Saturday, December 5, 2015

Super-Sized El Nino + Global Warming = October in December

47 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.
31 F. average high on December 4.
32 F. high on December 4, 2014.
2" of dirty snow on the ground at MSP International Friday evening at 7 PM. My yard? Not so much.

December 5, 2001: An unseasonably warm December day occurs, with a high of 63 degrees at the Twin Cities. Summer-like thunderstorms developed and dropped quarter-sized hail at the Eyota Post Office in Olmsted County.
December 5, 1979: Mild air moves in to Minnesota, with highs of 52 at St. Cloud and 54 at Browns Valley.
December 5, 1928: Canby receives three inches of snow or greater for the third consecutive day.

An El Nino December - Freakishly Mild Spell Continues Into Next Week

Welcome to the season of long shadows, a lazy sun scraping the tree tops on the southern horizon. Today the sun will shine only 8 hours and 58 minutes. That compares to 15 hours of daylight in June.

In spite of a low sun angle highs reach the 40s into next week. As snow melts the sun's energy will go into heating up the air vs. melting slush. The result may be 50 degrees by next Thursday, as an almost springlike surge of Pacific air pushes east of the Rockies.

Typical for late March, not a couple weeks away from the Winter Solstice. Truly remarkable.

Stating the obvious (which I've turned into a career) if you like snow get out and play in it soon, because most of it will be gone within 48 to 72 hours.

A powerful El Nino signal continues to howl from the Pacific, hijacking jet stream winds - no polar air is brewing the next few weeks. In fact ECMWF (Euro) guidance suggests a major (rain) storm spinning up by next weekend. Within 8 days it may be cold enough for snow - if we can muster up some moisture.

How strange to be talking about "cold enough for snow" in Minnesota, in mid-December.

Going...Going...Almost Gone. Here is the latest snow cover map for MInnesota and surrounding areas, showing over 4" left across much of western and central Minnesota into the Arrowhead, closer to an inch or two across most of the metro area. Source: National Operational Hydrological Remote Sensing Center.

Near-Record Warmth Late Next Week? GFS guidance show temperature anomalies as high as +35F next Friday night. ECMWF (European) guidance suggests Thursday may be the warmest day with rain possible by Friday and Saturday. Regardless I have a hunch we'll set some records, at least for warmest nighttime lows, the latter half of next week. Source: Weatherbell.

Find The Colder Than Average Air. The GFS temperature anomaly forecast for the northern hemisphere next Thursday night shows record-breaking warmth across the Midwest, Great Lakes and much of central Canada, where temperatures are forecast to be as much as 20-35F warmer than average for mid-December. There are a few pools of colder than average air - but relatively mild air continues to dominate.
Graphic credit: Climate Reanalyzer.

Cold Rain Next Weekend? Confidence levels are still low this far out, but ECMWF (European) guidance shows a significant storm spinning up over the Plains next weekend, enough warm air tangled in the circulation for rain across Minnesota and Wisconsin, possibly ending as a little slushy snow. Yes, rain, about 1 week away from the Winter Solstice. Model valid Sunday evening, December 13, courtesy of WSI.

Locked in a Mild Rut. At some point we'll see a correction, probably within 8-10 days, but temperatures trend 15F warmer than average into much of next week; European guidance (above) may be underestimating the warmth by Thursday when highs may surge well into the 40s to near 50F (assuming no fog and most of the snow gone). Models hint at light rain or drizzle next Friday, a more significant (rain) event a week from Sunday. Yes, rain, a little more than a week from the Winter Solstice.

Modified Pacific Air. We'll see a cooling trend by mid-December, but long range guidance looking out 2 weeks continues to show a mild bias across much of the USA; a more active southerly branch of the jet stream, but nothing "polar" brewing just yet. 500 mb GFS winds valid Friday evening, December 18 courtesy of NOAA and GrADS:COLA/IGES.

This Remarkably Strong El Nino Has Topped Yet Another Significant Record. The Capital Weather Gang has more details on the persistent and near-record setting warm phase in the Pacific and the implications for the rest of the winter. It is winter, right? "The exceptionally warm waters of the tropical Pacific Ocean have surpassed yet another milestone, pushing this El Niño one step closer to becoming the strongest on record. The strength of El Niño is measured by how abnormally warm the ocean water is in the equatorial Pacific. There are many zones in the Pacific that are used to quantify the strength of an El Niño, including the often-cited Niño 3.4 zone. Ocean surface temperature is measured and averaged over the entire region in periods of a week, a month and three months. The records in this region are typically broken by fractions of degrees..."

