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PRBO Science News- November 2, 2012

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Highlight of the Week– Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change

1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

2CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

3- POLICY

4- RESOURCES

5- RENEWABLES AND RELATED

6OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

7IMAGES OF THE WEEK

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Highlight of the Week– Sandy and Climate Change….(with more photos in IMAGES OF THE WEEK below)

 

How Does Climate Change Make Superstorms Like Sandy More Destructive?

Posted: 31 Oct 2012 02:03 PM PDT Climateprogress.org


Satellite image of Superstorm Sandy taken at 10 am EDT Tuesday. Image NASA GSFC via Masters.

Climate science explains how global warming can make a superstorms like Sandy more destructive in several ways:

I have put these in order from most scientific certainty to least. The first two — the impact of sea level rise and increased water vapor — are unequivocal. The third is extremely likely. The fourth is more speculative. Remember, climate scientists and others have for quite some time been warning New York City that climate change was dramatically increasing the odds of a devastating storm surge — see Greg Laden’s post, “Peer Reviewed Research Predicted NYC Subway Flooding by #Sandy.” See also today’s NY Times story, “For Years, Warnings That It Could Happen Here.” Also a brand new study of storm surges since 1923 finds “that Katrina-magnitude events have been twice as frequent in warm years compared with cold years” — so more severe surges are on the way.

And that’s the other key reason we must make the connection to climate change: Scientists worst-case scenarios are already happening — so their latest findings deserve attention so that Sandy doesn’t become just another Cassandra whose warnings are ignored. Now climate scientists project that we risk up to 10 times as much warming this century as in the last 50 years — with many devastating consequences from dramatic sea level rise to Dust-Bowlification (see my review of more than 60 recent studies). That means the 4 factors described above are going to have a greater and greater impact over time. That’s one of the many, many reasons we must act to reduce emissions ASAP, so we don’t keep getting “new normals” that ultimately make Sandy and Irene seem tame. …

 

 

It’s Global Warming, Stupid

By Paul M. Barrett on November 01, 2012 Bloomberg Business Week

Yes, yes, it’s unsophisticated to blame any given storm on climate change. Men and women in white lab coats tell us—and they’re right—that many factors contribute to each severe weather episode. Climate deniers exploit scientific complexity to avoid any discussion at all. Clarity, however, is not beyond reach. Hurricane Sandy demands it: At least 40 U.S. deaths. Economic losses expected to climb as high as $50 billion. Eight million homes without power. Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated. More than 15,000 flights grounded. Factories, stores, and hospitals shut. Lower Manhattan dark, silent, and underwater…. In an Oct. 30 blog post, Mark Fischetti of Scientific American took a spin through Ph.D.-land and found more and more credentialed experts willing to shrug off the climate caveats. The broadening consensus: “Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us.” Even those of us who are science-phobic can get the gist of that.

Sandy featured a scary extra twist implicating climate change. An Atlantic hurricane moving up the East Coast crashed into cold air dipping south from Canada. The collision supercharged the storm’s energy level and extended its geographical reach. Pushing that cold air south was an atmospheric pattern, known as a blocking high, above the Arctic Ocean. Climate scientists Charles Greene and Bruce Monger of Cornell University, writing earlier this year in Oceanography, provided evidence that Arctic icemelts linked to global warming contribute to the very atmospheric pattern that sent the frigid burst down across Canada and the eastern U.S.

If all that doesn’t impress, forget the scientists ostensibly devoted to advancing knowledge and saving lives. Listen instead to corporate insurers committed to compiling statistics for profit.

On Oct. 17 the giant German reinsurance company Munich Re issued a prescient report titled Severe Weather in North America. Globally, the rate of extreme weather events is rising, and “nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America.” From 1980 through 2011, weather disasters caused losses totaling $1.06 trillion. Munich Re found “a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades.” By contrast, there was “an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe, and 1.5 in South America.” Human-caused climate change “is believed to contribute to this trend,” the report said, “though it influences various perils in different ways.”

Global warming “particularly affects formation of heat waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity,” Munich Re said. This July was the hottest month recorded in the U.S. since record-keeping began in 1895, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The U.S. Drought Monitor reported that two-thirds of the continental U.S. suffered drought conditions this summer.

 

New York Times November 1, 2012:

 

 


Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change- Fact Sheet

 

 


Center for Climate and Energy Solutions October 31, 2012

Overview

Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of the rising risks of climate change. A number of warming-related factors may well have intensified the storm’s impact. Higher ocean temperatures contributed to heavier rainfall. Higher sea levels produced stronger storm surges. New research suggests that Arctic melting may be increasing the risk of the kind of atmospheric traffic jam that drove Sandy inland. While no single weather event can be said to have been directly caused by climate change, our weather now is the product of our changing climate, as increased warming raises the probability of extreme weather events. In highlighting our vulnerabilities to extreme weather, Hurricane Sandy underscores two imperatives: We need to reduce the risks of climate change by reducing our carbon emissions, and we must strengthen our defenses against future impacts that it may be too late to avoid.

 

Lessons from Hurricane Sandy for [SF] Bay Area business leaders

Posted on October 29, 2012 by UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences
By Jeffrey F. Mount, geology professor and founding director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences


Likely seawater inundation of Bay Area from an intense 100-year storm (1% probability in any given year) today (blue) and with 150 cm sea level rise (red). US Geological Survey, 2010

As you read this today, Hurricane Sandy is colliding with cold air from Canada and creating an impressive storm in the Northeast. Strong onshore winds and an intense low-pressure system are causing storm surges as high as 13 feet in Lower Manhattan, threatening to swamp the subway system. On the land, 5-10 inches of rain is flooding creeks and rivers and overwhelming stormwater systems.

This combination of too much runoff heading to the ocean and too much water surging in from the ocean will continue to cause dramatic coastal flooding this week. Worse, the combination is centered on the most densely populated part of the Northeast coast, setting the stage for maximum economic damage and disruption.

The San Francisco Bay Area business community should be taking notes. This trifecta of high tides, storm surge and intense rain is also a Bay Area scenario. Scientists and a host of government agencies have been warning about such an event for years. It may not appear so on a map, but the Bay Area has half of California’s shoreline. Unlike the rest of the state’s coast, most of that shoreline is along reclaimed lowlands that are prone to flooding from the bay and surrounding creeks – the same as waterfront cities in New York and New Jersey.

