture as a focal point in the state’s effort to combat climate change.

Climate change is a big, complex issue that can be difficult to understand. Within this complicated issue, methane has been overlooked and action on it has been consistently delayed or even rolled back. Gov. Lujan Grisham understands this and her actions demonstrate the crucial role that methane capture will play in the fight against climate change. The impacts of climate change pose dramatic challenges for New Mexico, including fires, flooding, drought, health impacts, and dramatic shifts in our state’s climate that will cause cascading damages to the state’s ecosystems and cultural resources.

The most recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlights the narrow 12-year window we have to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Because of its potency as a greenhouse gas, regulating methane emissions is one of the most promising ways to make dramatic short-term changes to the atmosphere that could be the difference between manageable climate impacts and disastrous ones.

We are proud to have a governor that is taking such decisive action, and we are proud to be part of the diverse coalition keeping climate change in the forefront of the state’s legislative agenda. Over the past couple of years, Climate Advocates/Voces Unidas, known as CAVU, has worked hard to inform a wide audience about the the impacts of methane emissions to New Mexico. Our Unearthed film series continues to bring together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss the opportunities and challenges presented by oil and gas development in our state. By creating dialogue, we can work toward common sense solutions that protect our environment and move our economy forward. It is encouraging to see this work translate into policy.

On behalf of CAVU and the many organizations working to make New Mexico a leader in climate policy, we want to thank the governor for taking the lead with this executive order. As she said herself, “It’s up to us” to face this problem head on.

Twelve years will pass in the blink of an eye. For the sake of our children, we look forward to finding solutions to the most pressing issue of our time.

Jordan Vaughan Smith and David Smith are the founders of Climate Advocates/Voces Unidas. They live in Santa Fe.

The Green New Deal Is Unrealistic? Get Real

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-02-11/the-green-new-deal-is-unrealistic-get-real

It’s an attention-grabbing mission statement at the start of a long and necessary battle.

Don’t dismiss it.
Don’t dismiss it.

Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

Opinions on the “Green New Deal” run the gamut from calling it “a bold, ambitious vision” to warning that it represents “the first step down a dark path to socialism.” A fairly common critique, though, is that it is unrealistic in whole or part; and that’s a view that crosses political lines. Even Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointedly referred to the proposals put forward by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey as “the green dream, or whatever they call it” in an interview with Politico.

Producers of oil, natural gas and coal — those squarely in the GND’s crosshairs — may be tempted to draw comfort from, or mimic, Pelosi’s offhandedness. I think that would be a mistake.

There are two reasons why dismissing the GND as unrealistic would be an error. First, to do so would be to merely state the obvious. A 14-page set of non-binding resolutions encompassing everything from getting the U.S. to net-zero carbon emissions to overhauling the nation’s transportation infrastructure and even implementing a federal job guarantee is plainly not what you would call ready-to-go legislation. And while AOC’s many critics may deride her as inexperienced, surely even they don’t think she’s unable to count how many Republican senators there are right now.

Rather, the GND is a set of sketched-out goals; a flag to rally support around for what its authors surely know will be a multi-year, and grinding, political battle. As ClearView Energy Partners put it in a report on the GND — coming as it does from a master of social media in our increasingly clickable political culture — this is about “counting likes (not votes).” By marrying environmental objectives with issues related to economic insecurity, Ocasio-Cortez and Markey are attempting to recast the doom-laden threat of climate change as an opportunity for economic and national renewal — a stance that mixes FDR liberalism with dashes of America First populism.

Far from thinking the GND’s enormous scope renders it an unrealistic mess, the fossil-fuel industry should consider it an opening gambit. Many of the proposals could be ditched or modified over time and America might still be left with far-reaching federal measures curbing the use of oil, natural gas and coal when the smoke clears. As it stands, polling shows comfortable majorities of Americans already think climate change is happening and is mostly man-made. Perhaps more importantly, roughly four-in-ten discuss the issue “often or occasionally” with family and friends, the highest proportion since the “Climate Change in the American Mind” survey was launched in 2008.

