Tuesday, December 1, 2015

El Nino Mild Signal Dominates - 40s in December - Why Storm Temperature Trumps Snowfall Amounts

34 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
32 F. average high on December 1.
6 F. "high" on December 1, 2014, after waking up to -3 F. in the Twin Cities.

3" snow on the ground at KMSP.

5.2" snow so far this winter season.
10.3" average snowfall in the Twin Cities as of December 1.
9.4" snow had fallen last year, as of December 1.

December 2, 1985: Record low highs are set in north and east central Minnesota with temperatures ranging from the single digits below zero to the singles digits above. Alexandria was the cold spot with a high of 4 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. Other record low high temperatures included Redwood Falls with 3 below, Long Prairie with zero, and Litchfield and Little Falls with 5 degrees above zero.
December 2, 1982: A record high of 63 degrees is set at the Twin Cities.

Temperature Trumps Snowfall Amounts
Vague Hints of March On The Way

It may seem counter-intuitive but 10 inches of snow at 32F is easier to deal with on the roads than an inch at 10F. Monday's "storm" was a blunt reminder that ultimate impacts depend on temperature, not only at the surface, but the lowest mile of the atmosphere. Wet sloppy snows often melt on contact, keeping ultimate snowfall totals lower and roads wet.

"How many inches Paul?" We're fixated on snowfall totals, but that's the wrong question (on so many levels). The colder the storm the worse the travel conditions. Worth remembering the next time snow-related panic sets in. First check the predicted temperature for the duration of the storm - that's a better indicator of how ugly your commute is going to be.

Now that we've had our ration of snowy excitement - welcome to March! Watch for icy patches each morning, but Pacific air coupled with sunny breaks may translate into highs topping 40F from late this week into much of next week. Whatever feeble pile of slush remains in your yard will be mostly-gone by the weekend. Life isn't fair - neither is the weather.

Forget the calendar; "meteorological winter" kicked off December 1. If anyone asks: the statistical odds of a white Christmas at MSP are about 75 percent.

The pattern turns colder after December 15; it'll be close this year.

* Statistical odds of a white Christmas in Minnesota courtesy of the MN DNR.

6th Wettest November on Record. The summary graphic above is courtesy of the Twin Cities NWS.

What a Difference a Year Makes. A 16F. temperature difference between November, 2014 and November 2015 in the Twin Cities? A new definition of weather-whiplash. Data courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Pacific Breeze. Unseasonably mild weather for early December spills over into much of next week, prevailing winds from the west, from an El Nino-warmed Pacific; a persistent pattern that may set the stage for a (much) warmer than average winter. We'll see more snow and cold fronts - count on it. But we probably will not see the volume or duration of cold we normally experience at this lofty latitude.

El Nino Signature. El Nino winters tend to be dominated by Pacific storms that push across the southern USA and then (often) right up the east coast. The 10-Day GFS accumulated precipitation field shows some extreme (15-20"+) amounts for the higher terrain of the Pacific Northwest; another surge of rain pushing up the east coast. Guidance: NOAA and AerisWeather.

10-Day Accumulated Snow Outlook. The blue streak over northern Minnesota is the residual snow from Monday's (alleged) storm; snow tapering to flurries later today. Most of the USA remains snow-free into much of next week, but changes may be brewing for the latter half of December.

Pattern Shift by Mid-December? I think I said the honeymoon would end back in late September or early October. The persistence of the mild signal is impressive, driven (mostly) by an El Nino that isn't nearly done with North America just yet. Even so steering winds are forecast to buckle within 2 weeks, allowing much colder air to push south out of Canada, carving out a deep trough of low pressure that may spark a series of storms for the southern and eastern USA by the third week of December.

After Soggy El Nino, Beware the "Diva of Drought". Will we flip from El Nino to La Nina, increasing the potential for a 2016 drought from California to the Plains? Here's an excerpt from eenews.net: "...Moreover, some recent research suggests the lingering effects of a La Niña pattern -- what one meteorologist called a La Niña "hangover" -- contributed to the severity of the current drought. All of this leads some meteorologists to suggest that even if El Niño produces monster storms where California needs them most, the state will likely remain in a drought and will be facing challenging forecasts in the coming years. "By winter 2016-2017, the El Niño will return to normal conditions, if not La Niña conditions," said Paul Ullrich, a climate modeler at the University of California, Davis. "In that case, we predict below-average rainfall. So, unless this year is very dramatic -- meaning twice average -- it's going to be very hard to erase our rain dent..." (Image credit: NOAA NESDIS).