A major storm in the Bay Area would put more than 140,000 people at risk of serious flooding, along with $30 billion worth of public assets that include the Port of Oakland, two major airports and 800 miles of roadways. Though they are not hurricanes, California experiences its own form of tropical storms known as the Pineapple Express. Scientists call these storms “atmospheric rivers.” They tap into energy and moisture from the tropics, producing winds and rainfall rates that match the fury of Hurricane Sandy. When these storms combine with high tides, much as Sandy has, they can cause widespread flooding along the coast in the Bay Area. Many regional and local planning agencies have sounded the alarm: the Association of Bay Area Governments; the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the Bay Area Council; the Metropolitan Transportation Commission; CalTrans; the California Ocean Protection Council; the Environmental Protection Agency; and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. In addition, all nine Bay Area counties have identified this flooding scenario as significant potential hazard in their general plans.

Meanwhile, the business community has been passive – ensuring nothing will get done. This may be because so much of the Bay Area discussion on flood risk has been in the long-term context of sea level rise resulting from climate change. Yet all of the flood studies have shown that the risk today is high. Sea level rise will only make matters worse.

Bay Area business leaders should map this week’s whopper storm in the Northeast onto their own coastal turf. As California’s version of Sandy rolls in and overwhelms the Bay Area’s meager flood defenses, businesses like Oracle, Cisco, Intuit, Lockheed Martin, Google and Facebook will find themselves unable to do business, possibly for a long time.

It makes good business sense for these businesses to move aggressively to manage their coastal flood risk.

Further reading

 

Sandy and the winds of change

You don’t need a climate scientist to tell which way the wind blows.

By Eugene Linden Los Angeles Times Op-Ed November 2, 2012

Even as Sandy underwent its bizarre metamorphosis from hurricane to winter storm, the question arose in many inquiring minds (at least those not beholden to a solemn oath of climate-change denial): Was this historic storm a symptom of global warming? Climate science has two ready answers: Absolutely! And, of course not! On the one hand, a warming globe makes megastorms more probable, while on the other, it is impossible to pin a global warming sticker on Sandy because the circumstances that turned it into a monster could have been mere coincidence.There is, however, another way of looking at Sandy that might resolve this debate, and also help frame what we really should be worried about when it comes to global warming: An infrastructure created to defend against historical measures of worst-case natural threats was completely overpowered by this storm. New York City’s defenses were inadequate, and coastal defenses failed over a swath of hundreds of miles. Around the nation, such mismatches have been repeated ever more frequently in recent years.

This summer, barge owners discovered that dredging in the Mississippi River, predicated on the history of the river’s ups and downs, left it too shallow for commercial traffic because of the intense Midwestern drought. And, famously, levees in New Orleans that were largely through the process of being improved even as Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 were still breached in 50 places. Then, seven years to the day after Katrina struck, Plaquemines Parish was drowned by Hurricane Isaac in flooding residents described as worse than Katrina’s.

It’s true that factors other than megastorms — loss of flood plains, subsidence and neglect — can exacerbate a failure, but the number of failures of all types of defenses has been stunning. Such failures are telling us that something new is afoot. Our levees, dredging protocols and, in New York City, subway tunnel designs and improvements incorporate society’s best guess of what it takes to protect against the worst nature might throw at us. Such defenses are expensive, so a city or agency won’t spend more than it deems necessary. But the consequences of underestimating are also so enormous — consider the billions that will be spent restoring Manhattan’s infrastructure and ruined neighborhoods alone — that we routinely construct them to withstand 100- or even 500-year events, estimates based on probability calculations and history of rare, extreme disasters. Yet these days such events seem to occur annually. This is borne out by statistics. Among the many records set by Sandy, one was for the highest wave ever recorded in New York Harbor: 32.5 feet. That eclipsed the previous record wave of 26 feet. When was the earlier record set? Just last year, courtesy of Hurricane Irene. Another message from Sandy is the reminder that climate change is camouflaged. It arrives as familiar weather events and after slowly accumulating changes.

Sandy was unusual in many ways, but it is also easy to dismiss its significance because it started out as a hurricane and hurricanes have always marched up the Atlantic coast, even as late as November. As for the surge that inundated beach towns and city streets, it came on top of a sea level that has been rising slowly, on average less than one-tenth of an inch per year, though the pace has been accelerating in recent decades. The oceans are now roughly 9 inches higher than they were 140 years ago, and, for the most part, our sea defenses have not kept pace. Perhaps the most important message from Sandy is that it underscores the enormous price of underestimating the threat of climate change. Damage increases exponentially even if preparations are only slightly wrong. In trying to protect Grand Forks, N.D., from a spring flood in 1997, the city used sandbags to defend against a high-water mark of 52 feet, comfortably above the 49-foot crest predicted by the National Weather Service but, unfortunately, below the 54-foot crest that occurred on April 21. It was only 10% higher than what was expected, but the damage was many hundred times greater than if the protections had not been breached; 50,000 homes suffered damage.

At some point the consensus among climate scientists might convince even those now in denial that they ignore the role of global warming in extreme weather events at the nation’s peril. In the meantime, Sandy’s trampling of the Northeast’s defenses against the weather, as well as scores of other major infrastructure failures in the face of extreme floods, heat, drought and winds in the United States and around the world, tell us that climate change is already here.

Eugene Linden is the author of “Winds of Change: Climate, Weather and the Destruction of Civilizations,” which won the 2007 Grantham Prize Special Award of Merit. {GREAT BOOK—recommended reading!}

 

Cuomo Says Area Vulnerable to Extreme Storms

Michael M. Grynbaum New York Times October 31, 2012

Mr. Cuomo is sounding a sober note about the possibility of more extreme-weather scenarios in the New York City region. “Climate change is a reality,” the governor said. “Given the frequency of these extreme weather situations we have had — and I believe it is an increased frequency — for us to sit here today and say this is a once-in-a-generation, and it’s not going to happen again, I think would be short sighted.” The governor said that New York must “anticipate more of these extreme weather type situations in the future,” and he said that elected officials have a responsibility to think about new designs, or new techniques, to prevent similar damage to the region’s infrastructure in the face of future storms….

 

 

And Toles cartoon from Tuesday Oct 30….

