Saturday, February 16, 2013

Asteroid Anxiety (chance of "plowable" snow increases later this week)

20 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Saturday.
29 F. average high for February 16.
41 F. high on February 16, 2012.
Trace of snow flurries yesterday.

Thaw possible today, likely Monday.

Subzero low expected Wednesday morning.

Plowable snowfall increasing in probability Thursday into Friday.

Asteroid Angst?

It's hard to type - curled up in the fetal position - in a weather bunker - 3 stories underground. Tornadoes, hurricanes? No sweat. We can track them and warn you. But asteroids? Blink of an eye. I have a few friends who freaked out Friday, but here's good news from NASA: 90 percent of the (extinction-level) asteroids have been discovered & tracked - no danger of a direct hit. Now, about that other 10 percent. IF they can find them, with 10-20 years to spare, we MAY be able to nudge them away from Earth in time! No worries.

We live with risk every day. The odds of drowning in the tub or dying from a fall on ice are orders of magnitude riskier than natural disasters, including asteroid strikes.

I know, that's what the dinosaurs thought too.

A significant snowfall requires 2 things: a deep layer of cold air (to prevent a change to ice/rain) and a wet storm tracking from the south. We may have both ingredients; a (very?) plowable snowfall Thursday PM into Friday. I'm not quite mad enough to predict how many inches, but it could be enough to placate frustrated snow lovers.

So far in February at MSP: 10.6 inches of snow. A year ago we hadn't even picked up a half inch. Progress.

* asteroid poster above: The Meta Picture.

Silver Lining Of A Very Cold Front? After peaking near 30 today and low to mid 30s Monday the mercury tumbles Monday night, maybe holding in single digits Tuesday, the coldest day in sight. One benefit (wrong word) of a fresh blast of Canadian air? A deep layer of cold air necessary to insure all-snow as moisture returns from the south by Thursday. Graph: Iowa State.

Classic Track For Significant Snow. The ECMWF model, valid Thursday evening, shows a strong storm over eastern Kansas, pushing northeast into Iowa Thursday night, pulling a vast swirl of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico into the Mississippi Valley and Midwest. Yes, it may snow (a lot).

Canadian Model. The GEMS shows a bulls-eye of well over a foot of snow by Thursday evening as close as Omaha and western Iowa. That shield of moderate/heavy snow may push into Minnesota Thursday night into Friday morning.

NOGAPS Model. The Navy NOGAPS simulation shows over an inch of (liquid) water from central Minnesota and western Wisconsin southward to Kansas City, as much as 2" for Iowa and far southern Minnesota, implying well over a foot of snow. We'll see. It's still early. There is much that can go wrong with this storm (like all others). That said, I'm pretty impressed.

NAM Model. The NAM goes out 84 hours, but shows well over a foot of snow from southern South Dakota into Nebraska and northern Kansas by lunchtime Thursday. Another data point.

Model Spread. The GFS model runs (the only ones that go out that far) show some 5-10" snowfall potential Thursday PM into midday Friday. Too early to gas up the snowblower, but I might brush the cobwebs off.

Bufkit. GFS data, using the Bufkit method for snow calculation, shows about 10" at MSP by Friday evening in the Twin Cities. No, I'm not predicting 10", at least not yet. Just showing you the calculus we go thru when trying to predict how many inches will actully pile up.

Drought Update. I'm seeing some vaguely encouraging signs on the weather maps that the edge may be coming off the drought. The pattern is shifting (slightly), allowing more southern moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to reach Minnesota. If (and it's a big if) this trend continues the drought may gradually fade by late spring, at least over the Upper Midwest. We won't know until March and April, if the big (rains and snows) arrive, after most of the frost has left the ground. Last winter at this time we had very little snow on the ground, and we warmed up (dramatically) in March; record warmth with very little moisture. The fact that it's persistently cold, and we're seeing a greater frequency of storms, many pumping up moisture from the south, is a good sign. We'll see. Here's an excerpt from this week's edition of Weather Talk, from Mark Seeley: "Highlights for the drought-monitoring period ending on February 12 from Brad Rippey at the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board include:

- Overall U.S. drought coverage decreased to 55.73% of the contiguous U.S., down 1.11% from last week and down 5.36% since the beginning of the year. The decrease came on the strength of heavy rain across the South and some snow in the upper Midwest.