New Weather Service Outlook Will Tell You About the Next Snowmageddon Up To A Week in Advance. I'm not sure this is being put into effect for Minnesota and Wisconsin; they may be testing it in Washington D.C., where a forecast of "flurries" can incite mass panic. Here's an excerpt from Capital Weather Gang: "...Data from more than 60 computer model simulations from the U.S., Canada, and Europe, feed into the threat matrix. “It utilizes everything we can get our hands on,” says Strong. The model data are then drawn into a flow chart which, in simple terms, evaluates whether the amount of wintry precipitation forecast by the models is light or heavy and whether some of the conditions most often seen prior to a “big snow” in the Mid-Atlantic are present, namely cold air at high altitudes and a feed of moisture off the Atlantic ocean. It also assesses whether models agree with each other or not to determine the level of confidence..."

Below-Normal Atlantic Hurricane Season Ends; Active Eastern and Central Pacific Seasons Shatter Records. All or nothing when it came to hurricanes in 2015; the apathy-factor continues to increase, especially in Florida. Here's an excerpt of a NOAA update: "The Atlantic, eastern and central Pacific hurricane seasons officially ended yesterday, and as predicted, the Atlantic season stayed below normal with 11 named storms, while the eastern and central Pacific were above normal with both regions shattering all-time records. Overall, the Atlantic hurricane season produced 11 named storms, including four hurricanes (Danny, Fred, Joaquin and Kate), two of which, Danny and Joaquin, became major hurricanes. Although no hurricanes made landfall in the United States this year, two tropical storms – Ana and Bill – struck the northeastern coast of South Carolina and Texas, respectively. Ana caused minor wind damage, beach erosion and one direct death in North Carolina, and Bill produced heavy rain and flooding while it moved across eastern Texas and Oklahoma. Hurricane Joaquin is the first Category 4 hurricane since 1866 to impact the Bahamas during the month of October..."

Map credit: "The 2015 Atlantic hurricane season ended with a below-normal 11 named storms, four of which became hurricanes". (Credit: NOAA).

Social Media a Blessing - and a Curse - for Meteorologists. Amen to that. The democratization of information (and weather models) via social media has made it easier to share cat videos and snowfall pics, but it has added to the noise, chaos and confusion. Here's are a few excerpts from meteorologist Scott Sistek at KOMO News in Seattle: "...Then as social media came along, people could share those maps directly with their friends. And as forecast models have advanced, they have become somewhat simpler to read. All of a sudden, meteorologists have lost sole possession of the megaphone. Now there are thousands of megaphones....People are sharing forecasts directly with each other - you don't have to wait for the 5 p.m. newscast anymore (although we certainly encourage you to do so...It's an adjustment for those of us in the business that now we have to react to events sooner, and face the challenge of communicating effectively through the clamor of all the other megaphones that, yes, that model 5 days out might show some snow around here, but maybe it's the only one? Maybe it's the outlier?..."

MIT Study: Little Risk of Earth's Geomagnetic Field Flipping. Well here's a little ray of sunshine, a tweet-worthy nugget. We have enough bad and uncertain news on our plate - at least we don't have to add this to our list. Gizmag reports: "A new MIT study suggests that there is little danger of Earth's geomagnetic field flipping in the near future. Previous research in the area had predicted an imminent flip (in geological terms) that would leave all life on Earth temporarily un-shielded from a plethora of dangers posed by deep space phenomenon. Generated from deep within our planet, Earth's geomagnetic field acts as a protective shield, guarding us from dangerous space weather and charged particles that would otherwise pose a dire threat to life on Earth..."

Image credit above: "MIT graphic displaying a flip of the geomagnetic field (Credit: Huapei Wang (with material courtesy of NASA's Earth Observatory) and edited by MIT News)."