 

 

 

 


Anthropocene Continues to Spark Scientific Debate

 

 


November 1, 2012 — How have humans influenced Earth? Can geoscientists measure when human impacts began overtaking those of Earth’s other inhabitants and that of the natural Earth system? Responding to increasing … > full story

50% in 10 Years: A New Global Collaboration to Restore Fisheries
One billion people in the world depend upon fish for their primary protein. Representatives of 30 organizations are designing a global collaboration to bring 50% of fish and fisheries within sustainable management in 10 years. Economists at the World Bank estimate that the benefits of reform would add at least $20bn (£12.45bn) annually to the global economy. The Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit recently commissioned a set of 50 global case studies and among the lessons is one clear message: we know what to do in order to manage our ocean resources wisely, and good management pays.


New Study to Examine Ecological Tipping Points in Hopes of Preventing Them

 

 

ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2012) — Predation by otters keeps urchin populations in check, allowing kelp — a favorite food of urchins — to flourish. But what if otters were harvested to near extinction for their fur? The resulting overabundance of urchins would decimate the kelp forest, leaving little food or shelter for fish and invertebrates. And so it may go, as declines in these species are likely to affect others.

NASA maps how nutrients affect plant productivity
(November 1, 2012) — A new analysis has estimated how much the growth of plants worldwide is limited by the amount of nutrients available in their soil. The maps produced from the research will be particularly useful in evaluating how much carbon dioxide Earth’s ecosystems may be able to soak up as greenhouse gas levels increase. … > full story

Mass extinction study provides lessons for modern world
(October 29, 2012) — The Cretaceous Period of Earth history ended with a mass extinction that wiped out numerous species, most famously the dinosaurs. A new study now finds that the structure of North American ecosystems made the extinction worse than it might have been… “Our analyses show that more species became extinct for a given plant die-off in the youngest communities,” Mitchell said. “We can trace this difference in response to changes in a number of key ecological groups such as plant-eating dinosaurs like Triceratops and small mammals.” The results of Mitchell and his colleagues paint a picture of late Cretaceous North America in which pre-extinction changes to food webs — likely driven by a combination of environmental and biological factors — results in communities that were more fragile when faced with large disturbances.

“Besides shedding light on this ancient extinction, our findings imply that seemingly innocuous changes to ecosystems caused by humans might reduce the ecosystems’ abilities to withstand unexpected disturbances,” Roopnarine said.

… Most likely a combination of changing climate and other environmental factors caused some types of animals to become more or less diverse in the Cretaceous, the researchers concluded. In their paper they suggest that the drying up of a shallow sea that covered part of North America may have been one of the main factors leading to the observed changes in diversity. The study provides no evidence that the latest Cretaceous communities were on the verge of collapse before the asteroid hit. “The ecosystems collapsed because of the asteroid impact, and nothing in our study suggests that they would not have otherwise continued on successfully,” Mitchell said. “Unusual circumstances, such as the after-effects of the asteroid impact, were needed for the vulnerability of the communities to become important.”The study has implications for modern conservation efforts, Angielczyk observed. “Our study shows that the robustness or fragility of an ecosystem under duress depends very much on both the number of species present, as well as the types of species,” he said, referring to their ecological function. The study also shows that more is not necessarily better, because simply having many species does not insure against ecosystem collapse. “What you have is also important,” Angelczyk said. “It is therefore critical that conservation efforts pay attention to ecosystem functioning and the roles of species in their communities as we continue to degrade our modern ecosystems.”….> full story

 

Feedlot prospects worrisome for U.S. cattle industry
(October 30, 2012) — Not only are feedlots paying record prices for feed and essentially record prices for feeder cattle, it has been recognized for quite a while now that the supply of feeder cattle will be increasingly inadequate to maintain feedlot inventories at any price. … > full story

Exhaustive family tree for birds shows recent, rapid diversification
(October 31, 2012) — The most comprehensive family tree for birds to date has just been completed, connecting all living bird species — nearly 10,000 in total — and revealing surprising new details about their evolutionary history and its geographic context. … > full story

The global diversity of birds in space and time

W. Jetz, et al NATURE 31 October 2012

Current global patterns of biodiversity result from processes that operate over both space and time and thus require an integrated macroecological and macroevolutionary perspective1, 2, 3, 4. Molecular time trees have advanced our understanding of the tempo and mode of diversification5, 6, 7 and have identified remarkable adaptive radiations across the tree of life8, 9, 10. However, incomplete joint phylogenetic and geographic sampling has limited broad-scale inference. Thus, the relative prevalence of rapid radiations and the importance of their geographic settings in shaping global biodiversity patterns remain unclear. Here we present, analyse and map the first complete dated phylogeny of all 9,993 extant species of birds, a widely studied group showing many unique adaptations. We find that birds have undergone a strong increase in diversification rate from about 50 million years ago to the near present. This acceleration is due to a number of significant rate increases, both within songbirds and within other young and mostly temperate radiations including the waterfowl, gulls and woodpeckers. Importantly, species characterized with very high past diversification rates are interspersed throughout the avian tree and across geographic space. Geographically, the major differences in diversification rates are hemispheric rather than latitudinal, with bird assemblages in Asia, North America and southern South America containing a disproportionate number of species from recent rapid radiations. The contribution of rapidly radiating lineages to both temporal diversification dynamics and spatial distributions of species diversity illustrates the benefits of an inclusive geographical and taxonomical perspective. Overall, whereas constituent clades may exhibit slowdowns10, 11, the adaptive zone into which modern birds have diversified since the Cretaceous may still offer opportunities for diversification.

 

River floods predicted using new technology
(October 29, 2012) — Scientists are now using high-tech solutions to provide real-time forecast of the dangers of river floods caused by climate change and human activities to help avoid disasters. … > full story


Cave built to fight fatal bat disease

 

 


November 1, 2012 SF Chronicle The nearly 80-foot-long concrete chamber was built to protect bats against white nose syndrome, a disease named for a white fungus that infects the skin of the muzzle, ears and wings of hibernating bats. Scientists have been confounded by the… more »

Repopulation of countryside is essential tool to avoid major fires, Spanish experts say
(October 28, 2012) — A preliminary report on the major fires Valencia, Spain suggests that repopulation of the countryside is an essential tool to avoid major forest fires, and points out alternative solutions such as biological firewalls that involve developing pastures. … > full story

What’s Wrong with Putting a Price on Nature?
The concept of pricing ecosystem services and allowing them to be bought and sold has gained wide acceptance among conservationists in recent years. But does this approach merely obscure nature’s true value and put the natural world at even greater risk?

