Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Healthy Dousing: 2 Waves of Significant Rain (sloppy mix next Tuesday?)

59 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
61 F. average high on April 22.
44 F. high on April 22, 2013.

.95" rain predicted for MSP by Thursday night (NAM model).

38-45 F. highs much of next week. ECMWF model.



A Healthy Dousing

The nagging, perpetual, slow-motion drought that has plagued many counties of Minnesota in recent years finally shows signs of easing. NOAA expects the drought designation to be lifted in coming weeks, and gazing at the current pattern that's not hard to believe.

We've had a few warm blips (Easter Sunday was a balm for the senses) but overall a cool bias is forecast to linger into May. This, in turn, increases temperature contrasts over the lower 48 states, whipping up stronger storms, capable of pulling moisture north from the Gulf of Mexico.

Another factor: El Nino, forecast to kick in by summer, which also tends to favor cooler and wetter weather. With any luck meteorologists won't be dragging around the D-word (drought) much longer.
NAM model guidance shows 1-2 inches of rain from today into Thursday as a slow-moving storm approaches. By the weekend you may be able to actually hear your lime-green lawn growing.

Latest ECMWF guidance shows another wave of moisture moving in with more rain, heavy at times, from Saturday night into Monday, possibly ending as a mix of rain and wet snow by Tuesday of next week. Don't pack away the jackets - it looks like a string of 40-degree highs shaping up for next week as spring loses its bounce once again

Yes, it's been a challenging 5 months to be a weather-guy.

Tortured Spring: The Sequel. God-willing we won't have a rerun of April, 2013, when 18" of snow delighted residents of the Twin Cities, with heavy snow spilling over into the first week of May. But after blipping upward Friday and Saturday ECMWF guidance shows a chilly spell much of next week with a string of days in the upper 30s to mid 40s; as much as 20F colder than average. Rain Sunday and Monday may end as a mix by Tuesday. I'm calling in sick that day. Graphics: Weatherspark.

Waves of Rain. GFS guidance shows heavy showers and a few T-storms pushing across the Midwest later today and Thursday; a second storm spinning up over the Midwest, Great Lakes and Ohio Valley late in the weekend and early next week. California is still too dry, but much of America east of the Rockies will see plenty of rain in the coming days.

April Drenching. Some 3-4" rains are predicted from Omaha to near Des Moines over the next 5 days, with over 1" of rain by Sunday evening for much of Minnesota. The Pacific Northwest sees soaking 2-5" rains capable of flash flooding. Source: NOAA HPC.

Severe Risk. NOAA SPC predicts a "slight risk" of severe storms from near Lincoln southward to Oklahoma City, Midland and Wichita Falls, Texas later today, including a few isolated tornadoes.

Looking Up In May? NOAA's CFS (Climate Forecast System) model predicts sustained 60s and 70s as we head into May. I hope the model is on the right track. We'll see.

Slowest Start To U.S. Tornado Season On Record. It's a little premature to get too complacent about a lack of major tornado outbreaks (93 so far nationwide, less than a quarter of "average", to date). That's the topic of today's edition of Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over this years tornado stats. So far, we've been extremely lucky to see only 93 tornadoes. But in all things weather, it can change on a dime. Peak tornado months are May followed closely by June. So don't write off tornado season yet, this could be just the beginning."

Quietest Start To Tornado Season In 60+ Years? So says NOAA SPC. Details from the Storm Prediction Center here.

Experts: Civilians Not Ready For EMP-Caused Blackout. No kidding. Watchdog.org has the details; here's the introduction: "The catastrophic effects of an electromagnetic pulse-caused blackout could be preventable, but experts warn the civilian world is still not ready. Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both congressional advisory boards, said the technology to avoid disaster from electromagnetic pulses exists, and upgrading the nation’s electrical grid is financially viable. “The problem is not the technology,” Pry said. “We know how to protect against it. It’s not the money, it doesn’t cost that much. The problem is the politics. It always seems to be the politics that gets in the way....”

Photo credit above: Wikipedia. "They're Testing: The government testing electromagnetic pulses uses a simulator hanging over an airborne command post."