Such shifts in attitudes are why many fossil-fuel producers have also shifted in recent years toward acknowledging the reality of climate change and the role of their products in causing it. Herein lies the second reason why the GND’s lack of “realism” isn’t a promising line of attack over the long term.

As I wrote here, the incumbent energy industry’s change of heart comes after decades of rejecting warnings about climate change and helping to transform it from a question of science to one of political tribalism. Oil majors calling for carbon taxes after spending so many years of denying the need for action now actually find themselves to the left of a lot of senior Republican politicians on that specific issue. When even relatively straightforward measures like pricing carbon have become untouchable for one of the major U.S. parties, yet even producers admit there’s a problem, something has to give.

We find ourselves perhaps less than two decades away from reaching a tipping point beyond which the planet faces possibly catastrophic impacts in terms of things like flooding, drought and wildfires (indeed, California’s getting a bitter taste of this already). It is from this that the urgency of efforts such as the GND spring. Delaying action for decades and then denouncing ambitious proposals to deal with the consequences of that in short order is, let’s be honest, not a good look.

Sarah Ladislaw, a director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who published this smart blog post on the GND’s potential, offers this succinct rebuttal to the “realist” school of criticism:

It’s a hard conversation to calibrate. If the Green New Deal is infeasible, what do you call managing climate-change impacts? Surely that’s infeasible.

If the GND’s ambition is a testament to anything, it is that there are no easy solutions here. We have built our standard of living on forms of energy that we now know pose a threat to our very existence. That is a simple summation of a monumental challenge; one where time has eroded our margin for incremental action. No matter what you think of the specifics, or lack of them, this is a conversation that is long overdue — and necessarily begins with a shout, not a whisper.

Hurricanes are strengthening faster in the Atlantic, and climate change is a big reason why, scientists say

A startling study says that devastating storms that intensify rapidly are becoming more common.


Television reporters watch as Category 4 Hurricane Michael makes landfall along the Florida panhandle on Oct. 10, 2018, in Panama City Beach, Fla. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

February 7 at 6:16 PM

A group of top hurricane experts, including several federal researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, published striking new research Thursday suggesting that hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean have grown considerably worse, and climate change is part of the reason why.

The study focused on rapid intensification, in which hurricanes may grow from a weak tropical storm or Category 1 status to Category 4 or 5 in a brief period. They found that the trend has been seen repeatedly in the Atlantic in recent years. It happened before Hurricane Harvey struck Texas and before Hurricane Michael pummeled the Gulf Coast with little warning last fall. Hurricane Michael, for example, transformed from a Category 1 into a raging Category 4 in the span of 24 hours.

The study, published in Nature Communications, describes its conclusion in blunt language, finding that the Atlantic already has seen “highly unusual” changes in rapid hurricane intensification, compared to what models would predict from natural swings in the climate. That led researchers to conclude that climate change played a significant role.

“Natural variability cannot explain the magnitude of the observed upward trend,” they wrote. The research was led by Kieran Bhatia, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University and NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

“There’s just a whole host of issues that come along with rapid intensification, and none of them are good,” said Jim Kossin, one of the study’s authors and also a hurricane expert with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Kossin said that more rapidly intensifying storms means both that there are more strong storms overall, but also that there are more risky situations near land.

“Rapid intensification is exceedingly dangerous because people, they’re not warned adequately, they’re not prepared, many of them don’t evacuate,” he said.

The findings come in the wake of two of the most damaging years for hurricanes and other extreme events. In 2017, according to NOAA figures, the United States saw $306 billion in disaster losses, largely driven by Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma. In 2018, Hurricanes Florence and Michael were major factors in a $91 billion damage total.

Rapid intensification is generally measured by comparing the strength of a hurricane over a 24-hour period. A change in storm wind speed of greater than 35 mph in 24 hours is generally the cutoff.