Saudi Arabia To Build World's Tallest Tower, Reaching 1 km into the Sky. Take that Dubai. Here's an excerpt from CNN: "Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from neighboring Saudi Arabia. Dubai's iconic Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, could be stripped of its Guinness title if Saudi Arabia succeeds in its plans to construct the even larger Jeddah Tower -- a prospect looking more likely as funds for the $1.23 billion project have been secured..."

What's a "Car" Grandpa? Will future generations question the wisdom of one person per vehicle? Probably. Here's an excerpt of an interesting story/interview and peek into the future at The Los Angeles Times: "...The single-occupancy car is not good. Do we want to keep buying the cow, when what we really want is the milk? We need to develop a car-light lifestyle. Uber, Lyft, driverless vehicles, robo taxis are steps in that direction. Even Bill Ford Jr. will tell you that the single-occupancy car is not the future. The self-driving car is on the way. They will be coming in some numbers by 2017-18. Tesla already has new software that will allow its Model S to automatically steer, change lanes and park. There is the Google car. Self-driving buses are now being tested, and many car companies are developing autonomous vehicles..."

Photo credit: "Gabe Klein, an author and futurist, speaks on the importance of communities to plan for the self-driving vehicle in a talk at UCLA on Nov 19." (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times).

Bad Drivers Are Forcing an English Town to Paint Its Ponies. Isn't this a tune..."painted ponies"? Bad flashbacks from the 70s. CityLab has the curious story; here's the intro: "More than a hundred years ago, the hapless traveler might have encountered a supernatural hound on the grounds of England’s Dartmoor National Park. This moody, quiet moorland inspired one famous mystery writer to pen a tale about the family Baskerville. Today, however, joyriders around Dartmoor more likely to encounter another frightening sight: a glow-in-the-dark pony. A new pilot project in the southwestern English town involves a fluorescent strip of paint used to protect the native ponies from dangerous drivers..." (Photo: Karla Mckechnie).

TODAY: Mostly cloudy, few flakes. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 36

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, a touch of fog possible. Low: 20

THURSDAY: Peeks of sun, turning milder. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 38

FRIDAY: Patchy clouds and fog, mild breeze. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 23. High: 41

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, still dry. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 29. High: 44

SUNDAY: Peeks of sun, milder than average. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 27. High: near 40

MONDAY: Waiting for December. Sunny spurts. Wake-up: 26. High: 40

TUESDAY: Some sun, little or no snow left. Wake-up: 28. High: 42

Climate Stories...

Bloomberg Carbon Clock. To get the latest CO2 readings and graphs click here.

The Most Important Number in Climate Change. 40 planetary climate models pretty much reach the same conclusion: a doubling of CO2 will result in a temperature increase of 1.5C to 4.5C. Scientific American has an excellent article, a worthy read. Here's an excerpt: "...The Earth is a complex system, an irreducible complexity that defies simplification into computer models. As a result, real world effects of increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2, like the meltdown of Arctic land and sea ice, appear to be happening faster than massive computer simulations have predicted. But the range of sensitivity is not the simple product of computers running simulations of how the atmosphere and ocean—two great roiling fluids in congress—react to more heat trapped by more CO2. It is also based on ancient air entombed in Antarctic ice, the steady decay of radioactive elements in stone and other observations of the planet's remote past. In terms of climate, the deep past isn't merely the past, it's a preview of what the world might experience again in the future..."

Image credit above: "ENERGY BUDGET: How much global warming to expect depends on how Earth's climate responds to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases trapping heat." Courtesy of NASA

10 Things to Know About the U.N. Climate Talks in Paris. Here's an excerpt from NPR: "...It's no exaggeration to say that what happens in Paris will affect the future of the planet. Greenhouse gas emissions keep going up, and scientists say that continuing with business as usual will produce rapid and devastating warming. This won't just be bad news for polar bears and beachfront homeowners. Unchecked warming means that dependable food and water supplies could be disrupted, dangerous pathogens could spread to new areas, and rising seas could remake maps. What's more, extreme weather, plus worse droughts and more fierce wildfires, could become increasingly common. Security experts even worry that scarce and shifting resources could lead to violence..."

Photo credit above: "From the left, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave during the 'Mission Innovation: Accelerating the Clean Energy Revolution' meeting at the COP2, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Monday, Nov. 30 2015." (Ian Langsdon, Pool photo via AP).