- The portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category ­ D4, or exceptional drought ­ dipped nearly one-quarter of a percentage point (0.24%) to 6.61%. D4 coverage has ranged from 5 to 7% for 27 consecutive weeks (August 14, 2012 ­ February 12, 2013).

- The percent of hay in drought (57%) fell two percentage points, while winter wheat in drought was unchanged at 59%. Cattle in drought (67%) fell one percentage point

One Fickle January - Giving New Meaning to Blue/Red States. On paper it was the 39th warmest January on record for the USA, according to NOAA. But there were big disparities in temperature and moisture, as described in my latest 2:30 "Climate Matters" update for WeatherNation TV: "Meteorologist Paul Douglas looks at how January 2013 stacked up to years past. For a couple of states it was one of their top 10 coldest Januaries. But when you look at the the contiguous U.S. as whole, January was actually warmer than average. In this segment, you'll see some of the other weather highlights from January 2013. What will you remember?"

NOAA: February 2012 To January 2013 Warmest On Record. Here's a portion of a story at Climate Central: "January was warmer and wetter than average in the contiguous U.S., despite the persistent drought in the nation's heartland, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday. The average temperature in the lower 48 states reached 32.0°F last month. At 1.6°F above the 20th century average, January 2013 ties 1958 as the 39th-warmest January on record. That was still warm enough to make February 2012-to-January 2013 the warmest February-to-January period since record-keeping began in 1880, NOAA said in its monthly State of the Climate report..."

Graphic above: NCDC, National Climatic Data Center.

Report: Weather Satellite Gap, Climate Change Among Biggest Threats Facing Federal Government. Mother Nature is becoming radicalized. One of the biggest unknowns, and additional threats to not only safety but the federal deficit? Extreme weather. Severe storms and droughts triggered an estimated $120 billion in damage, nationwide, just in 2011 and 2012. Some of the same Congressmen who deny climate change will have to get comfortable with the fiscal reality of budget-busting weather. Soon we may be suffering from not only a budget deficit but a serious meteorological data deficit, at a time when severe weather is on fast-forward. Here's an excerpt of a story from Jason Samenow at The Washington Post: "Every two years the Government Accountability Office highlights the top 30 challenges facing the Federal government on its “high risk list”. A looming gap in the coverage of weather satellites and climate change are the newest additions to this list says the GAO in a report released Thursday.  Polar-orbiting satellites scan the globe in pole-to-pole loops and feed important data into models for weather forecasting. But a gap in their coverage is possible starting as soon as 2014 and could last 17 to 53 months..."

Ask Paul. Weather and Climate Q&A:

From Saturday's weather column:

We've now experienced 335 consecutive months with global temperatures exceeding the 20th century average. According to Bill McKibben, who's coming to Minnesota next week the odds of this occurring by simple chance are less than 3.7 x 10 (-99) - "a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe."

"Paul - is each month during a nearly 28 year period over the 20th century average? I've looked for the source of this analysis and can't find it on the Douglas Weather Blog or anywhere else. Could you provide a link for further information? In addition, the number of stars in the unverse is a large positive number. The column suggests that the probability of this temperatures observation occurring is a very small number. This doesn't make sense. I'd appreciate some clarification or further information."

Elliot Long

Elliot - you are correct. The number in question is a very large positive number. It should have been written 3.7 x 10-99. There were some limitations (in print) in expressing that number accurately; putting in the parentheses was my (bad) idea - but it's definitely 10 +99 and not -99. McKibben did the calculations as of May 2012 - at that point we were 327 months/row with global temperatures above the 20th century average. By my admittedly poor math we're now up to 335 months/row.
Here is his original quote in the July, 2012 Rolling Stone article referenced in the column: "....That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe..."

Here are links for calculating global average temperatures from 3 sources from environmental scientist, Dana Nuccitelli.

(Dana Nuccitelli is an environmental scientist at a private environmental consulting firm in the Sacramento, California area.  He has a Bachelor's Degree in astrophysics from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Master's Degree in physics from the University of California at Davis.  He has been researching climate science, economics, and solutions as a hobby since 2006, and has contributed to the climate science blog Skeptical Science since September, 2010.) 

It depends which data set you want to use too.  I've got a spreadsheet with the big three surface temp data sets (GISS, NCDC, HadCRUT4).  If you take the average of the three, the last month that was colder than the 20th century average was February 1985.  So almost exactly 28 years (334 consecutive months above average, to be exact).”