Space Weather Prediction Center. Here is NOAA SWPC's new (beta) web site with a host of resources and tracking tools to keep an eye on the greatest potential source of dangerous EMP-like CME's or coronal mass ejections, capable of bringing down communication systems and portions of the grid.

Waste of Space. 135 million pieces of space junk? The amount of garbage hurtling around the Earth is almost incomprehensible. If this keeps up we may resemble Saturn before long. Here's a clip from Foreign Policy: "...There are some pertinent facts about space debris that demonstrate the pressing danger. Roughly three-quarters of all space debris -- 23,000 items over 10 centimeters across, 300,000 measuring between 1 and 10 centimeters, and over 135,000,000 fragments less than 1 centimeter -- is presently found in low earth orbit (LEO), the area extending from 99 to 1,200 miles above the Earth. Traveling at an average speed of 18,000 miles per hour, even small pieces of debris can damage or destroy satellites and spacecraft..."

The Brain Injury That Made Me A Math Genius. Amazing, but apparently true. Salon has the remarkable story - here's a clip: "...Because of a traumatic brain injury, the result of a brutal physical attack, I’ve been able to see these patterns for over a decade. This change in my perception was really a change in my brain function, the result of the injury and the extraordinary and mostly positive way my brain healed. All of a sudden, the patterns were just . . . there, and I realize now that my injury was a rare gift. I’m lucky to have survived, but for me, the real miracle—what really saved me—was being introduced to and almost overwhelmed by the mathematical grace of the universe..."

Does The Moon Influence Human Behavior? Some new research is emerging that suggests the answer is yes - staring with our sleep habits. Here's an excerpt from a long but excellent story at Aeon: "...When volunteers in their study, whether old or young, stayed in the lab during the three or four days around the full moon, they spent five minutes longer trying to fall asleep than those who stayed in the lab during other times of the lunar month. Their full-moon sleep was 20 minutes shorter, they felt less rested, and slept 30 per cent less deeply than those who visited the lab during other times. They couldn’t see the Moon, and the researchers hadn’t even noted the Moon phase at the time..."

Which Cities Sleep In, And Which Get To Work Early? Here's a clip from Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight: "...How much do American cities differ in when they begin work? The Census Bureau collects data on this through the American Community Survey. This data isn’t especially user-friendly, but I figured out the median time Americans begin their workday in each metro area. All the figures that I’ll describe here refer to the location of work — not the location of residence for the workers — since some Americans commute between metro areas for their jobs..."



TODAY: Windy with rain, thunder risk. Winds: SE 15-30. High: 53
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Periods of rain, heavy at times. Low: 43
THURSDAY: Heavy rain. Spotty street flooding? High: 56
FRIDAY: Some sun, drying out. Wake-up: 45. High: 62
SATURDAY: Clouds increase, showers and T-storms possible late: 41. High: near 60
SUNDAY: Cloudy and soggy with periods of rain. Wake-up: 46. High: 53
MONDAY: Chilly with a chance of a cold rain. High: 46
TUESDAY: Rain may mix with a little wet snow before tapering. Wake-up: 34. High: 41


Climate Stories....

Preparing The U.S. Military For The "Threat Multiplier" Of Climate Change. Here's a snippet from a story at Stars and Stripes that caught my eye: "...Climate change worsens the divide between haves and have-nots, hitting the poor the hardest. It can also drive up food prices and spawn mega-disasters, creating refugees and taxing the resiliency of governments. When a threat like that comes along, it's impossible to ignore. Especially if your job is national security. In a recent interview with the blog Responding to Climate Change, retired Army Brig. Gen. Chris King laid out the military's thinking on climate change: "This is like getting embroiled in a war that lasts 100 years. 
That's the scariest thing for us. There is no exit strategy that is available for many of the problems...."

Photo credit above: "An F/A-18 from the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron is fueled with a 50-50 blend of biofuel and jet fuel. Experimenting with biofuels is part of the military's push to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels." Kiona Miller - U.S. Navy.