World Leaders Show Rare Unity in Climate Summit Opening. Christian Science Monitor has the story - here's the introduction: "For a brief few hours in the outskirts of Paris Monday, the world seemed to set aside old grudges and rally around a unifying cause. Heads of state from across the globe called for a strong climate agreement on the opening day of this year's much-anticipated United Nations climate summit. Representatives assembled here in suburban Le Bourget have no shortage of issues to divide them, and tensions are sure to flare as negotiations unfold over the next two weeks. Still, Monday's remarks by world leaders offered a rare moment of commonality among nations as diverse as the United States, China, Russia, France, and dozens of other countries..."

Paris Climate Summit: Chinese President Urges World Leaders to Unite to Tackle Common Challenge. Here's a clip from the South China Morning Post: "President Xi Jinping on Monday called on leaders from more than 140 countries to abandon the “zero-sum” mindset on climate change and unite to tackle the common challenge. On the opening day of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, Xi said a deal for post-2020 action should be “comprehensive, balanced, ambitious and binding”. But rich nations should also honour their commitment to financial aid for developing nations. The president said the deal had to galvanise global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions as well as respect the rights of developing countries to grow their economies..."

Photo credit: "President Xi Jinping addresses world leaders at the UN climate summit in Paris on Monday." Photo: EPA.

Paris: Curbing our Enthusiasm (Optimism). Some additional warming is "locked in", no matter what comes out of Paris. Here's a clip from Yale Climate Connections: "...The first thing to keep in mind is that only the climate gets final-say: the measure that matters most for what comes out of Paris will be the reaction, over time, of the climate itself. Countless unambiguous signals, ranging from disappearing arctic ice to sea level rise, tell us that human-induced changes in climate are already happening. It’s too late to stop global warming; the world’s nations can only try to prevent its worst effects by drastically reducing further emissions of greenhouse gasses. The world may yet do so, but not solely as a result of any agreement that comes out of Paris..."

Why Climate Change Hope is Not Misplaced. There's a change in the air across Canada - let's hope it's contagious. Here's a clip from The Toronto Star: "...We have a better opportunity now because we do not have the disinformation campaign being waged by the oil and gas industry. They are not actively trying to trip up Canadian policy today as they did then.’’ The mainstream media is no longer the portal it once was for climate deniers, Anderson says, and Trudeau has begun talks with the provinces from the bottom up, not the top down. Given the history of oft-acrimonious federal-provincial relations in this country, that is key, he says..."

Photo credit above: Manuel Balce Ceneta / The Associated Press. "Recent polls indicate Canadians would pay more for products and services in the name of reducing emissions, but support will decline once voters are presented with a bill, writes Tim Harper."

The "Fossil of the Day" Award is the Best Part of the Paris Climate Summit. So says Eric Holthaus at Slate; here's an excerpt: "...The Fossil of the Day has been regularly awarded at climate talks since 1999, flamboyantly presented with a backdrop of a fire-breathing Jurassic Park logo. The awards ceremony has become an essential reprieve from the tedium of jargon and procedure of the climate meetings, and a crucial expression of the activist culture. It’s the best part of the international climate negotiations. Despite being unabashedly fun, the Fossil of the Day also plays a key role in the negotiations by giving the recipient country’s press extra ammunition with which to question its leaders. Past awards have frequently gone to Canada, Japan, Australia, and the United States..."

Photo credit above: "There’s nothing like public humiliation to drive action on climate change. New Zealand and Belgium jointly won the first “Fossil of the Day” award in Paris on Monday." Photo by Climate Action Network.

The Last Stand of the Climate Change Deniers. Here's an excerpt at The Week: "...Perhaps more importantly, the GOP is now at odds with a high-tech and rapidly-growing industry. Last year solar photovoltaic alone already accounted for more jobs than coal mining. As Greg Sargent documents, conservative politicians' latest (and lamest) excuse for denial, claiming "I'm not a scientist," makes them sound both scientifically and economically illiterate. That brings me to the final redoubt of excuse-making. Wrongfooted on the science, conservatives are now reverting to their traditional understanding that climate change is just some dumb hippie idea. For example, "China could care less" about climate change, as GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina recently claimed..." (Photo credit: Reuters/stringer).