Maryland: Event Marks Transformation Of Polluted Baltimore Waterfront Into Preserve
Some Baltimore school children are joining federal and state officials in celebrating the transformation of a polluted south Baltimore waterfront into an environmental preserve. The 11-acre nature area is part of a $22 million project to restore one of Baltimore harbor’s most polluted areas. More than 60,000 tons of trash and debris dating back more than a century have been removed, along with invasive plants and sickly trees. The area is being replanted with native trees, shrubs and wetland plants.

 

Washington Legislature to examine killing wolves

SEATTLE (AP) November 2, 2012 — A key state lawmaker says he’ll hold a hearing on the state Fish and Wildlife Department’s decision to kill a pack of wolves that had been preying on cattle in northeast Washington. The department says it had no choice but to… more »

 

Minnesota wolf season opens Saturday

AP November 2, 2012…Dan Stark a wolf specialist with the Department of Natural Resources, says he expects hunters will take about 70 wolves in the early season. Wisconsin hunters and trappers have taken more than 40 wolves since their season opened Oct. 15. more »

 

Big Sears Point Marsh Restoration Gets $4.2 Million Boost
With $4.2 million in new funding, the Sonoma Land Trust is set next year to begin an ambitious project to restore wetlands and provide public access to nearly 1,000 acres of former farmland along San Pablo Bay. The land trust estimates it will spend about $18 million to return the former hay and wheat fields to marshes…..

 


27 dead doves in Vegas area have bird virus

 

 


(AP) November 1, 2012— Wildlife officials in Nevada are asking the public to help look out for sick or dying pigeons or doves in the Las Vegas area after more than two dozen dead doves tested positive for a bird virus. Wolff says the virus known as PPMV1… more »


6 more whooping cranes now headed to Florida

 

 


(AP) November 1, 2012 –The cranes are part of the project conducted by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, which is an international coalition of organizations that is reintroducing the bird in eastern North America. The birds were released Monday at Horicon… more »

 

 

 

Agriculture and food production contribute up to 29 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions
(October 30, 2012) — Feeding the world releases up to 17,000 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, according to a new analysis. But while the emissions “footprint” of food production needs to be reduced, a companion policy brief lays out how climate change will require a complete recalibration of where specific crops are grown and livestock are raised. … > full story

 

Climate Change Affecting Overall Weather Patterns, May Affect Water Availability, in California ScienceDaily November 1, 2012

Climate change is affecting overall weather patterns, scientists say, and could affect water availability in California. … California isn’t going to face a superstorm like Hurricane Sandy because the Pacific Ocean is too cold to feed that kind of weather system. But that doesn’t mean California won’t see extreme weather, say researchers from the University of California, Merced. “We can see very big storms, and there are a couple of issues related to climate change to think about,” said Roger Bales, director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute. “Most of our biggest storms are snow storms, which builds up snowpack in the mountains. The snowpack is a reservoir, storing water that will be used throughout the year across the state. “But if you warm the climate,” he said, “those storms become rain events — there’s more immediate runoff, less water storage, and the rain will actually melt some of the existing snowpack. > full story

 


UK Butterfly Populations Threatened by Extreme Drought and Landscape Fragmentation

 

 

ScienceDaily November 1, 2012

A new study has found that the sensitivity and recovery of UK butterfly populations to extreme drought is affected by the overall area …  > full story

 

 

VIDEO:  NASA Examines Hurricane Sandy as it Affects the Eastern U.S.

 

Trenberth: Hurricane Sandy Mixes Super-Storm Conditions With Climate Change

By by Kevin Trenberth Climate Guest Blogger on Oct 29, 2012 at 10:15 am

As I write this, Hurricane Sandy remains a very large, powerful hurricane. On Sunday afternoon (local time), Sandy brought winds gusting to 103km/h to coastal North Carolina. Heavy rains are already occurring from North Carolina to New Jersey with amounts recorded of 4cm so far.

But Sandy is predicted to turn left and move ashore on the Atlantic coast somewhat south of New York and north of Washington DC in a day or so. Rainfalls exceeding 15cm are likely in some areas, but a major risk is from the coastal storm surge on top of very high sea levels made higher by climate change.

A large easterly wind fetch has already piled waters up along the coast, and with high tide and the storm surge, and storm force winds extending a huge 800km plus from the center, the potential for the ocean surges to be over 3m is very real in the New York City area.

The sea surface temperatures along the Atlantic coast have been running at over 3C above normal for a region extending 800km off shore all the way from Florida to Canada. Global warming contributes 0.6C to this. With every degree C, the water holding of the atmosphere goes up 7%, and the moisture provides fuel for the tropical storm, increases its intensity, and magnifies the rainfall by double that amount compared with normal conditions.

Global climate change has contributed to the higher sea surface and ocean temperatures, and a warmer and moister atmosphere, and its effects are in the range of 5 to 10%. Natural variability and weather has provided the perhaps optimal conditions of a hurricane running into extra-tropical conditions to make for a huge intense storm, enhanced by global warming influences…..

 

CNN Bans Term ‘Frankenstorm’, But It’s A Good Metaphor For Warming-Driven Monster: ‘Largest Hurricane In Atlantic History’

By Joe Romm on Oct 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm

UPDATE from Stu Ostro, Weather Channel Senior Meteorologist: “History is being written as an extreme weather event continues to unfold, one which will occupy a place in the annals of weather history as one of the most extraordinary to have affected the United States.

What would you call an “unprecedented and bizarre” storm that is:

…..Humans are changing the climate in dangerous and unprecedented ways. At first it was unintentional, but no one in the public arena can possibly claim today they haven’t been warned — repeatedly — by climate scientists and others (see, for instance Lonnie Thompson on why climatologists are speaking out: “Virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.”) Dr. Kevin Trenberth, former head of the Climate Analysis Section at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained in a must-read 2012 review article in Climatic Change:

The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be….We can even make a stronger statement today in the case of hurricanes thanks to a brand new study, “Homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923We demonstrate that the major events in our surge index record can be attributed to landfalling tropical cyclones; these events also correspond with the most economically damaging Atlantic cyclones. We find that warm years in general were more active in all cyclone size ranges than cold years. The largest cyclones are most affected by warmer conditions and we detect a statistically significant trend in the frequency of large surge events (roughly corresponding to tropical storm size) since 1923. In particular, we estimate that Katrina-magnitude events have been twice as frequent in warm years compared with cold years.”

