Thursday, June 2, 2011

Slight Severe Risk, Hot Friday, Fine Weekend (and why "climate change doesn't matter anymore")

* Massive tornado hits Springfield, Massachusetts on Wednesday (video below).
* Small potential for Tropical Storm Arlene in the Gulf of Mexico within the next 48 hours.
* Slight severe risk today (Red River Valley and central Minnesota).
* 85-90 F. on Friday, followed by a slight cooling trend over the weekend.
* Nice weekend? Sunshine should be the rule, 75-80 north, low 80s southern Minnesota, a drop in humidity.
* May recap: 3" wetter than average over parts of central Minnesota (details below).

* "Figuring in the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, global insured-disaster losses are also on record pace, having already passed $50 billion this year, according to insurance broker Aon Corp." - CBS Marketwatch article "More Misery In Cards As Hurricane Season Kicks In".

* “The country (USA) is two decades behind in taking action because both parties are in thrall to Big Oil and Big Coal,” says Sachs. “The airwaves are filled with corporate-financed climate misinformation.” - Newsweek article "Are You Ready For More?"

Thursday Severe Threat. SPC has much of central and northwestern Minnesota in a slight risk of severe weather today. A warm front lifting northward across the state will create favorable wind shear for a couple of isolated "supercell" thunderstorms. A severe storm watch may be issued later today, the best chance north/west of St. Cloud.

Tropical Storm Arlene? The storm NHC is tracking ("INVEST 93") is forecast by at least one of the models to strengthen to tropical storm force within 72 hours. That said, the vast majority of weather models weaken the storm over time. Stay tuned.

Florida Storm Originated As Missouri "MCS". AccuWeather details the chronology of a massive MCS that below up over Missouri - now off the coast of Florida - with a slight chance of developing into Tropical Storm Arlene in the coming 48-72 hours. Yes, it's all interconnected: "The storm system moving into eastern Florida from the northeast today (quite unusual) is the remnants of a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS: a large cluster of organized thunderstorms) that originated in Missouri on the morning of May 29th. Three days later, this is what it looks like approaching the state, when you overlay lightning strikes on top of the Enhanced Infrared Satellite via MapSpace."

"Recycled Storm". Check out this amazing loop to see how a cluster of severe storms over Missouri could wind up off the east coast of Florida days later.

Low Probability Event. There's only a 1 in 10 chance of this tropical wave intensifying into a tropical storm (too much wind shear aloft). Here's the latest from NHC:
DISORGANIZED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE FAR NORTHEASTERN
GULF OF MEXICO ARE ASSOCIATED WITH AN ELONGATED LOW PRESSURE AREA. 
SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS UNLIKELY AS ENVIRONMENTAL
CONDITIONS ARE NOT PARTICULARLY CONDUCIVE OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO. 
THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A
TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES
WEST-SOUTHWESTWARD AT 25 MPH.

More Misery In Cards As Hurricane Season Kicks In. Marketwatch has the update: "NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Americans have endured more than enough dangerous weather over the past several months: huge snowstorms, massive Mississippi River flooding, the worst drought since the Dust Bowl, and a devastating tornado season that’s still on record pace. What else could possibly happen? Well, hurricane season officially starts tomorrow in the Atlantic. And the potential risks extend beyond those people living in the path of storms to businesses and investors everywhere. Already, the combined economic toll from extreme weather in the United States is conservatively set at $15 billion . The tornado outbreak last week spanned half of the country with hundreds of reports from Joplin, Mo., to Pennsylvania, leaving more than 138 dead and an estimated $3 billion in damage in Joplin alone. See slide show for pictures of the Joplin, Mo., destruction . Even adjusting for inflation, this makes Joplin the most expensive and most deadly tornado since modern record keeping began in 1950. See Market Pulse item on damage costs in Joplin, Mo ."