Miami Republicans in Congress Sign On To Climate-Change Resolution. South Florida is on the front lines of a rapidly changing climate with rising seas now flooding the Florida Keys and Miami Beach, even on a sunny day with no storms nearby. At some point outright denial gives way to a grudging pragmatism. Here's a clip at The Miami Herald: "In a symbolic move ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Congress, a group of Republicans plans to file a resolution acknowledging climate change caused at least in part by human activities and pledging to address its detrimental consequences. Among those U.S. House members signing on are Miami Republicans Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both of whom represent coastal South Florida districts. Curbelo's district includes the low-lying Florida Keys. "South Florida is the frontline of climate change, where we have seen its negative impact in the form of rising sea-levels and the erosion of our coastal communities," Curbelo said in a statement. "In Miami-Dade County alone, more people live less than a mere four feet above sea level than any state in the union with the exception of Louisiana. In fact, 40 percent of Florida's population is at risk of rising sea levels, posing a clear and present danger..."

File photo credit above: "A cyclist and vehicles negotiate heavily flooded streets as rain falls, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, in Miami Beach, Fla. Certain neighborhoods regularly experience flooding during heavy rains and extreme high tides. New storm water pumps are currently being installed along the bay front in Miami Beach. National and regional climate change risk assessments have used the flooding to illustrate the Miami area's vulnerability to rising sea levels." (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky).

Why Climate Change is Increasingly Seen as an Urgent Health Issue. Here's an excerpt from Vox: "...In a big report released this summer, The Lancet brought together the world’s leading experts on environmental health. They argue that "[t]he implications of climate change for a global population of 9 billion people threatens to undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health":
The direct effects of climate change include increased heat stress, floods, drought, and increased frequency of intense storms, with the indirect threatening population health through adverse changes in air pollution, the spread of disease vectors, food insecurity and under-nutrition, displacement, and mental ill health...
Image credit above: Lancet "The direct and indirect effects of climate change on health and well-being."

Stop Emissions! A climate scientist argues that it should no longer be acceptable to dump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; here's are two excerpts from his Op-Ed at MIT Technology Review: "...Already, in the middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, average temperatures are increasing at a rate that is equivalent to moving south about 10 meters (30 feet) each day. This rate is about 100 times faster than most climate change that we can observe in the geologic record, and it gravely threatens biodiversity in many parts of the world...How can we get environmentally friendly energy systems that can compete on price with coal or natural gas? We need more incentives. The cost reductions in wind and especially solar over the past decade stemmed mainly from many small process improvements that came about as these technologies were more widely deployed. But many near-zero-emission technologies will cost more than coal or natural gas. Unless there is a tax or price on carbon dioxide emissions, there will be no markets for the innovations that a research and development effort can provide..."

ExxonMobil Takes Aim at Columbia University Journalists for Role in Climate Reports. If the facts aren't going your way attack the messenger. Here's an excerpt at Politico: "ExxonMobil is hurling ethics accusations against a team of Columbia University journalists whose reporting helped stoke calls for probes into whether the company deliberately misled the public about climate change. The oil giant went on the offensive in a Nov. 20 letter, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO. It comes as investigations by the Columbia journalists in the Los Angeles Times and a separate report by the nonprofit website InsideClimate News continue to stoke Democratic calls for a federal probe into whether the company concealed its internal understanding of the global warming threat posed by burning fossil fuels. Exxon, which through its foundation gave more than $200,000 to the university last year, addressed the letter to Columbia President Lee Bollinger and sent a copy to university trustees..."

* Columbia University has a rebuttal here.

Uncertainty is Exxon's Friend, But It's Not Ours. Here's a snippet from The Guardian: "...Appeals to uncertainty to preclude or delay political action are so pervasive in political and lobbying circles that they have attracted scholarly attention under the name “Scientific Certainty Argumentation Methods”, or “SCAMs” for short. SCAMs are politically effective because they equate uncertainty with the possibility that a problem may be less serious than anticipated, while ignoring the often greater likelihood that the problem may be more deleterious. In the case of climate change, analyses of the role of scientific uncertainty in the climate system have repeatedly revealed that greater uncertainty about the climate’s sensitivity to carbon emissions means that there is greater, not lesser, risk..."