The name “Frankenstorm” fits. Ostro says this is “even more extreme” than the infamous Perfect Storm of 1991. The unique severity of the storm is the point! Manmade warming has consequences. The time to act is now. For those who aren’t regular readers of Climate Progress, here’s more of the literature on how manmade carbon pollution is making many of the most destructive kinds of extreme weather events — Frankenstorms – more frequent and more intense.

UPDATE: Let’s start with a quote from Jennifer Francis of Rutgers (via DotEarth) on the link between Sandy and the record-smashing Arctic sea ice loss:

Read more

 


Why Seas Are Rising Ahead of Predictions: Estimates of Rate of Future Sea-Level Rise May Be Too Low

 

 

ScienceDaily (Nov. 1, 2012) — Sea levels are rising faster than expected from global warming, and University of Colorado geologist Bill Hay has a good idea why. The last official IPCC report in 2007 projected a global sea level rise between 0.2 and 0.5 meters by the year 2100. But current sea-level rise measurements meet or exceed the high end of that range and suggest a rise of one meter or more by the end of the century. “What’s missing from the models used to forecast sea-level rise are critical feedbacks that speed everything up,” says Hay. He will be presenting some of these feedbacks in a talk on  Nov. 4, at the meeting of The Geological Society of America in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. One of those feedbacks involves Arctic sea ice, another the Greenland ice cap, and another soil moisture and groundwater mining.

“There is an Arctic sea ice connection,” says Hay, despite the fact that melting sea ice — which is already in the ocean — does not itself raise sea level. Instead, it plays a role in the overall warming of the Arctic, which leads to ice losses in nearby Greenland and northern Canada. When sea ice melts, Hay explains, there is an oceanographic effect of releasing more fresh water from the Arctic, which is then replaced by inflows of brinier, warmer water from the south. “So it’s a big heat pump that brings heat to the Arctic,” says Hay. “That’s not in any of the models.” That warmer water pushes the Arctic toward more ice-free waters, which absorb sunlight rather than reflect it back into space like sea ice does. The more open water there is, the more heat is trapped in the Arctic waters, and the warmer things can get. Then there are those gigantic stores of ice in Greenland and Antarctica. During the last interglacial period, sea level rose 10 meters due to the melting of all that ice — without any help from humans. New data suggests that the sea-level rise in the oceans took place over a few centuries, according to Hay. “You can lose most of the Greenland ice cap in a few hundred years, not thousands, just under natural conditions,” says Hay. “There’s no telling how fast it can go with this spike of carbon dioxide we are adding to the atmosphere.”

This possibility was brought home this last summer as Greenland underwent a stunning, record-setting melt. The ice streams, lubricated by water at their base, are speeding up.

 

 

Flood risk will rise with climate change, experts say

By Juliet Eilperin, Thursday, November 1, 9:52 AM

As the Northeast struggles with the aftermath of the massive storm Sandy, many experts say the government for years has underestimated how much of the nation is prone to flooding, given the increasing likelihood of extreme weather because of climate change and the prospect of future sea level rise. These experts, who include not only environmentalists but also community planners, insurers and fiscal conservatives, have pressed agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency to rethink the way the government evaluates the risk of floods. Such a change could affect where and how infrastructure is built and make it harder to develop vulnerable areas. FEMA, which is updating flood insurance maps from the 1980s, is setting up a “technical mapping advisory council” that will study how the agency might take future climate change into account. At this point, it still bases its analysis on historical data.

But Sandy’s devastating punch might bolster the case for change, given how it exposed many areas’ vulnerabilities to storm surge and sea level rise.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said policymakers need to acknowledge that the infrastructure in place along the East Coast cannot withstand the changing climate.

“Anyone who thinks that there is not a dramatic change in weather patterns is denying reality,” Cuomo said at a news conference Tuesday. “We have a new reality, and old infrastructures and old systems.”

Flood planning is based on historical data rather than future projections. And much of the infrastructure damaged in a storm is rebuilt exactly the same way, without taking into account the climatic changes underway. FEMA draws the flood maps to provide guidelines to local authorities who determine where things can be built. Many developers and homeowners have resisted the idea of expanding the definition of flood risk because it raises costs and can restrict development. Policymakers “are afraid of the political backlash,” said Georgetown Climate Center executive director Vicki Arroyo. And expanding the maps means increasing the area covered by the 44-year-old National Flood Insurance Program, which covers Americans in flood-prone areas with federally backed insurance provided they meet federal standards aimed at minimizing risks. The program was at least $17.75 billion in debt before Sandy made landfall, and the storm could deplete the program’s remaining $3 billion statutory borrowing authority. The insurance is voluntary.

Proponents argue that the flood insurance program provides coverage that would otherwise be unaffordable and saves taxpayers money by prodding communities to take precautions. Critics say the program encourages Americans to build in vulnerable areas, with 40 percent of the total payout going to 2 percent of properties that were repeatedly flooded.

Climate change is only happening in one direction,” said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “The temperature is warmer, the sea level is higher and the air is warmer so it can hold more moisture.”…..

 

Beach Repairs at $8 Million a Mile Run Up Bill Sandy Left

Jim Snyder San Francisco Chronicle November 1, 2012

Superstorm Sandy washed away beaches and sent raw sewage and diesel fuel into waterways, leaving an environmental repair bill for New York and New Jersey exceeding $100 million. The harm to wildlife and habitats probably will be extensive given… more »

 

Sandy to Erode Many Atlantic Beaches

October 27, 2012Nearly three quarters of the coast along the Delmarva Peninsula is very likely to experience beach and dune erosion as Hurricane Sandy makes landfall, while overwash is expected along nearly half of … > full story

 

Superstorm sweeps pelican into eastern Conn.

Associated Press November 2, 2012

Animal control officer Michael Martin captured the bird, which appeared healthy, and caged it. Patrick Comins, director of bird conservation for Audubon Connecticut, says many birds were blown around by Sandy’s hurricane-force winds, including… more »

 


Long-Term Sea Level Rise in Washington, D.C. Could Have Significant Impact

 

 


November 1, 2012 — The U.S. capital is likely to face flooding and infrastructure damage in both the short- and long-term brought about by sea level rise (SLR), current trends and predicted increases suggest. The rise … > full story

 

Dust’s warming counters half of its cooling effect
(October 31, 2012) — Dust that routinely rises above the world’s deserts causes a more significant localized warming effect than previously thought, a new study based on NASA field research shows. … > full story

 

Uncertainty of future South Pacific Island rainfall explained
(October 28, 2012) — With greenhouse warming, rainfall in the South Pacific islands will depend on two competing effects — an increase due to overall warming and a decrease due to changes in atmospheric water transport — according to a new study. In the South Pacific these two effects sometimes cancel each other out, resulting in highly uncertain rainfall projections. … > full story

 

This Region Could See a 30 Percent Increase in Precipitation by 2100: STOP SAYING THAT!