End To "Hurricane Drought" Forecast In 2011. AOPA Online has the story: "When a year starts with heavy snows, then moves on to a spring of killer tornadoes and historic flooding, it takes fortitude—with hurricane season coming—to ask what’s next. For those who dare inquire, Weather Services International of Andover, Mass., offers an answer. In a statement issued May 25, WSI forecast an “active-normal” hurricane season, with the Gulf Coast “under the greatest threat” from the storms making landfall. “WSI predicts 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and four intense hurricanes (category 3 or greater). These 2011 forecast numbers are above the long-term (1950-2010) averages of 12 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three intense hurricanes and match the averages from the more active recent period (1995-2010),” said WSI in a news release. What Todd Crawford, WSI’s chief meteorologist described as a “hurricane drought in 2009-2010” that was “relatively rare in the historical record” will end, he said, making this year’s hurricane season “much more impactful” along the coastline. The primary reason for that expectation is that the warm temperatures of Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean waters make storms likely to form there—and those storms are more likely to make landfall in the U.S. than are storms that originate off the west coast of Africa. During the so-called hurricane drought, a persistent trough in the western Atlantic protected the U.S. coast, but Crawford does not expect that phenomenon to redevelop this year."

Hurricane Season Starts Today. Forecast: Warmer Seas Could Generate More Tropical Storms. Highlands Today has more details: "SEBRING - With 525 fatalities, 2011 has turned out to be one of the deadliest tornado seasons since 1953. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Colorado State University have predicted that 2011 may be a more active hurricane season, as well. Is there a connection? "I don't see a correlation between tornado and hurricane seasons," said Channel 8 weather forecaster Steve Jerve. "It's easy to want to try to link weather events together." Some attribute tsunamis and earthquakes with weather events. Not so, says Jerve, who is certified by the American Meteorological Society and has been forecasting Florida weather for 28 years. "I have heard that cool Pacific waters are contributing to cooler temperatures, and thus affecting the jet stream that pushes this cool air up against warm and humid air in the Plains, Midwest and South," Jerve said. But, he reminded, April and May are always tornado months. "It's extreme this year, but similar weather has occurred in the past," he said. The difference is that in the media age, we have more storm chasers to pass along information, larger cities to be hit by tornadoes, and more media to cover the human stories. Jerve said Florida is in a weakening La Niña phase this storm season, and in a neutral phase between El Niño, which, historically, means cooler water and more hurricanes. "Any effect from either La Niña or El Niño will be minimal this year," Jerve said. "Our more active season that is forecast by NOAA, Colorado State University and others, is largely due to the 25- to 30-year cycle of ocean heat transfer." Those 2 to 3 degrees Celsius warmer sea surface temperatures put the Atlantic in a more active cycle that started in 1995."

FEMA: Are You Ready? Plan, Prepare For Hurricane Season. Some useful advice for the 75 million plus U.S. residents of "hurricane alley" from FEMA: "June 1 marks the start of another hurricane season in the United States, even as the recovery from the historic tornado outbreaks continues in the southeast. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has estimated six to 10 hurricanes this season, with three to six of those expected to be Category 3 or above. FEMA is prepared to respond to the needs of states in hurricane-prone areas, but any federal response needs to be paired with citizen preparedness— in businesses and at home.  “You can’t know far ahead of time when it will be your community in the path of a hurricane. If you wait until the storm is bearing down on you, you may forget important things,” said FEMA Regional Administrator Phil May.  “Plan ahead, stay safe and stay informed.” Being prepared makes a big difference in disasters, but it doesn’t have to come at a big cost.  A quick look around your house or apartment can get you almost everything you need to build an emergency supply kit, which should include three days of food and water, prescription medication, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, spare batteries, first aid kit, can opener, local maps, moist towelettes, toilet paper, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation. A complete list of recommended items for an emergency supply kit can be found at www.ready.gov, FEMA’s emergency preparedness website.  Having the proper supplies early in a disaster is vital, but so is having a communication plan to stay in touch with family members. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency. You should also share your evacuation plans, so others know that you are out of harm’s way.  Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government, such as shelters and evacuation routes.  Have different sources of information in case one is not working- don’t rely on just TV, radio, or the internet. A smartphone can be a great resource as well.  FEMA’s mobile site, m.fema.gov, allows disaster survivors to apply for assistance, locate Disaster Recovery Centers and Red Cross shelters."