November Weather Recap. Last month was unusually warm and wet, as reported by the Minnesota DNR; here's an excerpt of their latest report:
  • November monthly precipitation totals were much above average across nearly all of Minnesota. In many locations, November monthly precipitation totals exceeded the long-term mean by more than one inch. Preliminary data indicate that the state-averaged precipitation total (nearly three inches) for November 2015 will rank among the ten wettest November totals on record.
  • Four significant rainfall or snowfall events occurred in Minnesota during November. Heavy rainfall was reported on November 11 and again November 16-19. Heavy snowfall fell in some locales November 19-20 and again on November 30.
  • Average monthly temperatures for November were well above historical averages across Minnesota, ranging from five to seven degrees above normal. Preliminary data indicate that November 2015 will rank among the three warmest Novembers of the modern record. Preliminary data also reveal that the "meteorological autumn" (September through November) of 2015 will rank among the warmest ever. Extremes for November ranged from a high of 78 degrees F at Madison (Lac qui Parle County) on the 2nd, to a low of -7 degrees F at Camp Norris (Lake of the Woods County) on the 28th. A number of warm minimum temperature records were set on November 16 and 17. 

A Warm and Wet November. Here's more perspective on last month, courtesy of Dr. Mark Seeley at Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...November of 2015 ranked as the 4th warmest in history on a statewide basis.  Most observers reported a mean monthly temperature that ranged from 7 9F above normal.  For the Twin Cities it was also the 4th warmest November since 1872.  Over 40 weather observers reported at least one daytime high temperature of 70F or greater.  Only a handful reported any subzero temperature readings. With the exception of a few observers in northwestern counties, November of 2015 was wetter than normal, ranking as the 9th wettest historically on a statewide basis. Several observers reported over 4 inches of precipitation for the month.  Snowfall generally ranged from 2 to 5 inches, mostly coming toward the end of the month.  Isabella, above the shoreline of Lake Superior reported 15.5 inches for the month..."

A Snowless Start to Snowy Season Sets a Record in Buffalo. Lake effect snows? We don't need any stinking lake effect! Here's an excerpt at WXshift: "It’s only the third day of meteorological winter, but Buffalo has already set a record. Actually, it’s a record that shows just how very un-winterlike things are right now. In a city renown for epic lake effect snow and cold conditions, Buffalo has been in the grips of a mild wave that’s left the city snowless for all of November. With no snow in the forecast on Thursday (or the for the foreseeable future), it also means Buffalo will break a 116-year-old record for the latest start to the snowy season..."

Map credit above: "November snow and temperature departures from normal in the Northeast." Credit:

Stating the Obvious. Even if we do cool down the latter half of December (which seems likely) our abnormally mild start to the month means the entire month will be warmer than average from the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes into New England; a 70% chance of warmer than average for December.

Beijing's Smog: When a Scale of Zero to 500 Doesn't Go High Enough. I don't think any of us can fathom the level of pollution in China's largest cities; here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "...Meanwhile, Beijing got worse. By Monday, the Air Quality Index, a widely recognized measure of air pollution, hit 587 on the usual scale of zero to 500, registering as “beyond index” on monitors throughout the city. (The United Nations' recommended maximum level is 25.) The government issued an “orange weather alert,” temporarily suspending some factories and ordering schools to keep children indoors. The problem’s scope is difficult to fathom. This week’s smog spread across a land mass of 204,634 square miles, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection — about 25% larger than the state of California..."

Image credit above: "A woman uses a cloth to cover her face from pollutants as she walks past a construction building on a heavily polluted day in Beijing, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. Beijing on Sunday, Nov. 29 issued its highest smog alert of the year following air pollution in capital city reached hazardous levels as smog engulfed large parts of the country despite efforts to clean up the foul air." (AP Photo/Andy Wong).