By this measure, the five most destructive Atlantic storms of the past two years all went through rapid intensification:


Chris Mooney/The Washington Post

In the new study, the researchers used two separate data sets of storm behavior to analyze changes in the tendency of hurricanes to rapidly intensify. They looked at the globe and also at the Atlantic region specifically, but had less confidence in global figures, given that record-keeping of storm behavior is less reliable in other regions than in the carefully studied Atlantic.

Over a 28-year period from 1982 to 2009, the percentage of Atlantic storms that rapidly intensified had tripled, the study found. This was true of both data sets used, one of which records official hurricane statisticsfrom global monitoring agencies, such as the National Hurricane Center, and one of which uses satellite imagery to estimate storm strengths.

The researchers then used a model that can reliably simulate hurricanes to determine whether the rates of rapid intensification found in the study are significantly greater than seen in a version of the model that did not include human-caused climate change. One obvious inference is that warmer ocean temperatures, which provide the fuel for hurricanes, are probably driving explosive storm strengthening.

Kossin said that if hurricanes have the potential to achieve higher intensities because of warmer ocean conditions, they’ll also probably rapidly intensify more frequently, since they have more “headroom” to grow in strength. That could explain the results.

And Kossin noted that the study only went through 2009, due to limitations in the satellite data set. That means it did not include multiple recent rapidly intensifying storms — if it had, the findings might have been even stronger.

“We’re finding trends even without including what we’ve been seeing in the last few years,” Kossin said.

Still, the study did include some major devastating storms, such as 2005′s Hurricane Wilma, which rapidly intensified from a strong tropical storm into a Category 5 hurricane in just 24 hours.

“It is fortunate that this ultrarapid strengthening took place over open waters, apparently void of ships, and not just prior to a landfall,” the National Hurricane Center wrote in a post-season analysis of the storm.

Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at MIT, said the new results make theoretical sense — that storms are intensifying faster as the climate warms.

“One theoretical prediction, backed up by modeling results, is that intensity change should increase faster with global warming than intensity itself,” he said by email.

Emanuel added that rapid intensification creates a major emergency response problem — since rapid intensification is so hard to forecast, “important decisions, like whether not to evacuate a region, may have to be delayed.”

“Rapid intensification is a nightmare for hurricane forecasters especially for storms nearing land,” added Ryan Maue, a meteorologist with Weather.us. “As the climate warms, some ocean regions may disproportionately see more intense and rapidly intensifying storms.”

“This study uses an advanced climate model to determine if a climate warming signal has already emerged in recent decades. Their initial results suggest just that.”

Benjamin Strauss, chief executive and chief scientist at the research organization Climate Central, said the study seems in line with a growing body of research identifying the fingerprints of climate change in extreme weather events.

“This is a case where science seems to be following common sense. We’ve had so many badly destructive hurricanes strike the U.S. over the last 15 years that it’s hard not to feel something is amiss,” Strauss said.

“The intuition is easy: If you turn up the heat under a pot of water, it can shift quickly from simmer to boil,” Strauss added. “But the science of attributing hurricane characteristics to climate change has been difficult and requires a lot of computing power. This team has done important work, and I suspect it foreshadows a great deal more findings in the same direction.”

— Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2019/02/07/hurricanes-are-strengthening-faster-atlantic-climate-change-is-big-reason-why-scientists-say/?utm_term=.f4b51ed1664c

Black bear wandering around Kincaid Park in the middle of winter? Here’s why.

  •  Author: Tegan Hanlon
  •  Updated: 6 days ago
  •  Published 6 days ago
A black bear, in front of the front-end loader, rummages around equipment at Kincaid Park on Jan. 25, 2019. (Craig Norman photo)

A black bear, in front of the front-end loader, rummages around equipment at Kincaid Park on Jan. 25, 2019. (Craig Norman photo)

A black bear was spotted last week in Anchorage’s Kincaid Park, the wooded and popular recreation area on the west side of town.

Some reported the bear eating grass or drinking water or just wandering around, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. At least a few young skiers with the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage’s Junior Nordic League saw the bear off the snowmaking loop last Wednesday evening during a particularly busy evening at the park. They reported the sighting to their coach, Geoff Wright.