What Happened Inside The Hospital During The Joplin Tornado? KevinMD.com has the harrowing account of what really happened at St. John's Regional Medical Center on May 22, when it took a direct hit from an EF-5 tornado: Dr. Kevin Kikta was one of two emergency physicians on duty at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, MO on Sunday, May 22 when an EF-5 tornado struck the hospital. "You never know that it will be the most important day of your life until the day is over.  The day started like any other day for me: waking up, eating, going to the gym, showering, and going to my 4 pm ED shift. As I drove to the hospital, I mentally prepared for my shift as I always do, but nothing could ever have prepared me for what was going to happen on this shift. Things were normal for the first hour and half. At approximately 5:30 pm, we received a warning that a tornado had been spotted. Although I work in Joplin and went to medical school in Oklahoma, I live in New Jersey, and I have never seen or been in a tornado. I learned that a “code gray” was being called. We were to start bringing patients to safer spots within the ED and hospital. At 5:42 pm, a security guard yelled to everyone, “Take cover! We are about to get hit by a tornado!” While others scattered to various places, I ran with a pregnant RN, Shilo Cook, to the only place that I was familiar with in the hospital without windows — a small doctor’s office in the ED. Together, Shilo and I tremored and huddled under a desk.  We heard a loud horrifying sound like a large locomotive ripping through the hospital.  The whole hospital shook and vibrated as we heard glass shattering, light bulbs popping, walls collapsing, people screaming,  the ceiling caving in above us, and water pipes breaking, showering water down on everything."

- by Kevin J. Kikta, DO

Joplin To Produce More Waste Than World Trade Center Collapse. The scale of the damage and subsequent debris in Joplin is hard to imagine. The Atlantic Wire puts things into perspective: "Only a week and a half after the F5 tornado flattened Joplin, Missouri, residents are picking up their hammers and beginning to rebuild their homes. The scale of the disaster and, more importantly, the recovery efforts is also coming into focus. According to the Governor Jay Nixon, the cost of the logistically and environmentally delicate rebuilding of the town of 50,000 will cost "tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars," ninety percent of which will be paid for by the federal government. (They did the same for the deadly storms in Alabama this past April.) However, as reported by USA Today last week, the cost of this year's bad luck with nature stands to drain the Federal Emergency Management Agency of its rebuilding money. Without additional funding, "FEMA will have to stop recovery efforts in 50 states in the spring of 2012," Senator Mary Landrieu, head of the panel that oversees FEMA funds, wrote in a letter to her colleagues. The Environmental Protection Agency is also involved in the recovery. To put things into perspective, EPA spokesperson Chris Whitley told the Associated Press, "[With such a wide area hit] there are estimates that there will be more waste that will come from this that will need to be pulled away than there was at the World Trade Center site after 9-11."

Joplin Tornado: 8,000 Buildings Damaged, 18,000 Cars. KCCI-TV in Des Moines has the details: "Cleanup efforts in Joplin, Mo., are moving ahead Wednesday as crews began hauling away debris left by a massive tornado that leveled a third of the city and killed more than 100 people. Government officials said the rubble will be taken to three landfills -- two in Kansas and one in Lamar, Mo.Environmental officials have said the debris must be handled carefully because it could contain asbestos used in the construction of older buildings and other hazardous waste.The tornado damaged or destroyed more than 8,000 buildings.Nixon said the federal government will cover 90 percent of the cost of the debris removal. He says the Missouri National Guard will lead the cleanup effort.City officials estimated the tornado damaged or destroyed 18,000 vehicles. About 9,000 insurance claims for vehicles already have been filed, The Springfield News-Leader reported Wednesday."