Interactive Map Shows How The U.S. Has Warmed Since The First Earth Day. Mashable has the article and interactive graphic - here's a clipper: "Since the very first Earth Day was celebrated in the United States in 1970, average temperatures across the U.S. have increased markedly. A new interactive graphic from Climate Central, a nonprofit research and journalism organization, shows a state-by-state breakdown of those temperature trends. According to Climate Central, average temperatures in the lower 48 states have increased at a rate of about 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit per decade..."

"Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can not eat money." - Costa Rican saying

NOAA Releases Arctic Action Plan. Details from NOAA: "Earlier this year, President Obama released a plan for moving forward on his national strategy to advance U.S. security and stewardship interests in the Arctic. Today, in keeping with the goals and tenets of his strategy, NOAA unveils its Arctic Action Plan—a document that provides NOAA scientists, stakeholders and partners a roadmap to make shared progress in monitoring, understanding, and protecting this vast, valuable, and vulnerable region. Climate change is making the Arctic a greener, warmer, and increasingly accessible place for economic opportunity. However, climate impacts such as sea ice loss and rising ocean acidification are straining coastal community resilience and sound resource stewardship. Impacts are also being studied outside the Arctic, as NOAA scientists and colleagues work to better understand the region’s influence on global weather and climate patterns..."

Ancient Tundra Discovered Under Greenland Ice Sheet. Extreme melting is leading to some interesting discoveries, under the ice. Here's a video clip and explanation from The Wall Street Journal: "A team of scientists have found organic soil that has been frozen to the bottom of the Greenland Ice Sheet for 2.7 million years, providing strong evidence that the ice sheet has survived many periods of global warming." WSJ's Niki Blasina reports. Photo: Joshua Brown, University of Vermont.

Column: Get Past Fake Debate On Global Warming. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The Wasau Daily Herald: "... It is obvious now that no amount of scientific evidence and no degree of consensus among climate experts can shake the true denialist. It’s as if there are two parallel universes. For the denialists there is the universe created by Fox News and the Heartland Institute, and news from that world is reported Charles Krauthammer, Rush Limbaugh, and many others. In this world climate models don’t work, global warming has stopped, but if there is warming it is from natural causes, there is no scientific consensus, but if there is, tens of thousands of scientists from different countries and diverse fields are all conspiring together to create the greatest hoax the world has ever seen..."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Earth Day 2014 - How Going Green Can Put More Green Back in your Wallet

68 F. high on Monday in the Twin Cities.
61 F. average high on April 21.
51 F. high on April 21, 2013.

.20" rain fell early Monday; scattered thundershowers reported across the metro area.





Saving Green

We're all environmentalists - some of us just don't know it yet. On Earth Day 2014 America's air and water is dramatically cleaner than it was 40 years ago. But greenhouse gases continue to spike at an alarming rate, worldwide.

Who cares? As I gently remind my friends on the right: conservatism shouldn't be a la carte. It should apply to the very thing that sustains us, the amazing gift we've been loaned. We're all stewards of God's Creation.

I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't like to save money. Skeptics may perk up when they realize clean energy options will eventually put more green in their wallets. Solar power is catching on as innovation causes prices to fall dramatically, but that's just the beginning.

Last year I traded in 2 gas-powered cars for a Tesla Model S, an all electric vehicle that I charge up every night in my garage. It has a range of 200 miles and is continually connected to the Internet, allowing streaming media on a super-sized iPad-like center console. Software upgrades are sent automatically, making it the rough equivalent of an iPhone on wheels. I'm a car nut, and I can safely say this is the most fun I've had in a vehicle in 40 years. The best part: I'm saving $600/year on insurance and my electricity rates have yet to blip upward. The dream is to drive for free, powered by the sun. Some day soon.

Enjoy a flawless blue sky today. A free lawn watering is still on tap for late Wednesday and Thursday; maybe half an inch of water for your garden. Clouds thicken Saturday; a cold rain reaches southern Minnesota Sunday, but the storm track may keep moisture just south of MSP early next week. The risk of slush next Monday has diminished just a bit.

Insert deep sigh here.