“I assumed they were looking at a moose or a large dog or a coyote, but probably not a bear,” Wright said. “It’s stories from 6- and 7-year-old kids and they say all sorts of funny things.”

Like many park users, Wright has spotted bears in Kincaid in the summer. But in his 20 or so years of skiing in the park, he said, he’d never seen a bear there in the middle of winter. Still, he told his group to turn around just in case. Later, another skier showed him a picture of the bear taken that evening. Bear sighting confirmed.

Fish and Game hasn’t gotten a report of the Kincaid bear since last Friday, so it has likely headed back to its den, said department spokesman Ken Marsh. The department is aware of bear dens in Kincaid.

“They usually don’t stay up long unless they have that consistent food source,” Marsh said.

But the midwinter bear spotting raises the questions: Why was the bear awake? Did it have to do with the warmer-than-usual temperatures last week? Do bears actually sleep all winter?

Sean Farley, a Fish and Game wildlife physiologist, didn’t see the Kincaid Park bear last week, but here’s what he said about why a bear might be wandering around Anchorage in January:

Weather plays a role in when bears head into their dens. In the Anchorage area, black and brown bears generally hibernate from late October or November to April or May, he said. Female bears that are pregnant typically go in earliest and come out the latest.

Farley described hibernation as a “spectrum of physiological adaptations” to conserve energy. Arctic ground squirrels, for instance, can drop their body temperatures to below freezing. Bears aren’t like that.

“They’re not out cold like ground squirrels, they’re more like a sleeping dog that can be roused pretty easily,” Farley said. “They’ll get up and move around and thrash around.”

For bears, hibernation means heading into dens and lowering their metabolic rate. Their body temperature lowers from roughly 101 degrees to about 90 or 91 degrees, Farley said. It’s a survival tactic to make it through the winter, when there’s little to no food available.

[Support local journalism in Anchorage. Subscribe to the Anchorage Daily News / adn.com]

During hibernation, bears usually don’t eat, drink, urinate or defecate. They’ll lose about 20 to 25 percent of their body weight. Mostly fat, Farley said.

Yes, they also sleep, but not the whole time.

Bears cycle through periods of deep sleep and periods of arousal. Their body temperature will increase a bit when they’re aroused. They might shift positions. They might poke their heads out of their den. They might even leave for a few hours and come back — that’s not common, but it’s not unheard of, Farley said.

“When we say ‘leave the den,’ they don’t usually go on big walks,” he said.

Pregnant bears will give birth just a couple of months into hibernation. They’ll nurse their cubs in their dens, despite not eating or drinking.

“They’ve got these newborn cubs that they’ve got to take care of. They can’t go to sleep and just be out of it,” Farley said. “The cubs can’t do anything. … All they can do is eat and scream and that’s about it. She has to move them around and hold them close to her body so they can nurse. She has to clean them.”

It’s very unlikely that a female bear with cubs will leave its den in the winter, Farley said.

So, why might a bear head outside in January?

A bear might get restless and want to stretch its legs, Farley said.

It’s also possible the bear went into a den too skinny. Its energy reserves might have gotten so low at some point that it prompted the bear to wake up and go look for food. It’s that or starve to death, Farley said.

Or, maybe a noise outside of the den stirred it when it wasn’t in a deep sleep. Farley noted, however, that he has photographs of snowmachine tracks that go over a den hole that’s covered in snow.

What about last week’s weather? Temperatures spiked to 44 degrees on Friday at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Could that be why the black bear wasn’t in its den?

A goal of a bear den: To keep the cold out, Farley said. So mild fluctuations in outside temperature shouldn’t really impact bears in insulated dens.

“If they’re deep inside in some sort of den, maybe covered with snow, they’re insulated,” he said. “So fluctuations in the ambient temperature outside the den don’t get reflected as strongly inside the den. Plus they’re in the den heating it themselves because they’re at least 90 degrees or so.”

In the Anchorage area, black bears often den in trees. Both brown and black bears will also dig into hillsides and excavate a dirt den. Bears can den in many other places too, Farley said.