Mr. Douglas,

"Thank you so much for your work, and I daily look forward to reading your blog posts and short pieces in the Star and Trib.  You're hilarious and I so much enjoy your sense of humor.  I have a question for you regarding global warming and forgive me if this is ignorant or naive, but I suspect others may have similar questions as well.  From my limited knowledge of earth's history, it seems there have been multiple prior warming and cooling periods over the millenia with temperatures being much higher during the time of the dinosaurs, ice caps at poles relatively small compared to today's size, contrasted with relative cool periods with ice ages and "little" ice ages more recently.  When referencing the "warmest year on record" or "warmest month on record," aren't we only relating today's climate to documented temperatures going back about 150 years?  Even if we had temperature data for daily highs and lows for 2000 years, wouldn't that be a hiccough on the time scale of our earth's history.  I am by no means a disbeliever in global warming, but simply trying to understand better the temperature variations that have occurred naturally over the millenia in relation to what is happening now.  Thank you so much for your work."

Rudi Alvey

Thanks Rudi - I appreciate the kind words, and keeping an open mind about everything, including whether what we're witnessing with climate is a fluke, a natural cycle or a trend (made worse by greenhouse gas emissions). It's good to be skeptical (and question everything). But there's strong science to back up the rigorously tested theory - now reality, that a rapid (in geological terms) release of carbon into the atmosphere is, in fact, showing up in the data, and most certainly in day to day weather.

I get this question a lot, and it's a very fair question. To begin with, we can use natural signals in the biology of the earth to get temperatures back much longer than 150 years (the thermometer record). In fact, we can go back many millions of years. We can reconstruct the concentrations of atmospheric gases going back millions of years, and until the middle of the 20th century levels of CO2 were fairly consistently in a range from 180-380 ppm (parts per million). Today we're at 394 ppm, much of that spike in atmospheric carbon has come in the last 50 years. Previous warming spells and ice ages could be linked to either (planet-wide) volcanic eruptions or changes in Earth's orbit and tilt on its axis. The volcano question comes up frequently, but as a point of comparison, during a typical year the state of Florida emits more carbon into the atmosphere than the world's volcanoes. We also know there's a very tight, symbiotic relationship between greenhouse gas levels and atmospheric temperatures. They rise and fall in unison. Here's the thing: we've taken carbon (oil, gas, coal) that took many millions of years to form, in burned it in a very short period of time, the geological equivalent of a blink of an eye. That's never happened before. So in a sense we're running a massive experiment on the atmosphere and hoping for a different result.

Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann adds: "Its true that CO2 varied between roughly 180 and 300 ppm over the course of the late Pleistocene glacial/interglacial cycles (i.e. past 800 kyr or so) and this was driven by earth orbital changes, but over the longer-term, i.e. several million years back into the Pliocene, CO2 probably came close to current conditions (400pm).

As for the issue of whether there might have been shorter timescale spikes (millennium or shorter) that aren't resolved by the ice cores, sure that's possible--hard to rule it out. On the other hand, its difficult to envision the mechanism. over these shorter timescales, volcanic emissions are very small. Its only when we integrate over timescales of millions of years where the small volcanic outgassing fluxes into the atmosphere add up to changes that significantly modify atmospheric concentrations."

Potentially more than you wanted to know. Thanks for a very good question Rudi.

FCC Tells TV Stations To Secure EAS Equipment After Fake Zombie Alerts. And my favorite story of the day, the FCC actually reminding television stations that the equipment that generates emergency messages "This Is A Test" may be vulnerable to hacking from overseas - cyber hanky panky capable of issuing a (fake!) Zombie Alert. As opposed to a real Zombie Alert. TVSpy explains: "The FCC is telling stations to “take immediate action” to secure their Emergency Alert System equipment after hackers took control of the system at several stations to broadcast warnings of an imminent zombie attack. FTV Live has the full memo from the FCC:
Urgent Advisory: Immediate actions to be taken regarding CAP EAS device security.
"All EAS Participants are required to take immediate action to secure their CAP EAS equipment, including resetting passwords, and ensuring CAP EAS equipment is secured behind properly configured firewalls and other defensive measures. All CAP EAS equipment manufacturer models are included in this advisory..."