Photo credit above: "A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas in this September 15, 2008 file photo." Photograph: Jessica Renaldi/Reuters.

Imagining a World Without Growth. Not possible, but I'm still intrigued by the concept, however esoteric and theoretical, of "sustainable capitalism". What would that look like? Capitalism, a market-based economy requires growth, growth requires energy, which up until recently has been powered almost exclusively by fossil fuels. That has to change. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...The good news is that taking action against climate change need do no such thing. It will not be easy, but we can glimpse technological paths that will allow civilization to keep growing and afford the world economy a positive-sum future. More than how to stop growth, the main question brought out by climate change is how to fully develop and deploy sustainable energy technologies — in a nutshell, to help the world’s poor, and everybody else, onto a path to progress that doesn’t rely on burning buried carbon."

White House: GOP Hostile to Climate "Facts and Science". If we don't like the facts let's make up a new set of facts we do like. Here's a snippet from TheHill: "The White House is accusing congressional Republicans of being openly hostile to the scientific facts behind climate change and to addressing the issue. Speaking with reporters Monday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest made the charge in highlighting the GOP fight against President Obama’s climate agenda. “We’re well aware of the fact that there is an abiding hostility in the Republican conference to facts and science and evidence,” Earnest said in response to a question about the GOP effect on Obama’s promises at the United Nations climate conference in Paris..." (File image: Wikipedia).

Bill Gates: "We Need To Move Faster Than The Energy Sector Ever Has". Gates is putting his money where his mouth is, which you have to respect. Here's an excerpt at The Washington Post: "...Bill Gates, in Paris for the start of the international climate talks, faulted governments and private industry alike for stinting on basic research into new technologies for generating, storing and transmitting energy. He warned that the climate threat is too serious to allow technology to evolve at the usual slow pace. “Historically, it takes more than 50 years before you have a substantial shift in energy generation, but we need to do it more quickly,” Gates told The Washington Post. “We need to move faster than the energy sector ever has...”

Photo credit above: "Bill Gates is teaming up with fellow billionaires and multiple countries to boost research in clean energy. He's expected to make that announcement Monday at the U.N. climate change summit in Paris." (Reuters).

* More perspective on what Gates is trying to do to jump-start new energy technologies here.

Success in Paris: In Reach..But In Eye of Beholder (and Media?) Yale Climate Connection takes a look at lofty expectations and what can truly be accomplished at the Climate Summit in Paris: "...Paris won’t satisfy the short-term desires and needs to limit warming to no more than two degrees C. And it won’t reduce CO2 concentrations to a 350-, 400-, or even 450-ppm concentration. But it can still end up easing the transition to a low-carbon global economy. That in itself will be one more constructive effort in what inevitably will be a decades-long undertaking. The theatrics and the atmospherics, no pun, surrounding the lead-up to Paris, the actual event, and its aftermath – and the global media’s coverage of it and their audiences’ resulting impressions – will matter, and do matter..."

The Biggest Climate Challenge: Leaving Carbon in the Ground. Bill McKibbon explains at Scientific American; here's an excerpt: "...If we committed ourselves, Stanford University professor of environmental engineering Mark Jacobson and his team have shown, every state in the union (and every country on the planet) could supply their needs with clean, reliable electricity by 2030 at an affordable price. Polls show that most people would like that change. The ones who wouldn’t are the people who own coal mines and oil wells—people who have a good deal of political clout. For instance, the richest man on Earth is the two Koch Brothers taken together. They are oil and gas barons—in fact, they are the largest leaseholders in those Canadian tar sands that are one of the deposits the scientists say we must leave largely untouched. And they have announced that they’ll spend $900 million on next fall’s U.S. elections—that’s more money than the Democratic or Republican parties spent the last time around..."

Nature Has Lost Its Meaning. The author of this story at The Atlantic says that to solve climate change we need to reimagine our entire relationship to the nonhuman world. Dominion vs. stewardship - which will win out? Here's an excerpt: "...There are now more than 7 billion people on this planet, drinking its water, eating its plants and animals, and mining its raw materials to build and power our tools. These everyday activities might seem trivial from the perspective of any one individual, but aggregated together they promise to leave lasting imprints on the Earth. Human power is now geological in scope—and if we are to avoid making a mess of this, our only home, our politics must catch up. Making this shift will require a radical change in how we think about our relationship to the natural world. That may sound like cause for despair. After all, many people refuse to admit that environmental crises like climate change exist at all. But as Jedediah Purdy reminds us in his dazzling new book, After Nature, our relationship with the nonhuman world has proved flexible over time. People have imagined nature in a great many ways across history..."