Reconstruction Lifts Economy After Disaster. Yes, it's a grim way to get the economy humming again. The New York Times has the story: "The deadly tornadoes and widespread flooding that have left a trail of death and destruction throughout the South and the Midwest have also disrupted dozens of local economies just as the unsteady recovery seemed to be finding a foothold. But a new phase is slowly beginning in some hard-hit areas: reconstruction, which past disasters show is typically accompanied by a burst of new, and different, economic activity. There is no silver lining to a funnel cloud, as anyone who survived the tornadoes can attest, but reconstruction can help rebuild local economies as well as neighborhoods. More than a tenth of the businesses in Tuscaloosa, Ala., were badly damaged or destroyed in April when a tornado swept across a 5.9-mile stretch of the city, and nearly 6,000 Alabamians have filed storm-related claims for unemployment benefits. An even deadlier tornado laid waste to roughly a quarter of the businesses in Joplin, Mo., on May 22, wiping out some of the big-box stores the city relies on heavily for sales tax receipts. The flooding Mississippi River closed all nine riverboat casinos in Tunica, Miss., this spring, leaving 4,600 hotel rooms empty for weeks and depriving the county of so much tax revenue that it had to reduce its workers’ hours. But there are already stirrings of economic activity. Home Depot, whose store in Joplin was destroyed, began selling lumber and other supplies from a parking lot there on Tuesday as it prepared to open a 30,000-square-foot temporary store."

Springfield, Mass. Tornado. No, you don't expect to see large tornadoes in Massachusetts. This YouTube clip was taken using an Android phone. A tornado watch was in effect at the time, stretching all the way from Maine to southeastern Pennsylvania. Yes, it's very unusual to be tracking large tornadoes on the east coast. America's strange and violent spring continues...

4 Fatalities In Springfield. ABC News has the story - and some spectacular footage of the (huge) tornado that swept acrosss central Massachusetts. "Multiple tornadoes slammed Massachusetts, destroying buildings, flipping vehicles and leaving at least four people dead and dozens injured.The Massachusetts twisters hit as unstable weather threatened the entire Northeast, bringing tornado watches to Philadelphia, New York and Boston.The situation in western and central Massachusetts was so bad that Gov. Deval Patrick declared a statewide state of emergency, calling up 1,000 members of the National Guard. Two of the four fatalities in Massachusetts occurred in Westfield, and there was one each in West Springfield and Brimfield, officials said. Two tornado touchdowns were confirmed -- one in the Springfield area and a larger one in the Westfield area, Patrick said. ABC News Boston affiliate WCVB earlier reported additional tornadoes confirmed in the Massachusetts communities of Wilbraham, Monson and Oxford. Patrick said at least 19 Massachusetts communities were affected by the twisters."

More Weather Videos:
More before/after pix from Joplin:
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/05/27/us/joplin-panoramas.html

MI stormlapse yesterday:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bN6Wu4VpOzA&hd=1

MO river flooding in OMA... starts about 3:00:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY5d_F4epaI&hd=1

Dakota Dunes sandbagging SUX, IA/SD along MO river:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNmEi6KBOSQ&hd=1

Pierre, SD spillway:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vz4nmlMxMrs&hd=1

Update from Planalytics. I thought you might find some of this of interest, courtesy of the weather analysis firm, Planalytics.
Significant Weather Events: 
  • The month began with the coolest run-up week to Mother’s Day since 2005, suppressing seasonal demand.
  • A warm up occurred in week 2.  It was the warmest 2nd week of May since 2004, and the driest since 2007.  These warm and dry conditions resulted in favorable demand for Spring products, and also supported traffic into many locations, particularly in the East.
  • Week 3 experienced a flip to cool and wet conditions.  It was the coolest since 2002, and the wettest in over 18 years.
  • The final week of the month trended near normal, although cooler than LY.  A significant warm up in the East over the Memorial Day weekend supported demand for Spring and Summer apparel.
  • Over 350 tornados were reported in the month of May, including many which hit population centers such as Joplin, Missouri.  To date, the 2011 severe weather season has experienced the most fatalities since 1953.
  • Flooding was prevalent in May.  Several cities along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, including Memphis and Louisville, experienced flood waters near record levels. click for full report  

May Recap. Thanks to Minnesota State Climatologist Greg Spoden for providing these details. The full report is here.

- May 2011 precipitation totals were above average across most of Minnesota. Monthly rainfall totals were greater than five inches in many southwest, central, and east central Minnesota communities, topping the historical average by two or more inches. May rainfall totals fell short of the historical average by one-half inch to one inch in far north central and northeast Minnesota.  

- Severe storms were a dominant feature of the national weather picture during the month of May. Minnesota was not spared nature's fury as severe weather was reported throughout the month in many locations.