App Overload? How many of the apps on your smartphone do you use, consistently - like every day? For me it's a small handful, and it appears I'm not alone. Are we suffering from a case of collective app burnout? Here's an excerpt of a New York Times article: "...This seems to correlate with a larger study by Nielsen, which found that the average number of applications per smartphone was rising, but that the amount of time people spent using apps had not changed much. The most heavily used apps were Facebook, YouTube, the Android Market, Google Search and Gmail. Onavo, a company that helps people monitor their data use, estimates that only about 1,000 applications have at least 50,000 users in the United States. The rest remain far from the mainstream..."
A Logical Reaction To 2.5 Feet Of Snow. I might be crying too - this photo taken somewhere in New England last weekend, courtesy of The Chive. I appreciate this photo - keeping it up for one more day.

Brittle Sunshine. International Falls woke up to -28 F, which made the Twin Cities low of 2 (above) almost tolerable. Almost. At least the sun was out; afternoon highs ranged from 10 at Alexandria to 14 St. Cloud and 20 in the Twin Cities, Rochester and Redwood Falls.

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

TODAY: Dim sun, breezy and milder. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 31

SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy and milder. Low: 28

MONDAY: Thaw, coating of flurries? Winds: W 15-30. High: 33 (turning sharply colder Monday night)

TUESDAY: Wonderfully numb. Feels like -10F. Wake-up: 4. High: 9

WEDNESDAY: Subzero start. Nippy blue sky. Wake-up: -4. High: 13

THURSDAY: Snow develops. Icy PM travel. Wake-up: 7. High: 23

FRIDAY: Could be (very) plowable. Snow tapers. Wake-up: 18. High: 28

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, brisk. Wake-up: 21. High: 27

* photo above: Heidi Rusch in Minnetonka.

Climate Stories...

"Luke-Warming?" The World's Scientists Know Better. Here's an excerpt of an editorial response to a previous Op-Ed in the Star Tribune from friend and St. Thomas climate scientist John Abraham: "In an error-ridden article written by someone who, it appeared, was a real scientist ("Call it 'luke-warming -- and invest appropriately," Feb. 12), Rolf Westgard made statements that are at odds with real scientists working in the fields of energy and climate change. A reader would be led to believe that climate isn't changing as fast as scientists predicted, that the consequences wouldn't be that bad, and that it is going to be easier to simply adapt to climate change than to stop the change. Well, let's check the facts. For years, scientists have made predictions that we can check. Scientists predicted the Earth would warm, ice would melt, seas would rise, the ocean would become more acidic, some parts of the Earth would become drier while other parts became wetter, and intense storms would become more common. All of these things have happened and are continuing. Some are happening even faster than predicted. For instance, we have seen a 70 percent decrease in North Pole ice since 1980..."

Bill McKibben Is Coming To Minnesota This Week. I have the honor of introducing Bill on Wednesday evening (at The University of St. Thomas). Dr. John Abraham and I will be giving brief presentations, and then we turn over the evening to Bill, who will provide his perspective, as an author, environmentalist, climate activist and founder of Paul Thompson from writes: "Getting Bill McKibben to come and ski the Birkie has been a ten year project for me. It is a huge honor for the global leader of the climate solutions movement to take this kind of time to do what he loves, cross country ski, and to share his love of winter with all of us."

Here is what Bill is saying about the Birkebeiner Ski Marathon and his efforts to preserve winter for future generations:

"The Birkie is one of the temporary and unofficial - but completely wonderful - capitols of North American Winter. So it's the perfect place to talk about what we have to do to keep this season skiable forever!"

In McKibben's presentations at the University of St. Thomas (2/20, 7 pm) and Macalaster College (2/21, noon) he'll talk about the current state of climate science, and the necessary scale and pace of our efforts to do something about global warming. In particular, Bill will discuss the leading role colleges can play now as fossil fuel divestment has become the hottest student movement in several decades.

More details and ticket information at

Climate Change A Bigger Extinction Threat Than Asteroids. Here's another story that caught my eye, an excerpt courtesy of Climate Central: "...But devastating as that would be, it pales next to the strike that happened 65 million years ago, when a much bigger chunk of space rock, a few miles across, slammed into the sea right off the Yucatan Peninsula in what is now Mexico. The debris thrown into the atmosphere in the aftermath of that gigantic impact is thought by many to have caused one of the greatest mass extinctions of species in the planet’s history, by blocking off enough sunlight to chill the planet dramatically. About 70 percent of all living species disappeared during that episode of abrupt climate change. Now many scientists believe another mass extinction is under way  —  this one entirely of our own making. A combination of pollution, habitat destruction and the global warming from greenhouse-gas emissions has already driven the species-extinction rate well above normal, and there’s every reason to believe it will continue to skyrocket as the warming starts to overwhelm these other effects during the coming century and beyond..."