Researchers Sound The Alarm on Mt. Everest Flood Risk. Here's a clip from Forbes: "Melting glaciers on Mount Everest are forming large lakes and creating concerns of increasing flood risks, according to an international team of researchers that spent the last few months in the Himalayas. The changes are occurring against the backdrop of a warming climate and measured during what may turn out to be the hottest year ever in recorded history. “A decade or so ago, there were individual ponds on the Khumbu glacier but in the past five years or so they have begun to get larger and join up,” Ann Rowan, leader of the team from the UK universities of Sheffield and Leeds told the BBC..."

The Great Thaw. As temperatures continue to rise most of America's western glaciers could vanish in the coming decades - here's a snippet from a Washington Post story: "...The decline of glaciers here and around the world is frequently cited by scientists as evidence of a climate undergoing rapid change. Scientific studies have confirmed that more than 90 percent of the world’s glaciers are retreating, and many of the smaller ones — like the alpine ice sheets of Glacier National Park — are rapidly disappearing. The impacts extend well beyond the loss of majestic scenery. Thawing glaciers account for about 20 percent of the sea-level rise recorded in the past century, adding to the meltwater coming from polar ice caps and ice sheets. In the United States, the loss of mountain glaciers and snow cover is depriving Western states of a critical water source during the summer, when snowmelt feeds streams and rivers and helps farmers and wildlife survive the dry months..."

Photo credit above: "Upper Grinnell Lake, next to the remnants of the Grinell Glacier in Glacier National Park, Mont." (Ben Herndon).

3.2 Millimeters: A Troubling Rise in Sea Level. The New York Times reports; here's an excerpt: "...Still, there is no question about the basic facts. Since 1993, the average rate of increase has nearly doubled, to 3.2 millimeters a year. The retreat of glaciers, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the loss of sea ice have contributed to these accelerating increases. Extreme sea levels during storm surges like that of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 have increased since 1970, mainly the result of rising seas. By 2081, yearly increases are likely to be as high as 16 millimeters a year, or about six-tenths of an inch. By the end of this century, seas will have risen by as much as three feet, and levels will almost certainly continue to rise for many centuries..."

Unsafe Climates. Elizabeth Kolbert wrote an article for The New Yorker; here's an excerpt: "...A recent study by researchers at Loyola Marymount University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concluded that unabated warming would render Persian Gulf cities like Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Dhahran virtually unlivable in a matter of decades. “A plausible analogy of future climate for many locations in Southwest Asia is the current climate of the desert of Northern Afar on the African side of the Red Sea, a region with no permanent human settlements,” the researchers wrote. One of the most robust predictions that can be made about climate change is that it will send millions—perhaps tens or hundreds of millions—of people in search of new homes. And, in an “extraordinarily interconnected” world, disaster cannot be cordoned off..." (Illustration credit: Tom Bachtell).

Earth is a Warmer, Wilder Place Since Last Climate Deal Made. The changes are slow, until they hit you over the head (repeatedly). Ironically it's the increasingly freakish weather that is causing many to wake up and acknowledge that something has changed. Here's an excerpt from AP: "...The five deadliest heat waves of the past century — in Europe in 2003, Russia in 2010, India and Pakistan this year, Western Europe in 2006 and southern Asia in 1998 — have come in the past 18 years, according to the International Disaster Database run by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disaster in Belgium. The number of weather and climate disasters worldwide has increased 42 percent, though deaths are down 58 percent. From 1993 to 1997, the world averaged 221 weather disasters that killed 3,248 people a year. From 2010 to 2014, the yearly average of weather disasters was up to 313, while deaths dropped to 1,364, according to the disaster database. Eighteen years ago, the discussion was far more about average temperatures, not the freakish extremes. Now, scientists and others realize it is in the more frequent extremes that people are truly experiencing climate change..."

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