- Monthly mean temperatures for May 2011 were somewhat below average across Minnesota. It was the sixth consecutive month of below-average temperatures.

- Stream discharge values remain very high in nearly every major Minnesota watershed. River levels remain near or above flood stage at some locations along the Red River, and a few locales along the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers.

- The U. S. Drought Monitor depicts most of Cook County and much of Lake County as "Abnormally Dry".  Stream flow remains low in this area due to the lingering impact of precipitation deficits during the 2010 growing season and spotty rainfall thus far this spring.

May Rainfall Departure From Normal. Yes, it was a soggy month, the most significant rainfall over southwestern and central Minnesota. Around St. Cloud May rainfall was 3" more than normal, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.

May Numbers. Rainfall in the Twin Cities was .80" greater than average, but St. Cloud saw a true soaking: 2.54" wetter than normal, according to the National Weather Servce. Temperatures for the month were close to 1 degree F. cooler than average in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud.

Sunny Saturday. A weak cool frontal passage should result in a light westerly breeze (8-15 mph) with a noticeable drop in humidity. The sun should be out much of the day, highs ranging from the upper 70s to low 80s. Right now it appears Saturday will be nicer day of the weekend for outdoor plans. A sunny, pleasant Saturday? I know - I'll believe it when I see it.

Sunday: Nearly As Nice. After a sunny morning and midday, a few instability showers and T-showers may pop up during the afternoon and evening hours Sunday. Expect a light breeze from the north at 5-10; much of the day should be dry with highs (once again) in the upper 70s to near 80.

Rainfall Trends. A few hours of showers and (heavy) T-storms are possible today into Friday, followed by a rare dry spell Saturday into Tuesday of next week

Temperature Trends. Good news for summer-lovers: temperatures run above average through the first 8 days of June, but the GFS model is hinting at a significant cooling trend for the second week of June, a few days with highs in the 60s? Check the temperature trends for your town by inputting your zip code here - courtesy of Ham Weather, a division of WeatherNation LLC.

Web Hackings Rattle Media Companies. Welcome to the Dark Side of the Internet. Yes, I think twice now before entering my personal information. Have you backed up your computer and updated your anti-virus software lately? The New York Times has the troubling details: "It might just be the most worrisome letter to the editor any news organization can receive. PBS fought on Monday and Tuesday to restore the Web sites for two news programs on public television, “Frontline” and “PBS NewsHour,” which were crippled by hackers who said they were angered by coverage of WikiLeaks. The incidents were the latest examples of what security experts call “reputational attacks” on media companies that publish material that the hackers disagree with. Such companies are particularly vulnerable to such attacks because many of them depend on online advertising and subscription revenue from Web sites that can be upended by the clicks of a hacker’s keyboard — and because unlike other targets, like government entities and defense contractors, they are less likely to have state-of-the-art security to thwart attacks. The PBS attack was said to be motivated by a “Frontline” film about WikiLeaks that was broadcast and published online on May 24. Some supporters of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, and Bradley Manning, a soldier who is suspected of having shared hundreds of thousands of government files with WikiLeaks, criticized the film and claimed that it portrayed the two men in a negative light.


Good-Looking Wednesday. Under a sunny sky most of the day temperatures pushed into the 60s north, 70s central and south, ranging from 60 at International Falls to 72 at St. Cloud, 76 in the Twin Cities.


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

TODAY: Muggy with a few T-storms. A few severe storms central/northern MN? Winds: SE 15-30. High: 76

THURSDAY NIGHT: Humid with a few lingering T-storms. Low: 70

FRIDAY: Hot sun, evacuate to the lake. T-storms far north. High: 90

SATURDAY: Plenty of sun, turning less humid. Winds: W 8-13. Low: 63. High: 82

SUNDAY: Lot's of sun - quite comfortable (isolated PM shower can't be ruled out - but most of the day should be dry).  Winds: N 5-10. Low: 60. High: 80

MONDAY: Unsettled, few T-storms expected. Low: 65. High: 79

TUESDAY: Clouds increase, late storm? Low: 62. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Lingering shower, T-storm possible. Low: 59. High: 75


Life Insurance
Your two best forms of severe weather life insurance: NOAA Weather Radio and a sturdy basement. Thanks to the last Ice Age vast glaciers left behind thick topsoil across most of the Upper Midwest, making it relatively affordable for Minnesotans to excavate for basements. According to a recent MSNBC story 77% of Midwest residents have basements. "Nationally 42% of new homes had basements in 1992, according to the Census Survey, compared to 30% in 2009." Details on the blog. Bedrock or a high water table can make it difficult, if not impossible, to put in a basement, yet it's the #1 thing you can do to lower your risk. 87% of Joplin residents didn't have a basement; only 11% of people living in the south have a full or partial basement.