If high temperatures melt snow and that leads to a bear’s den getting flooded, that’s another reason the bear might head outside. It’ll likely try to find another den, Farley said.

If you see a bear in the middle of winter, give it space, just as you would in the summer, Marsh said.

“Maybe turn around, change your course, you don’t want to push it,” he said.

Really this time of year, Marsh said, it’s more likely you’ll come upon a cranky moose.

“It’s been a long winter and they’re starting to get a little nutritionally stressed,” Marsh said. “Be alert just like you would in the summertime and give wildlife their space.”

Spread of ‘zombie’ disease killing off starfish linked to rising ocean temperatures Social Sharing

Rapidly spreading infection causes sunflower sea stars in Pacific coast to lose their limbs and die en masse

A newly released study says a combination of warm waters and infectious diseases has been determined as the cause of a die-off of populations of sunflower starfish across the Pacific coast. (Janna Nichols/University of California Davis via Associated Press)

42 comments

Listen6:29

When scientists first noticed a strange disease affecting sunflower starfish on the Pacific coast, the colourful creatures had just started to sprout “little white lesions” on their bodies.

Not long after that, it was like a “zombie apocalypse,” says Joseph Gaydos, science director of the SeaDoc Society at the University of California, Davis.

“They’re walking around and arms are falling off them,” he told As It Happens host Carol Off. “Ones that are in a greater progression of the disease, they’re just kind of melting into piles of ossicles.”

A few weeks later, divers recorded “a complete absence of these sunflower stars,” he said.

A study by Gaydos and his colleagues has connected the rapid spread of the so-called “wasting disease” behind mass die-offs of sunflower starfish to rising in ocean temperatures. The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

Sunflower starfish, also known as sunflower sea stars, are among the largest starfish in the world and come in a variety of bright colours, including purple and orange.

They can grow up to a metre wide and have as many as 24 arms.

A decade ago, they were “super abundant,” Gaydos said. “If you were to ask me then, you know, would these ever be rare, I would say no way, how could that ever happen?”

Population drops between 80-100%

But in 2013, scientists began noticing populations of the species declining between 80 and 100 per cent in deep and shallow waters, from Alaska and British Columbia right down to California.

The nature of the disease itself still eludes scientists, but one of the research theorize an increase in temperature makes the sea stars more susceptible to the disease that was already present, especially since they don’t have complex immune systems.

With global warming causing a heat wave in the oceans, the future is not looking bright for the starfish.

A side-by-side comparison of two photographs taken near Croker Island in B.C. shows thousands of sunflower sea stars swarming a rock on Oct. 9, 2013 on the left, and the same site, three weeks later, bereft of the sea creatures. (Neil McDaniel/UC Davis)

“Dealing with climate change is a huge thing. The other thing that I think we need to start thinking about now is what can we do to save these sunflower stars?” Gaydos said.

“We kind of have a mandate to take care of animals and not let them go extinct on our watch and we really are not certain what can we done at this point.”

A domino effect on the ecosystem

Gaydos said conservationists are looking at ways to preserve the species, possibly through selective breeding in captivity.

But it’s not just the starfish at risk.

The once-bountiful population feeds on sea urchins, which themselves feed on kelp — a major source of food and habitat for other ocean life.

“So with the sunflower stars gone, in a lot of places, the urchin population exploded and then they just gobbled up the kelp forest,” Gaydos said. “It’s just kind of like clear-cutting a forest on land.”

The die-offs, he said, should be a wake-up call.

“I think we can all make differences in everything we do with our life. We can push our governments to make differences. We can take the bus more. We can use less fossil fuels, ride our bikes,” he said.

“If we all start doing things, we’re going to have some impact. We can’t just throw our hands up.”

Written by Sheena Goodyear with Canadian Press. Produced by Allie Jaynes. 

Rising heat weakens jet stream, frees Arctic cold to fly south


 

Thanks to an economy long dependent on fossil fuels, the atmophere has become an increasingly effective heat trap. Overnight temperatures are still cooler than daytime temps, but they’re rising faster than daytime temps are, so the difference between night and day is shrinking.