Posted: 31 Oct 2012 11:11 AM PDT Shaun Martin, WWF-US

It’s Monday morning, October 29, 2012. Hurricane Sandy is strengthening as she approaches the US east coast. In Washington, DC the US federal government is closed, public transport has ceased operations, and WWF staff […]

 


 

Hurricane Sandy on October 25, 2012, with winds of 90 mph and a pressure of 954 mbar

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ross Sea protection bid fails—for now

By Jamie Morton Friday Nov 2, 2012

Philippa Ross, the great-great-great-granddaughter of polar explorer Sir James Clarke Ross, has vowed to keep fighting “until the entire Ross Sea is safe from fishing”. Photo / Wayne Drought

A bid that would have safe-guarded the Ross Sea’s pristine eco-system with the world’s largest marine protected area has failed.

New Zealand and the United States had proposed a 2.27 million sq km reserve, including a 1.6 million sq km designated no-take zone, but the 25-nation Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) yesterday failed to agree to such a proposal during the final day at its 11-day conference in Hobart, which ended late last night.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Murray McCully told Radio New Zealand good progress had been made during the meeting, but more work was needed to convince some countries to back the compromise.”I’ve said consistently, in a response to some of the wild and woolly ideas that have been pushed around New Zealand politics, that getting 25 countries to agree to a marine protected zone in the Ross Sea was going to be a big ask – the real risk was that we’d get no agreement.”As it’s turned out we’ve seen New Zealand and the US come up with a proposal that I think will eventually get across the line but it’s going to take some work and there’s been a special meeting called for July next year during which we’ve got to try to get some countries that don’t share our views on conservation values in that region to join us on this thing.”…..

 

 

Hurricane Tracking in Peril The New York Times Editorial November 2, 2012

The capability of weather forecasters to predict the track of hurricanes with accuracy is at danger. The science allowing communities to prepare and evacuate could be lose because of mismanagement and federal budget cuts over the past decade. [NYT]


California will soon launch its cap-and-trade program

 

 


Center for Climate and Energy Solutions October 31, 2012

California will soon launch its cap-and-trade program, which uses a market-based mechanism to lower greenhouse gas emissions. California’s program will be second in size only to the European Union’s Emissions Trading System based on the amount of emissions covered. In addition to driving emission cuts in the ninth largest economy in the world, California’s program will provide critical experience in how an economy-wide cap-and-trade system can function in the United States. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted the state’s cap-and-trade rule on October 20, 2011, and will implement and enforce the program. The first compliance period will begin on January 1, 2013. The program places a greenhouse gas emission limit that will decrease by two percent each year through 2015, and by three percent annually from 2015 through 2020. See Figure 2 for a chart of the declining cap.

The cap-and-trade rules will first apply to electric power plants and large industrial plants that emit 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year or more. In 2015, the rules will also apply to fuel distributors (including distributors of heating and transportation fuels) that meet the 25,000 metric ton threshold, affecting around 360 businesses throughout California. The program will encompass nearly 85 percent of the state’s total emissions by 2015. Emission allowances will be distributed by a mix of free allocation and quarterly auctions.  The portion of emissions covered by free allowances will vary by industry, but generally will account for approximately 90 percent of a business’s overall emissions. The percentage of free allowances allocated to the businesses will decline over time. A business may also buy allowances from other entities that have reduced emissions below the amount of allowances held. These trades may be brokered through incorporated exchanges like the CME Group Incorporated (CME) and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).  Trades may also take place Over-the-Counter (OTC) or through bilateral transactions between buyers and sellers. The first California allowance auction is scheduled for November 14, 2012. This date will mark the beginning of the first greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program in the United States since the group of nine Northeastern states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a greenhouse gas cap and trade program for power plants held its first auction in 2008.

 

Insurance Companies Already Feeling Sandy’s Effects : NPR

October 30 2012 – … Agency have been recalculating how to insure homeowners due to climate change. … 

 

Watch: Television News Starts Covering The Link Between Climate Change And Superstorm Sandy

Posted: 31 Oct 2012 09:35 AM PDT Coverage of climate change from television news outlets has dropped precipitously since 2009. And during the lead-up and arrival of Superstorm Sandy, the climate connection to extreme weather was conspicuously absent.

But as broadcast journalists transition from tracking Superstorm Sandy to covering its aftermath, some television outlets are starting to explore the role of climate change in more detail. Starting yesterday afternoon, there was an increase in climate-related stories, with extensive segments appearing on Al Jazeera, Current TV, MSNBC, and NBC. (There were also a couple segments on Fox, both of which were used to raise doubts about climate science). Below are some of the top pieces covering the link between a warming planet and extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy. NBC News science reporter Robert Bazell had a terrific piece on yesterday’s Nightly News called, “Dramatic weather patterns the ‘new normal’ “….

 

Local-State Clashes Grow During Oil And Gas Drilling Boom

Posted: 01 Nov 2012 06:54 AM PDT by Tom Kenworthy

Many parts of the nation are experiencing a boom that is unlocking large new reserves of oil and gas from shale formations. While this means an increase in domestic fuel production, it is also fostering a gusher of increasingly bitter fights among local authorities, state governments, energy companies, and landowners about who has the right to regulate where and how drilling occurs.

Spurred in large part by concerns over the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, citizens and local governments are mobilizing in support of bans or other restrictions on oil and gas drilling and, specifically, fracking.

Fracking—the high-pressure injection of water, chemicals, and sand to fracture underground rock formations and release trapped natural gas and oil—along with advances in horizontal drilling, has made it possible to develop extensive new fields of oil and gas around the United States. But the practice now used in an estimated 95 percent of U.S. oil and gas wells has elevated concerns about the health and safety of drilling, particularly in regard to those communities close to oil and gas developments.