A $30-50 NOAA Weather Radio is the only device that will set off a (loud) tone & wake you up at 3 am if a tornado is heading for your house. They make lovely birthday gifts.

There's a slight severe risk today over central & northern Minnesota, a few storms may brush the metro. After flirting with 90 tomorrow we cool down into the low 80s for the weekend. A sunny Saturday gives way to an isolated PM T-shower Sunday. Yes, better than last weekend.

Why Ethics Requires Acknowledging Links Between Tornadoes And Climate Change Despite Scientific Uncertainty. The truth: we still don't have enough research to draw a straight line between a warmer, wetter atmosphere and more (large/violent) tornadoes. Climate change is resulting in more evaporation and more water vapor in the air. Tornadoes thrive on low-level moisture, but the other (major) ingredient is wind shear. This is where the connection is shakier - no evidence (yet) that climate change impacts low-level wind shear. Penn State has a post focusing on what we do know, and lingering areas of uncertainty around tornadogenesis: "The outbreak of recent killer weather events including US tornadoes hitting Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama has everyone asking whether there is a link between tornadoes and human-induced climate change. In this writer's experience when US TV or radio weathermen are asked about the cause of recent strong tornadoes, they most always ignore climate change as a potential cause and point to a cyclical ocean circulation event known as La Niña as the cause of recent tornadoes if they comment on causation at all. Rarely is human-induced climate change mentioned as a cause or contributing factor in the recent outbreak of sever tornadoes although questions about causation are becoming more frequent on TV and newspapers in this writer's experience. This post argues that ethics requires acknowledging the links between tornadoes and climate change despite scientific uncertainties about increased frequency and intensity of tornadoes in a warming world. As we shall see there are certain aspects of atmospheric conditions necessary to produce violent tornadoes that climate change is enhancing while there are other atmospheric conditions necessary to form tornadoes about which scientists are uncertain exactly how a warming world will affect them. To figure out whether climate change will cause more intense and frequent tornadoes requires asking lots of smaller questions about the atmospheric conditions necessary to produce tornadoes and to determine how climate change will affect each of these various atmospheric conditions that combine to propagate tornadoes. Before discussing tornadoes, it is important to note that it is scientifically uncontroversial to conclude that climate change is causing more violent weather particularly in the form of: (a) more damaging thunder storms, (b) the kind of devastating flooding we have seen this year in Australia, Pakistan, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, along the Mississippi and the Tennessee valleys, and (c) more severe droughts such as those experienced this year in China, Brazil, and Texas. Similarly more intense hurricanes have been linked to climate change although it is still uncertain whether global warming will increase hurricane frequency. (Emanuel, 2005)"

The Good News: Climate Change Doesn't Matter Anymore. Renewableenergyworld.com has the provacative post: "California, USA -- My provocative title represents the increasing awareness that we don't need to believe in climate change to do the right thing when it comes to energy. Of course, climate change is a real threat to us and our environment. But there are many highly valid reasons to become more energy efficient, conserve energy through behavior change, and transition to renewables – entirely independent of climate change concerns. I raise this point because there is an increasing backlash to the idea of climate change as a serious threat. Concern about climate change has been diminishing rapidly in the U.S. over the last few years, for a variety of reasons, including the poor economy (and the wrong perception that mitigating climate change will harm the economy), the “climate-gate” affair resulting from hacked emails from climate scientists, and a very aggressive campaign by corporate and conservative interests that just don’t want to believe that humans can impact global climate. A Yale 2010 survey found that those who believe human activities are primarily responsible for climate change dropped from 57 percent in 2008 to 47 percent in 2010. And it’s probably dropped further since. US News & World Report mused about this trend in a recent article, asking rhetorically whether Americans care about climate change anymore. Now for the good news. I believe that declining public belief in climate change as an important issue doesn’t matter because there are many very positive trends with respect to energy that are here today and will only increase in the future. These trends will mitigate climate change, but will also greatly enhance energy independence, reduce traditional air pollution, create millions of new jobs, and will actually save us all a lot of money through decreased electricity costs."