It’s the same story for the Arctic and points south. The Arctic is still cooler than points south, but it’s warming faster, so the difference between up there and down here is shrinking. This is making a difference to the Northern Hemisphere’s jet stream, weakening it, which, in turn, is setting cold Arctic air masses free to fly south.
The polar vortex is the name of cold Arctic air normally swirling around the North Pole. With a weakened and more widely meandering jet, we get what you see here
Polar-Vortex-529px.png

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The poorest half of the world population is responsible for only around 10% of total global emissions attributed to individual consumption.”

<<https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/mb-extreme-carbon-inequality-021215-en.pdf

The Midwest is colder than Antarctica, Alaska, and Siberia right now

North American cities will be some of the coldest places in the world this week

Photo by Mario Tama / Getty Images

Saying that the upper half of North America is cold right now would be like saying that the Sun is hot. A polar vortex has caused extremely cold winds to sweep across the country, promising record-low temperatures, with highs still well below freezing.

How cold is that? Not that many places are likely to beat the coldest inhabited place on Earth, Oymyakon in Russia, which is expected to see lows in the negative 40s Fahrenheit this week. But plenty of Midwestern cities are going to be chillier than areas in the Arctic, Antarctic, and even other planets. Here is a list of places that will be warmer than the Midwest over the next couple of days.

ALASKA

While the Midwest shivers, Alaska has actually canceled its Willow 300 Sled Dog Racebecause it’s too warm. (The 300 Sled Race is a qualifier for the famous Iditarod.) Warm — which here means “above-freezing” — temperatures have led to pockets of open water on the trail, which would make the race dangerous. Similarly, the Yukon Quest race has been shortened because there’s just not enough snow.

SIBERIA

The low in Siberia is about 4 degrees Fahrenheit today. Milwaukee? Negative 20. Major bragging rights, but at what cost?

MOUNT EVEREST BASE CAMP

Early on Wednesday, Indianapolis was already negative 10 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Indianapolis Star. In contrast, Everest’s base camp (which, to be clear, is not the peak of Everest) was a positively balmy negative 2 degrees.

ANTARCTICA

By Thursday morning, Chicago is likely to reach its coldest-ever temperature of negative 27 degrees Fahrenheit, with a high of negative 15 degrees Fahrenheit, according to CNN. In comparison, Antarctica’s Priestley Glacier, which is part of the continent’s Deep Freeze Range, will have a low of negative 7 degrees and a high of 6 degrees.

MARS

Mars Weather@MarsWxReport

High temps today across Canada and the upper midwest of the US didn’t reach Mars last reported high.

1,796 people are talking about this

To be fair, the Mars reading that Chicago and Madison are currently beating is a daily high, and it was recorded by one instrument on the Curiosity rover. Other places on Mars are probably colder. In fact, the last recorded low on Mars was negative 99.4 degrees Fahrenheit — way colder than the Midwest, but still pretty impressive.

The dramatic temperatures we’re seeing this week are not an indication that global warming has slowed. A study last year found that extreme winter weather events like these are linked to a warming Arctic. That means that even as average temperatures rise, people living in those areas need to adjust to sudden cold snaps.

The situation is so dire that experts who have worked in the Arctic and Antarctic are giving advice to Midwesterners on how to stay warm. Stay dry and combine layers of wool and silk, Akiko Shinya, an Antarctic researcher and the chief fossil preparator at Chicago’s Field Museum tells the Chicago Tribune.

But no matter how cold it is in Chicago, Minnesota, or Wisconsin — even if it’s colder than some places on Mars — we need to keep things in perspective: at least we’re not with the spacecraft New Horizons, which has been plunging farther and farther into the Solar System. It’s somewhere near the Kuiper Belt, which has a temperature hovering not above zero, but above absolute zero, which is the lowest theoretical temperature possible. Take notes, #PolarVortex 2020. Time to start setting goals.

Trump used the polar vortex to mock global warming. This map shows how wrong he is.