Photo credit above: "A dashboard camera caught the meteorite soaring over Chelyabinsk, Russia on Friday."

Exxon Cease-And-Desist Order Gets Climate Change Ad Pulled From State Of The Union Coverage. My father in law worked for Exxon before he died (of lymphoma - he was a Phd engineer who visited refineries around the world), so you can only imagine the conversations we've had around the dinner table. In reality, Walt was very open-minded. He, like so many other good scientists, responded to data, facts on the ground. I'm not sure what he would make of the current state of affairs, our addiction to fossil fuels, and what they're doing to our climate. Here's an excerpt of a story at Huffington Post: "Exxon Mobil gave a cease-and-desist order to Comcast, forcing the cable provider to pull an ad about climate change from Fox News' coverage of the State of the Union address in some areas Tuesday night, according to emails provided to The Huffington Post by one of the groups responsible for the ad. The satirical spot, which is brazenly titled "Exxon Hates Your Children" and urges Congress to eliminate fossil fuel industry subsidies, was produced by progressive advocacy groups Oil Change International, The Other 98% and Environmental Action. Having already aired on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" and "Up With Chris Hayes", the video has also been viewed more than 170,000 times on YouTube."

Photo credit above: "A still from the 'Exxon Hates Your Children' ad, which was ordered off the air just hours before it was supposed to be broadcast on Fox News during the State of the Union." (photo credit: The Other 98%)

Hot Air From Obama On Climate Change? Will the President take on the dirtiest, coal--fired power generating plants around the USA? It remains to be seen. Here's a clip from Grist and Mother Jones: "...Prior to the speech, there was some speculation that Obama might announce support for carbon regulations on existing power plants. Last week, the EPA reported that such facilities are the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., which means new rules for the plants would be a powerful step in fighting climate change. The EPA has had the power to impose such regulations for a while, but has so far only proposed measures limiting emissions from brand-new power plants. A threat to regulate old plants, many of which have been belching out carbon and particulate pollution for decades, could be potent. In a meeting on Wednesday morning, however, it became apparent that this isn’t going to happen any time soon—if at all..."

Photo credit above: "".

"Climate Change Hurting Economy." Here's a snippet of a recent story at The Australian: "...These are not just risks. They represent real consequences," said Mr Kim, calling the lack of attention to the issue by finance ministers and central bank chiefs "a mistake". He said failing to tackle the challenges of climate change risked having "serious consequences for the economic outlook". "Damages and losses from natural disasters have more than tripled over the past 30 years," said Mr Kim, giving as examples the $45 billion of losses from the 2011 floods in Thailand, whose effects "spread across borders disrupting international supply chains..."

Severe Weather More Likely Thanks To Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of a recent story from National Geographic: "As opposed to representing the unfortunate severe weather headlines of the last year, scientists said Friday that climate change has increased the likelihood of such events moving forward. And though the misery is shared from one U.S. coast to another, scientists speaking at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston said, the type of extreme event may vary significantly from region to region. (Related: "6 Ways Climate Change Will Affect You.") Heat waves have become more frequent across the United States, with western regions setting records for the number of such events in the 2000s, said Donald Wuebbles, a geoscientist with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. But the Midwest and Northeast have experienced a 45 percent and 74 percent increase, respectively, in the heaviest rainfalls those regions have seen since 1950..."

Photo credit above: "Climate change has increased the likelihood of severe weather events such as storms, heat waves, and droughts." Photograph by Greta Rybus, Sipa/AP

The Fight Against Climate Change Needs A Retrofit. Making buildings more energy-efficient isn't very sexy, but it may be one of the more cost-effective things we can do to lower the need for energy, according to this story at National Geographic; here's an excerpt: "....There are so many aspects of our metropolitan areas that can be more climate-conscious.  From green roofs to a more robust system of bike lanes, the federal government can fund many different ways for cities to retrofit their infrastructure and reduce their climate impact.These efforts take money, however, and the President does need to figure out how to boost spending in these areas—which swims against the current tide of budget cutting and deficit reduction that has flooded our politics lately. Picking this battle, as opposed to ambitious broad strokes of policy, could be far more effective in the long run. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the building sector has the largest potential of any sector for reducing climate change impacts in both developed and developing countries. And the idea is so innovative and remarkable that retrofitting two city blocks in Oslo is a cause for international press coverage. Figuring out how to retrofit may not be the most glamorous way to reduce emissions, but it should not be overlooked."