As of late July “more than 200 municipalities in 15 states, including city councils, town boards, and county legislatures, have banned natural gas drilling that uses hydraulic fracturing,” according to OMB Watch, a nonprofit organization that follows the Office of Management and Budget. Some of these recent developments include:

 

 

 

Michael Bloomberg Endorses Obama, Citing Climate Change As Main Reason

By Stephen Lacey on Nov 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that climate change is his top consideration this election season. In a piece headlined, “A Vote for a President Who Will Lead on Climate Change,” the Mayor explains: “Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be – given this week’s devastation – should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action. But we can’t do it alone. We need leadership from the White House – and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants (an effort I have supported through my philanthropy), which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year.”…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

CA Dept of Fish and Game Climate College
CA Dept of Fish and Game Climate Change Resources

CA Dept of Fish and Game Climate College: Course Schedule and Materials

Below is a list of lectures and speakers for DFG’s Climate College 2012-2013. Lectures are open to anyone who is interested in participating, and will be recorded and posted for those unable to join on the day of the event. Click on each lecture below for more information on the speaker(s), reading materials, companion webinars, and additional registration information.

October 15, 2012- video: Climate 101; understanding the basics of climate science and what we can do about it. Speaker: Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, PRBO Conservation Science

Materials

A Quick Guide for Creating High-Quality Jobs through Restoration on National Forests
This guide from the Ecosystem Workforce Program at the University of Oregon provides techniques for increasing local economic benefit and job creation from restoration using existing authorities and programs.

Developing Socioeconomic Performance Measures for the Watershed Condition Framework
This report outlines strategies for developing new social and economic performance measures related to the Forest Service’s Watershed Condition Framework and restoration on public lands more generally. The proposed performance measures make use of data the Forest Service already collects, and “score cards” that allow local units and their partners to monitor progress in the areas of adaptive capacity, economic benefit, and social equity. We hope that this report will help the Forest Service and their partners develop local performance measures and monitoring frameworks to track the social and economic impacts of their efforts. Over time, we hope this report will also foster a national dialogue about how to measure social and economic outcomes of restoration on public lands.

 

WEBINAR November 5th— Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Symposium- 1- 4:30 PM PT

CA LCC and CDFG Climate College

The CA LCC is sponsoring a vulnerability assessment course held at Sacramento State University November 6-8, 2012.  The purpose of the course is to build upon the “Scanning the Conservation Horizon, A guide to Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment” by understanding the tools available and learning about examples of how to apply vulnerability assessments.  It is not intended to repeat the information in the guide because anyone can read it, but to take concepts and then get the participants to carry the discussion forward on what’s meaningful for them. It is set up as short lectures with lots of time for discussion and questions. There will be local case studies to use as examples on how to get past the assessment part and what to do with the information after that.  The course is highly sought after and most of the instructors were instrumental in writing the guide.  Instructors include Patty Glick; National Wildlife Federation, our own Sam Veloz; PRBO Conservation Science, Jeannie Hoffman; Ecoadapt, John Rozum; NOAA, and others.  A few slots are open.  For questions or to register contact Danielle_LaRock@fws.gov.

 

************************************************************************************************************
November 5th Symposium – access info for webinars below
The CA LCC and the DFG Climate College are working together to bring you a half day symposium on climate change from 1:00 – 4:30pm on Monday November 5th.
This symposium will be both in person and via webinar. If participating via webinar, you may log on at any time and access information is provided below.  Please RSVP if you plan to attend in person to Rebecca_Fris@fws.gov or if you are part of the DFG Climate College email Registrar@dfg.ca.gov. The symposium will take place at the CA LCC office on Sacramento State Campus, Modoc Hall in the Willow Room on the 1st floor. The webinars will be recorded and posted on CA LCC’s updated webpage for later viewing.


The DFG Climate College will kick off the event with a lecture from 1pm – 2pm followed by 3 additional talks on CA LCC projects.
For more information about the DFG Climate College and options for training certification please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/Climate_and_Energy/Climate_Change/Climate_College/
List of speakers:

 

 

WEBINAR – Federal Landscape Conservation Initiatives:
Wednesday, November 7, 2:00 – 3:30 pm, Eastern Time
National Program Managers from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Department of Defense will give an overview of their agency’s landscape conservation initiatives and discuss how they work with partners to conserve open space. This, as well as all webinars in the series, is open to all who wish to attend. Please contact Sara Comas (scomas@fs.fed.us) with comments, special accommodations, or to be added to the mailing list.
Scheduled speakers to include:
·         Doug Austen/ Ben Thatcher  USFWS:  Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

·         Kit Muller BLM:  Rapid Ecoregional Assessments, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

·         Nancy Natoli DOD:  Sustainable Ranges Initiative

·         Bruce Wight NRCS:  Landscape Conservation Initiatives

Please register in advance for this and future webinars.

 

 

 

 

On Monday, 24 June – Wednesday, 26 June 2013, AGU will host the Science Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The conference will bring together scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders to discuss Earth and space science challenges facing our society. The theme for the 2013 conference, Preparing for Our Future, will feature the following topics: Arctic, Climate Change, Energy, Oceans, Natural Hazards, Technology and Infrastructure. Communicating the important role of science in these subjects is vital to ensuring the continued investment in the research that supports our economy, public safety, and national security. An updated website will be coming soon with information on registration and poster abstract submissions. Be sure to continue to check the conference home page for updates. —-

 

The State of Climate Change Adaptation in the Great Lakes Region

EcoAdapt is pleased to announce the release of the synthesis report, The State of Climate Change Adaptation in the Great Lakes Region! This report is the result of our survey of freshwater resource managers, planners, and practitioners in the region who are tasked with the challenge of developing strategies to prepare for and respond to a changing climate.

 This synthesis provides:

To learn more about the State of Adaptation Program and to view the Great Lakes project page, visit our website.  Products generated from this project, including case studies, will be shared through another EcoAdapt program, the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE; www.cakex.org).

 

(Documentary) Shellshocked: Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves
Shellshocked: Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves, a documentary premiered Wednesday Oct 17th in New York, follows the rise and fall of the region’s oysters. While the film zooms in on the gloom and doom of the bivalve’s century-long plight, it doesn’t dwell there. Instead, Shellshocked delves into the efforts to bring oysters back to the Hudson. Scientists recently declared the wild oyster reef as the most severely impacted marine habitat on earth, and an estimated 85% of natural beds worldwide have disappeared.

 

Virginia: Company Launches Funding Platform for Environmental Restoration & EducationProjects
 
Ahyayha, Inc. announces today the launch of its website platform for funding environmental restoration and education projects. Its micro-finance model serves relatively small scale projects and provides a third way to fund ecosystem restoration – engaging individuals, businesses and organizations to fund and complete tangible projects.