Minnesota Temperature Trends Since 1895. Plug in your state here and see the trends since the late 1800s. Data courtesy of the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program.



Global Warming: Man or Myth? Professor Scott Mandia, a climate scientist at Suffolk County Community College in New York, has put together a PPT on climate change which you can access in PDF form here. I'm still hoping this all one great big coincidence, but right now the science doesn't support that train of thought.

Global Warming Will Change Arctic Access. The UPI has the story: "LOS ANGELES, June 1 (UPI) -- Global warming will greatly change arctic transportation networks, limiting access in certain areas and vastly increasing it in others, U.S. researchers say. "Popular perception holds that climate warming will mean an opening up of the Arctic, but our study shows that this is only partly so," Laurence C. Smith, a UCLA professor of geography, said. "Rising maritime access for ships will be severely countered by falling vehicular access on land." Researchers say improved access by sea will benefit coastal communities, coastal resource-extraction operations, tourism, fishing and shipping concerns, while the loss of land access routes could hamper inland mining and timber operations, inland oil and gas drilling, as well as smaller inland communities often inhabited by indigenous peoples, a UCLA release reported Wednesday. "As sea ice continues to melt, accessibility by sea will increase, but the viability of an important network of roads that depend on freezing temperatures is threatened by a warming climate," said lead study author Scott Stephenson, a UCLA graduate student in geography."
 
The Cities Most Prepared For Climate Change. Fast Company has the story: "More than half the people on Earth now live in cities, so they'll be where we have to face our changing weather patterns. The most prepared cities are finding ways to keep citizens safe--and make them money. Even if you haven't been paying attention to the seemingly nonstop stream of wacky weather recently, chances are that your local government has. According to the first Global C40 Cities Report, a look at how 42 of the world's largest cities (including Jakarta, Berlin, Los Angeles, and New York) are preparing for climate change, local governments are moving quickly to mitigate the effects of climate change--and profit from them, too. While few of these changes are happening at the nation level, because cities can react more nimbly, we may see some of the most innovative responses to climate change coming out of our urban governments:

Plans To Increase Resilience

Twenty six of the C40 cities already have plans to protect their infrastructure against climate change. Sao Paolo has sped up the implementation of a drainage master plan, and Copenhagen plans to become the world's first carbon neutral capital city. Jakarta is taking advantage of an anticipated uptick in rainfall to think about extending green areas."

Climate Change Allows Invasive Weed To Outcompete Local Species. Phys.org has the story of "yellow starthistle", and the millions of dollars of damage it's wreaking in the western U.S. every year: "When exposed to increased carbon dioxide, precipitation, nitrogen and temperature all expected results of   yellow starthistle in some cases grew to six times its normal size while the other grassland remained relatively unchanged, according to a Purdue University study published in the early online edition of the journal Ecological Applications. The plants were compared with those grown under ambient conditions. "The rest of the grassland didn't respond much to changes in conditions except nitrogen," said Jeff Dukes, a Purdue associate professor of forestry and natural resources and the study's lead author. "We're likely to see these carbon dioxide concentrations in the second half of this century. Our results suggest that yellow starthistle will be a very happy camper in the coming decades." The study is one of the first comparing the growth of invasive species versus their local competitors under future climate scenarios. Dukes believes the results indicate problems and crop growers could see in the coming decades, and not just with yellow starthistle. "Plants are going to respond in a number of ways to . Sometimes, the species we depend on will benefit, but other times, it will be the weedy, problematic species that benefit most, and there can be economic and ecological damages associated that people should be aware of," Dukes said. "These problems with yellow starthistle aren't going to go away on their own. If anything it's going to become more of a problem than it is now."

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