Photo credit above: "Looking south from the Empire State Building." Credit: Dan Klotz

Video: Boston Meteorologist Links New England Blizzard To Climate Change. I know Harvey Leonard; a veteran TV meteorologist in Boston (who knows his stuff). He was initially skeptical of climate change (as most of us were), but - like me - he's seeing markers of climate change on his maps day in and day out. A link with the recent mega-blizzard in New England? Here's an excerpt from Think Progress: "The unusually powerful blizzard that slammed into New England earlier this month prompted a Boston meteorologist to speak out unusually bluntly on the ties between climate change and extreme weather events.After being asked about the increase in extreme weather around the world by the interviewer — citing Hurricane Sandy, flooding, the record-breaking drought in midwest — WCVB Chief Meteorologist Harvey Leonard laid out the scientific case for how climate change is driving these recent events: Climate scientists, most of them who have been working on this issue, that’s exactly what they have been predicting: that over time, we would see more extremes — more drought, more heavy precipitation events, stronger storms…."

Thawing Permafrost May Be "Huge Factor" In Global Warming. Here's an excerpt from Inter Press Service: "Thawing permafrost is emitting more climate-heating carbon faster than previously realised. Scientists have now learned that when the ancient carbon locked in the ice thaws and is exposed to sunlight, it turns into carbon dioxide 40 percent faster. “This really changes the trajectory of the debate” over when and how much carbon will be released as permafrost thaws due to ever warmer temperatures in the Arctic, says researcher Rose Cory of the University of North Carolina. There are 13 million square kilometres of permafrost in Alaska, Canada, Siberia and parts of Europe. As previously reported by IPS, a 2011 study estimated that global warming could release enough permafrost carbon to raise global temperatures three degrees C on top of what will result from human emissions from oil, gas and coal..."

Photo credit above: "Crack patterns in Arctic permafrost as viewed from a helicopter." Credit: Brocken Inaglory/cc by 3.0

Christian Faith Towards Global Warming. Here's a clip from Opposing Views: "Global warming, in the view of the vast majority of scientists, is the phenomenon of changing climates on Earth due to human industrialization and pollution with carbon dioxide and other gases, and it has emerged as the 21st Century's leading environmental issue. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has published extensive peer-reviewed studies demonstrating global warming's disastrous effects in years to come. Yet in the United States, many evangelical Christians still report a disbelief in climate change, campaigning against global warming as an "unfounded and undue concern..."

Photo credit: "Human-emitted greenhouse gases are a leading cause of global warming."

Senators Propose Long-Shot Carbon Tax Bill For Big Polluters. Reuters has the story; here's the intro: "Two of the most liberal senators on Thursday proposed a bill to tax carbon emissions, raising up to $1.2 trillion in revenue over 10 years that would largely be returned consumers. Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California, attempted to seize on the momentum from Tuesday's State of the Union speech when President Barack Obama expressed support for efforts to battle climate change. "We have the opportunity right now, with the president's commitment in the State of the Union to make major progress," Sanders said at a press conference Thursday...."

Smart Water; New Jobs. Water, not gas or oil, will quickly become the most precious natural resource in the 21st century; here's an excerpt of an article at ScienceBlogs: "Invest in the future. And especially, invest in sustainable, effective job creation in the water sector. The result will be millions of new jobs – a significant result. That is the key message from a new analysis just released today by the Pacific Institute on sustainable water jobs in the United States. That study, Sustainable Water Jobs: A National Assessment of Water-Related Green Job Opportunities, finds that proactive investments increasing efficient water use, improving water quality, expanding smart water treatment and re-use, and more will address growing problems associated with failing water infrastructure, deteriorating water quality, severe drought, and flooding, as well as create jobs in a wide range of professions. The study identifies 136 different kinds of jobs at all levels of skill: from plumbers to landscapers, from technology specialists and engineers to irrigation experts. Thirty-seven of these job types are also projected to have high growth in the overall economy, with each offering more than 100,000 job openings across the country by 2020. That’s millions of new jobs..."

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