Trump tweeted, “What the hell is going on with Global Warming?” Well, it’s still happening.

It’s freaking cold out there, America. But you don’t need a Vox explainer to know that. You knew it the second you woke up. Knew it in that dreadful moment just before peeling off the blankets, when you thought, “This is the warmest and most comfortable I’ll feel all day.”

A mass of polar air is descending over the Midwestern United States. Chicago might hit a low of minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday. It’s a dangerous, potentially deadly situation. “This is not a case of ‘meh, it’s Iowa during winter and this cold happens,’” the Des Moines office of the National Weather Service warned.

This forecast is not, however, evidence against climate change. Let’s say it again: This forecast is not evidence against climate change.

Yet the president of the United States, who has consistently expressed skepticism over climate change, and whose administration has deliberately made backward progress on the issue, could not help himself (complete with “Waming” typo):

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!

120K people are talking about this

(If this feels familiar, it’s because President Trump often tweets out this sentiment — I could keep linking — when it’s cold out.)

Yes, it can be weirdly cold in parts of the United States while global temperatures are still warmer than average. Remember, weather and climate are two different things. Weather is what we’re experiencing in the moment; climate is the broader trends that make certain weather experiences more or less likely.

Here’s one simple recent map from University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute that proves Trump wrong.

University of Maine Climate Change Institute

It shows daily temperature anomaly — or how different global temperatures were compared to a baseline from 1979 to 2000 — around the whole world. Overall, the world on January 29 was 0.3°C warmer on average, compared to the baseline. That’s true despite the fact parts of North America are 10-plus degrees below average.

And it doesn’t change the fact that 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record, or that there’s a massive heat wave currently overtaking much of Australia, or that Arctic sea ice continues to disappear at an alarming rate. This year could still end up being the hottest year on record, as forecasters anticipate an El Niño cycle picking up.

Here’s the take-home lesson: You shouldn’t look out your window to determine if you believe climate change is real.

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/1/29/18202010/polar-vortex-2019-trump-tweet-wrong

Climate Friendly Diets Are Healthier

Eating less red meat and more plant-based protein is better for the climate and for people’s health.

By Alexa Lardieri, Staff WriterJan. 24, 2019, at 6:00 a.m.
A healthy vegan/vegetarian lunch bowl of salads, grains, seeds, vegetables, avocado slices and a rich peanut-miso sauce.

A low-carbon diet consists of less red meat and dairy, and more beans, whole grains and plant-based proteins.(ENRIQUE DÍAZ/7CERO/GETTY IMAGES)

PEOPLE WHO FOLLOW A planet-friendly, diet eat healthier than those who don’t.

Food production is a major contributor to climate change, and a study published Thursday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who adhere to a climate-friendly diet, one that has a lower carbon footprint, eat healthier than those who don’t.

Diego Rose, lead author and a professor of nutrition and food security at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, said in a press release that people who follow a diet that has a low carbon footprint “were eating less red meat and dairy, which contribute to a larger share of greenhouse gas emissions and are high in saturated fat, and consuming more healthful foods like poultry, whole grains and plant-based proteins.”

Researchers examined the diets of 16,000 Americans and ranked them by the amount of greenhouse gas emissions per 1,000 calories consumed. They also rated the nutritional value of the diets using the U.S. Healthy Eating Index.

The study discovered that people following diets that had a low carbon footprint ate an overall healthier diet. However, these diets did contain some low-emission foods that aren’t healthy, such as sugars and refined grains, the press release states. Additionally, the climate-friendly diets also contained lower amounts of important nutrients, such as iron, calcium and vitamin D.

Diets that had the most impact on the planet accounted for five times the emissions of those in the lowest-impact group. The diets consisted of more beef, veal, pork, game, dairy and solid fats per 1,000 calories than the diets with low carbon footprint.

Martin Heller, co-author and researcher with the University of Michigan’s Sustainable Systems Center at the School for Environment and Sustainability, tells U.S. News that adopting a diet with a low carbon footprint is “beneficial for health and the environment” and that it doesn’t take drastic measures to make a difference.