Cooling Trend. After peaking in the upper 50s to near 60F Tuesday afternoon temperatures drop off into the 40s to near 50F, according to ECMWF guuidance. The best chance of rain comes late Wednesday into Thursday; drier air pushing in for Friday and Saturday. Latest guidance keeps most of the moisture to our south Sunday and Monday; a very slow warming trend set for next week. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Future Radar. NOAA's 12km NAM guidance shows heavy showers and a few embedded T-storms pushing across the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes as the eastern USA dries out; waves of moderate to heavy rain sweeping into the Pacific Northwest. 84-hour loop: HAMweather.

7-Day Rainfall Amounts. As much as 5" of rain may soak the Pacific Northwest over the next week as a series of impulses push inland. Heavy showers and T-storms may drop some 2-3" amounts from near Kansas City to Little Rock, with as much as 1" for portions of southern MInnesota Wednesday and Thursday. Source: NOAA.

Burning Restrictions In Effect For All of Minnesota. Until we get to statewide spring green-up conditions will remain ripe for spotty brushfires. Here's a video and story excerpt from northlandsnewscenter.com: "In a quicker than anticipated time frame, burning permit restrictions for Minnesota now cover the entire state. According to the Minnesota DNR, burning permits are now required for anyone in the state wanting to burn small amounts of dry leaves, plant clippings, brush, and untreated, unpainted wood as long as weather conditions do not pose an immediate fire hazard..."


Slowest Start To U.S. Tornado Season On Record. It's a little premature to get too complacent about a lack of major tornado outbreaks (93 so far nationwide, less than a quarter of "average", to date). That's the topic of today's edition of Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over this years tornado stats. So far, we've been extremely lucky to see only 93 tornadoes. But in all things weather, it can change on a dime. Peak tornado months are May followed closely by June. So don't write off tornado season yet, this could be just the beginning."

Quietest Start To Tornado Season In 60+ Years? So says NOAA SPC. Details from the Storm Prediction Center here.

Experts: Civilians Not Ready For EMP-Caused Blackout. No kidding. Watchdog.org has the details; here's the introduction: "The catastrophic effects of an electromagnetic pulse-caused blackout could be preventable, but experts warn the civilian world is still not ready. Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both congressional advisory boards, said the technology to avoid disaster from electromagnetic pulses exists, and upgrading the nation’s electrical grid is financially viable. “The problem is not the technology,” Pry said. “We know how to protect against it. It’s not the money, it doesn’t cost that much. The problem is the politics. It always seems to be the politics that gets in the way....”

Photo credit above: Wikipedia. "They're Testing: The government testing electromagnetic pulses uses a simulator hanging over an airborne command post."

Space Weather Prediction Center. Here is NOAA SWPC's new (beta) web site with a host of resources and tracking tools to keep an eye on the greatest potential source of dangerous EMP-like CME's or coronal mass ejections, capable of bringing down communication systems and portions of the grid.

"Fukushima Radiation Killing Our Children, Government Hides Truth, Says Former Mayor" Not sure what to make of this one, but the fact that authorities are telling locals that it's safe to come home seems questionable, under the circumstances. Another Chernobyl? I sure hope that's just an exaggeration. Here's a clip from RT.com: "...According to Idogawa there are about two million people residing in the prefecture who are reporting “all sorts of medical issues,” but the government insists these conditions are unrelated to the Fukushima accident. Idogawa wants their denial in writing. “I demanded that the authorities substantiate their claim in writing but they ignored my request.” Once again, Idogawa alludes to the nuclear tragedy that hit Ukraine on April 26, 1986, pleading that the Japanese people “never forget Chernobyl.” Yet few people seem to be heeding the former government official’s warning. “They believe what the government says, while in reality radiation is still there. This is killing children. They die of heart conditions, asthma, leukemia, thyroiditis… Lots of kids are extremely exhausted after school; others are simply unable to attend PE classes. But the authorities still hide the truth from us, and I don’t know why...."