FOR CHILDREN:

**Environmental/Climate Change Music & Performance for Kids– Jeff Kagan & Paige Doughty

CDs & Music [my family loves this music!]

** The Charcoal Forest: How Fire Helps Animals & Plants

on the importance of burned forests—by a former PRBO seasonal biologist!

 

 

 

Scientists Build the First All-Carbon Solar Cell

ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2012)Stanford University scientists have built the first solar cell made entirely of carbon, a promising alternative to the expensive materials used in photovoltaic devices today. The results are published in the Oct. 31 online edition of the journal ACS Nano. “Carbon has the potential to deliver high performance at a low cost,” said study senior author Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a working solar cell that has all of the components made of carbon. This study builds on previous work done in our lab.” Unlike rigid silicon solar panels that adorn many rooftops, Stanford’s thin film prototype is made of carbon materials that can be coated from solution. “Perhaps in the future we can look at alternative markets where flexible carbon solar cells are coated on the surface of buildings, on windows or on cars to generate electricity,” Bao said.

The coating technique also has the potential to reduce manufacturing costs, said Stanford graduate student Michael Vosgueritchian, co-lead author of the study with postdoctoral researcher Marc Ramuz. “Processing silicon-based solar cells requires a lot of steps,” Vosgueritchian explained. “But our entire device can be built using simple coating methods that don’t require expensive tools and machines.”

 

A Wireless Charging Solution for the Leaf and Volt

By JIM MOTAVALLI October 30, 2012, NY Times

Beginning in March, Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf owners will have the option of an aftermarket wireless charging solution for their cars. Wireless company Evatran, which makes chargers under the Plugless Power brand name, will shortly announce a partnership with SPX Service Solutions, an official charging supplier for the Chevrolet Volt, to provide residential installations.

Wireless chargers use a transmitter located in a parking space or garage floor that connects to a receiver mounted under the car. Precise positioning is important — wireless charging works best when transmitter and receiver are six inches or less apart. Rebecca Hough, chief operating officer of Evatran, said in an interview that its aftermarket residential chargers will operate at approximately 90 percent efficiency, though she said that units now being developed with automakers may be a few percentage points better than that.

“A lot of our customers have been asking for this kind of wireless solution,” Ms. Hough said. “It’s a premium offering, aimed at people in the top 10 to 20 percent of the E.V. market who are looking for a more convenient charging option. We compare it to the automatic garage door opener. Over time, it will become something that people will demand.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global Warming and Visions of a Sustainable Planet

Expanding Our Moral Imagination- We live in a culture of denial, especially about the grim reality of climate change. Sure, we want to savor the occasional shrimp cocktail without having to brood about ruined mangroves, but we can’t solve a problem we can’t face.

By Mary Pipher Sept-Oct 2012 Psychotherapy Networker Magazine I don’t like to think about global environmental problems, and neither do you. Yet we can’t deal with problems we can’t face. Isak Dinesen wrote, “All sorrows can be borne if put into a story.” Here’s my story. In the cataclysmic summer of 2010, I experienced what environmentalists call the “‘Oh shit!’ moment.” At that time, the earth was experiencing its warmest decade, its warmest year, and the warmest April, May, and June on record. In 2010, Pakistan hit its record high (129 degrees), as did Russia (111 degrees). For the first time in memory, lightning ignited fires in the peat bogs of Russia, and these fires spread to the wheat fields further south. As doctors from Moscow rode to the rescue of heat and smoke victims, they fainted in their non-air-conditioned ambulances. In July, the heat index in my town, Lincoln, Nebraska, reached 115 degrees for several days in a row. Our planet and all living beings seemed to be gasping for breath. That same month, I read Bill McKibben’s Eaarth, in which he argues that our familiar Earth has vanished and that we now live on a new planet, Eaarth, with a rapidly changing ecology. He writes that without immediate action, our accustomed ways of life will disappear, not in our grandchildren’s adulthoods, but in the lifetimes of middle-aged people alive today. We don’t have 50 years to save our environment; we have the next decade. Nothing I’d previously read about the environment could quite prepare me for the bleakness of Eaarth. I couldn’t stop reading, and, when I finished it, I felt shell-shocked. For a few days, all I could experience was despair. Everything felt so hopeless and so finite. During this time, my grandchildren came to visit……What pulled me out of my despair was the desire to get to work. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I felt unqualified for virtually everything involving the environment, but I knew I had to do something to help. It was unclear how much my action would benefit the world, but I knew it would help me. I’ve never been able to tolerate stewing in my own anxiety. Action has always been my healing tonic…..

 

 

Couple of weekly portions of oily fish can help ward off stroke; But fish oil supplements don’t have the same effect, study finds
(October 30, 2012) — Eating at least two servings of oily fish a week is moderately but significantly associated with a reduced risk of stroke, finds a new study. … > full story

Common food preservative may slow, even stop tumor growth
(October 30, 2012) — Nisin, a common food preservative, may slow or stop squamous cell head and neck cancers, a new study found. … > full story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandy’s destruction from the Air — November 1, 2012

http://www.sfgate.com/news/slideshow/Sandy-s-destruction-from-the-air-51675.php#photo-3675017

 

 

A group of climate change activists braved the calm before the storm on Sunday afternoon (Oct 28, 2012) to rally in New York City’s Times Square. Leading environmental activist organization 350.org organized the event, “Connect the Dots between Extreme Weather and Climate Change,” in less than 48 hours, according to Phil Aroneanu, the group’s co-founder and U.S. campaign director. [Huffington Post]

Photo: Adam Welz

 

View NOAA’s aerial photos of Hurricane Sandy damage November 1, 2012

Emergency responders and members of the public can now get a birds-eye view of some of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy.Through NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey website, visitors can view a map of the region and click on an icon to view a thumbnail or high-definition image of a specific area. Images are now available for some of the Northeast’s hardest-hit areas, including Atlantic City, NJ., Seaside Heights, N.J., Ocean City, Md., and parts of Delaware: http://storms.ngs.noaa.gov/storms/sandy/.

 

Photos from the New York Times:

 

Tom Mihalek/Reuters

 

Lucas Jackson/Reuters
Librado Romero/The New York Times

Steve Helber/Associated Press

 


Floodwaters inundate Ground Zero construction site in NYC (AP)

 

 

 

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