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Heller says that one of the biggest changes people can make is to replace beef with plant-based alternatives, such as beans, peas and lentils, as well as meat alternatives, even choosing chicken over beef “is a significant benefit.”

The reason is that the production of red meat has one of the largest effects on the environment due to the amount of work it takes to produce it. A cow requires a lot more resources than a chicken, or plants, to produce the same amount of calories. Cows require much more feed, and they produce methane, mostly in the form of burps, which is a powerful greenhouse gas.

Rose echoed this sentiment in the press release, saying that Americans can have both “healthier diets and reduce our food-related emissions,” and doing so “doesn’t require the extreme of eliminating food entirely.” Just a small shift from red meat to chicken “could reduce our carbon footprint and improve our health at the same time.”

‘Tipping point’ risk for Arctic hotspot

News.

‘Tipping point’ risk for Arctic hotspot

A rapid shift under way in the Barents Sea could spread to other Arctic regions, scientists attending a conference in Norway have warned. The Barents Sea is said to be at a “tipping point”, BBC News explains, changing from an Arctic climate to an Atlantic climate as the water warms. The Arctic Ocean has a surface layer of freshwater “which acts as a cap” on a layer of warmer, saltier water below. “But now in the Barents Sea there’s not enough freshwater-rich sea ice flowing from the high Arctic to maintain the freshwater cap,” BBC News reports.

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Scientists warn climate change could reach a ‘tipping point’ sooner than predicted as global emissions outpace Earth’s ability to soak up carbon

A new study warns that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at current rates, Earth’s vegetation may not be able to keep up. “Once plants and soil hit the maximum carbon uptake they can handle, warming could rapidly accelerate”, MailOnline writes. The study from Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science investigates how changes in soil moisture affect its capability to act as a “carbon sink”. Currently, “plants and soil around the world absorb roughly a quarter of the greenhouse gases that humans release”, the New York Times explains. But “when the soil is dry, plants are stressed and can’t absorb as much CO2 to perform photosynthesis”. And with warmer conditions microorganisms in the soil become more productive and “release more CO2”. The researchers found that although “plants and soil could absorb more CO2 during the wetter years, it did not make up for their reduced ability to absorb CO2 in the years when soil was dry”. Carbon Brief has also covered the study.

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UK team drills record West Antarctic hole

Scientists have succeeded in cutting a 2km hole through the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to its base using a hot-water drill, BBC News reports. The team then collected sediment from the bottom of the hole and “deployed a series of instruments”. The researchers from the British Antarctic Survey hope that the data collected can help them determine how fast Antarctica might lose its ice in a warming world. Dr Andy Smith, who led the team, commented: “There are gaps in our knowledge of what’s happening in West Antarctica and by studying the area where the ice sits on soft sediment, we can understand better how this region may change in the future and contribute to global sea-level rise.”

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US coal retirements in 2019 to hit at least 6GW

2019 will see the retirement of nearly 6GW of coal power in the US, while 49GW of new power generation capacity will be added to the grid, according to the latest figures from S&P Global Market Intelligence, which is highlighted by CleanTechnica. In a related story, E&E News reports that a group of US utilities and other power producers say they may have to shut down their coal-fired power plants if a court rolls back a Trump administration extension to the deadline for closing some coal ash dumps. Their filing to the US Court of Appeals follows a legal challenge brought by environmental groups to the administration’s changes last July to the Obama-era regulations governing coal ash disposal, the article explains.

In other coal news, the Australian Financial Review reports that Jeremy Grantham, the “legendary British hedge fund manager” who founded GMO, has said that thermal coal is “dead meat”. Bloomberg investigates how a “loophole” lets Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund boost its coal exposure. Meanwhile, Forbes says that China’s “coal reliance is not falling nearly as fast as some like to claim”. Chinese coal demand “hasn’t been falling in the absolute sense”, the piece argues, continuing: “China approved nearly $6.7bn worth of new coal mining projects in 2018, and production increased 5.2% to 3.55bn tonnes”.

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