Poll: Big Bang A Question For Most Americans. Here's an excerpt of a story from Associated Press: "...On some, there's broad acceptance. Just 4 percent doubt that smoking causes cancer, 6 percent question whether mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain and 8 percent are skeptical there's a genetic code inside our cells. More — 15 percent — have doubts about the safety and efficacy of childhood vaccines. About 4 in 10 say they are not too confident or outright disbelieve that the Earth is warming, mostly a result of man-made heat-trapping gases, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or that life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection, though most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts. But a narrow majority — 51 percent — questions the Big Bang theory...."

Image credit here.

The Brain Injury That Made Me A Math Genius. Amazing, but apparently true. Salon has the remarkable story - here's a clip: "...Because of a traumatic brain injury, the result of a brutal physical attack, I’ve been able to see these patterns for over a decade. This change in my perception was really a change in my brain function, the result of the injury and the extraordinary and mostly positive way my brain healed. All of a sudden, the patterns were just . . . there, and I realize now that my injury was a rare gift. I’m lucky to have survived, but for me, the real miracle—what really saved me—was being introduced to and almost overwhelmed by the mathematical grace of the universe..."


TODAY: Sunny, still mosquito-free. Winds: NW 10. High: near 60
TUESDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase. Low: 43
WEDNESDAY: Showers arrive, windy. SE 15-25. High: near 50
THURSDAY: Rain, heavy at times. Raw and very soggy. Wake-up: 45. High: 48
FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, few sprinkles. Wake-up: 40. High: 49
SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, cool. Wake-up: 35. High: 51
SUNDAY: Cold rain far southern Minnesota. Wake-up: 39
MONDAY: Patchy clouds, few sprinkles. Wake-up: 34. High: 45

* lone boat on the water courtesy of WeatherNation TV meteorologist Todd Nelson, who snapped this photo at Maynards in Excelsior as the ice was coming off Lake Minnetonka Monday morning.

Climate Stories....

"Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can not eat money." - Costa Rican saying

NOAA Releases Arctic Action Plan. Details from NOAA: "Earlier this year, President Obama released a plan for moving forward on his national strategy to advance U.S. security and stewardship interests in the Arctic. Today, in keeping with the goals and tenets of his strategy, NOAA unveils its Arctic Action Plan—a document that provides NOAA scientists, stakeholders and partners a roadmap to make shared progress in monitoring, understanding, and protecting this vast, valuable, and vulnerable region. Climate change is making the Arctic a greener, warmer, and increasingly accessible place for economic opportunity. However, climate impacts such as sea ice loss and rising ocean acidification are straining coastal community resilience and sound resource stewardship. Impacts are also being studied outside the Arctic, as NOAA scientists and colleagues work to better understand the region’s influence on global weather and climate patterns..."

Ancient Tundra Discovered Under Greenland Ice Sheet. Extreme melting is leading to some interesting discoveries, under the ice. Here's a video clip and explanation from The Wall Street Journal: "A team of scientists have found organic soil that has been frozen to the bottom of the Greenland Ice Sheet for 2.7 million years, providing strong evidence that the ice sheet has survived many periods of global warming." WSJ's Niki Blasina reports. Photo: Joshua Brown, University of Vermont.

Column: Get Past Fake Debate On Global Warming. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The Wasau Daily Herald: "... It is obvious now that no amount of scientific evidence and no degree of consensus among climate experts can shake the true denialist. It’s as if there are two parallel universes. For the denialists there is the universe created by Fox News and the Heartland Institute, and news from that world is reported Charles Krauthammer, Rush Limbaugh, and many others. In this world climate models don’t work, global warming has stopped, but if there is warming it is from natural causes, there is no scientific consensus, but if there is, tens of thousands of scientists from different countries and diverse fields are all conspiring together to create the greatest hoax the world has ever seen..."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Minor Meteorological Miracle: Perfect Easter Sunday (slushy mix 1 week from today?)

74 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
60 F. average high on April 20.
42 F. high on April 20, 2013.

.10" rain fell Sunday.

60s today; temperatures may be 20-25F colder 1 week from today.



Minor Miracle

Yesterday was a WOW moment, an atmospheric daydream; a healing gift from on high. We set out the Adirondack chairs and reintroduced ourselves to dazed, long-lost neighbors. Our dog, Leo, took us on a nice long walk.

You could almost see lawns greening up before your eyes; no small feat after the winter we just experienced. Based on the WMI, the Winter Misery Index, which measures snow amounts and severity of cold it was the toughest winter in a generation. You have to go back to 1983-84 to find a more severe winter overall. Yes, we were due for a perfect spring day, and I'm glad it came on Easter Sunday.

Northwest winds pick up behind a cooler front today; upper 60s will make for a distractingly nice Monday. Showers return Wednesday with a potential for a soaking rain Thursday as a storm spins up nearby. Chilly exhaust on the backside of the storm keeps us in the 40s Saturday.

And then it gets interesting. ECMWF (European) model guidance shows a big storm passing to our south early next week. It's too early for specifics, but let's just say it's conceivable a cold rain Sunday might end as wet snow or a mix 1 week from today. No, I'm not kidding.

Keep the faith. 70s return by the first weekend of May.

Easter Sunday Highs. It was the warmest day so far in 2014, the warmest since October 11, 2013. Mid 70s for the immediate metro area; highs near 80F in southwest Minnesota under blue sky, light winds, and a still-bug-free airmass.

Cooling Down: Two Storms Next 8 Days. Today will be the last 60-degree day until the end of next week. We cool down into 40s by late week, potentially significant rain late Wednesday into Thursday. We dry out and chill down another notch Friday & Saturday before the next storm arrives with a cold rain Sunday, possibly ending as wet snow or a rain/snow mix 1 week from today. I hope the ECMWF is out to lunch too. Graphic: Weatherspark.

GFS Solution. Although not as aggressive (or ominous) as ECMWF guidance for early next week, NOAA's GFS model brings heavy showers into Minnesota by Wednesday; heavier/steadier rain possible Thursday, followed by a colder wind by late week. Ah, the joys of April. Model guidance: HAMweather.

Landscape "Transition Zones" May Influence Where Tornadoes Strike. I've heard anecdotal evidence of this for a few decades now, tornadoes following river valleys, or more prone to spin up in one area than another 10 miles away. Now there may be evidence that there's something to this. Here's a clip from at joplinstockyards.com: "Areas where landscape shifts from urban to rural or forest to farmland may have a higher likelihood of severe weather and tornado touchdowns, a Purdue University study says. An examination of more than 60 years of Indiana tornado climatology data from the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center showed that a majority of tornado touchdowns occurred near areas where dramatically different landscapes meet - for example, where a city fades into farmland or a forest meets a plain. Forecasters and city planners may need to pay closer attention to these "transition zones" to better understand tornado risk, said Olivia Kellner, doctoral student in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and first author of the study..."

Lowest Tornado Count, To Date, In 53 Years? NOAA SPC shows only 92 tornadoes as of April 19, on track with some of the least active tornado seasons on record in the USA. A symptom of the Polar Vortex and unusual chill much of March and early April? We'll see, but it's probably premature to write off tornado season at this early date.



TODAY: Sunny, breezy & pleasant. Winds: NW 15-20. High: 68
MONDAY NIGHT: Clear and chilly. Low: 38
TUESDAY: Blue sky, less wind. Cooler. High: 58
WEDNESDAY: Showers likely, possible thunder. Wake-up: 43. High: 54
THURSDAY: Soaking rain, heavy at times. Wake-up: 48. High: 49
FRIDAY: Windy & raw. Showers taper. Wake-up: 37. High: 47
SATURDAY: Some sun, showers at night. Wake-up: 35. High: near 50
SUNDAY: Periods of rain. Happy lawns. Wake-up: 39. High: 43


Climate Stories...

Conservative Heavyweights Have Solar Industry In Their Sights. Big Money and entrenched interests teaming up to prevent new and affordable choices on the energy front, namely zero-cost solar power? A proposed tax on the solar panels on your own roof? I'm shocked. Here's a clip from a story at the Los Angeles Times: "The political attack ad that ran recently in Arizona had some familiar hallmarks of the genre, including a greedy villain who hogged sweets for himself and made children cry. But the bad guy, in this case, wasn't a fat-cat lobbyist or someone's political opponent. He was a solar-energy consumer. Solar, once almost universally regarded as a virtuous, if perhaps over-hyped, energy alternative, has now grown big enough to have enemies..."

Judge Strikes Down Minnesota's Anti-Coal Energy Law. The Star Tribune has the story - here's a clip: "A federal judge on Friday struck down a landmark 2007 Minnesota law that bans new power generation from coal, saying it regulates business activities of out-of-state utilities in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause. U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson enjoined the state from enforcing key sections of the law, which North Dakota coal and utility interests said hampered their ability to find buyers for power from existing coal-fired generating plants or to plan for new ones...."

File photo: John Giles, AP.

Climate Changes Visible By ZIP Code With New Online Tools. The focus is on rising sea levels, with new resources becoming available that will help homeowners and business owners better quantify risk for their specific locations. USA Today has the story; here's an excerpt: "With the click of a computer mouse, the potential risks of rising sea levels will soon be searchable — by ZIP code — for all U.S. coastal communities. An online mapping tool will show how much sea levels are expected to rise in each area, as well as the number of residents and buildings that could be flooded. Initially launched in March 2012 for New York, New Jersey and Florida, it will expand to cover New England on Wednesday, the Pacific states later this spring and the rest of the coastal U.S. by the end of summer..."


Running Out Of Time. The New York Times ran an Op-Ed on the need to tackle this problem now, and not kick the can down the road for future generations to grapple with, when costs may be exponentially higher. Here's a clip: "...Avoiding that fate will require a reduction of between 40 percent and 70 percent in greenhouse gases by midcentury, which means embarking on a revolution in the way we produce and consume energy. That’s daunting enough, but here’s the key finding: The world has only about 15 years left in which to begin to bend the emissions curve downward. Otherwise, the costs of last-minute fixes will be overwhelming. “We cannot afford to lose another decade,” says Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the report. “If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization...”

Climate Change Demands Action. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The Baltimore Sun: "...Meanwhile, there are enormous dividends to be had from less consumption of fossil fuels — reducing air pollution and dependence on foreign oil. The United States even possesses a significant advantage in clean energy development through our tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship and the availability of natural gas, which can help smooth the transition. Make no mistake, the challenge is significant. The IPCC panel sticks to a goal of limiting global warming to just 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and considering that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise (growing 2.2 percent annually over the past decade compared to 1.3 percent annually the previous three decades), the mandate is to take decisive action now....
Setbacks Aside, Climate Change Is Finding Its Way Into The World's Classrooms. The New York Times reports; here's a clip: "...In the United States, new science standards drawn up by 26 states and scientists’ and teachers’ groups call for introducing climate change to students in middle school and exploring it in greater detail in high school. That has stirred opposition in states like Wyoming, a coal and oil producer. Lawmakers there last month blocked funding for the standards, saying teaching climate change could hurt the local economy. “A lot of science teachers essentially say, ‘This doesn’t feel like a very safe topic to teach. The science is conceptually difficult, and it’s controversial. I might get complaints from parents and it’s not part of my current curriculum, and so I’m not going to take it on,”’ said Charles Anderson, a professor of teacher education at Michigan State University, who advised on the new standards...
Why Climate Deniers Are Winning: The Twisted Psychology That Overwhelms Scientific Consensus. Debating the consensus and conspiracy ideation (if you believe 9-11 was an "inside job" or NASA faked the moon landings you're more likely to believe climate change is a hoax) takes center stage in this long, but excellent article. Here's a clip from a story at Salon: "...It’s a simple fact that your typical scientist already knows intuitively: Uncertainty grows with risk, exposure and potential loss, especially with complex nonlinear systems, like the global climate system. In fact, it’s not even possible to calculate how much damage could come from worst-case climate scenarios, as Working Group III lead co-author Christopher Field pointed out at the press conference for their report. The relationship between greater uncertainty and risk is both obvious to those in the know and invisible to those who aren’t. So it’s never been properly talked about — or even rigorously analyzed — until now..."