Twisters Give Nation a Pass in 2015: Lowest Death Toll on Record? A low tornado count coupled with better technology and warnings? Here's an excerpt of an interesting post from Bob Henson at Weather Underground: "Amid all the genuinely awful news making the rounds in recent days, here is one bright spot: the year 2015 may end up with the lowest number of U.S. tornado fatalities in at least 141 years. As of December 2, preliminary numbers from the NOAA Storm Prediction Center show only 10 tornado-related deaths nationwide. If this number holds through the end of the year, it will beat the 12 deaths reported in 1910 to become the lowest annual total on record. NOAA/SPC keeps tabs on tornado statistics, including fatalities, back to 1950..."

Graphic credit above: "Tornado deaths are far below the levels observed prior to the advent of the National Weather Service watch/warning system in the 1950s, although the catastrophic tornadoes of 2011 produced the biggest spike in fatalities in more than 80 years." Data provided courtesy Harold Brooks, NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory; data sources are NWS (1950 – 2015) and Thomas Grazulis (1875 – 1949).

Look Inside Largest Tornado Ever With New Tool. The supercell that spawned the massive 2.6 mile-wide EF-5 in El Reno, Oklahoma on May 31, 2013 produced hail estimated as large as 8" in diameter. I've never seen that before. National Geographic has the story and link to a new visualization tool; here's an excerpt: "Scientists now have a way to understand the fierce tornado that killed veteran stormchaser Tim Samaras in 2013 in El Reno, Oklahoma. The May 31 storm was the largest ever recorded, and one of the fastest. New software has allowed scientists to piece together video footage of that deadly storm from 45 different stormchasers. The video is synchronized with maps and radar data to create a unique 3-D picture of the tornado. For the first time, scientists can now actually see the “sub-vortex” that spun out of the tornado at 175 miles (280 kilometers) per hour, killing Samaras, his son Paul, and colleague Carl Young..."

Alarming Research Finds Humans Are Using Up Far More of Earth's Water than Previously Thought. Here's an overview and summary of a new research study at The Washington Post: "Freshwater is one of the planet’s most precious resources — and as the global population grows and our demand for water rises, so does the need to carefully monitor its use and availability. Numerous studies have attempted to calculate the amount of freshwater humans consume globally from year to year. But in a worrying new study in the journal Science, scientists argue that we’ve been significantly underestimating our water footprint — in fact, their research raises the estimate of our global water consumption by nearly 20 percent and suggests that we may have crossed an unsustainable threshold in our water use..."

Photo credit above: AP/Jae C. Hong.

Wind and Solar Now Leading Texas in Power Growth. The story comes from; here's the intro: "Most new electricity generation in Texas will come from wind power, and next year solar power growth is expected to exceed natural gas-fired power plants in terms of new capacity added to the grid, according to a new report Tuesday from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The capacity, demand and reserves report from ERCOT, which manages nearly 90 percent of the state’s grid load, shows that Texas is upping its share of renewable power and that growth of solar farms will begin to pick up next year in the state. No new coal plants have received permits, and ERCOT expects companies will retire more coal-fired power plants in coming years..."

Photo credit above: "Wind turbines and oil pumpjack in action Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, north of Stanton, Texas." (James Durbin/Reporter-Telegram).

Nuclear Power Paves The Only Viable Path Forward on Climate Change. James Hansen and other scientists argue that only (newer/cleaner/safer) generations of nuclear power will provide electricity at scale that's needed as we transition to a low-carbon economy; here's an excerpt at The Guardian: "...Nuclear power, particularly next-generation nuclear power with a closed fuel cycle (where spent fuel is reprocessed), is uniquely scalable, and environmentally advantageous. Over the past 50 years, nuclear power stations – by offsetting fossil fuel combustion – have avoided the emission of an estimated 60bn tonnes of carbon dioxide. Nuclear energy can power whole civilisations, and produce waste streams that are trivial compared to the waste produced by fossil fuel combustion. There are technical means to dispose of this small amount of waste safely. However, nuclear does pose unique safety and proliferation concerns that must be addressed with strong and binding international standards and safeguards. Most importantly for climate, nuclear produces no CO2 during power generation..."

Photo credit above: "A build rate of 61 new reactors per year could entirely replace current fossil fuel electricity generation by 2050." Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/AAPIMAGE.

Editorial: To Ease Climate Change, Go Nuclear. New, next-generation nuclear plants are smaller, cheaper and safer, but the risks are still considerable, including can they be built quickly and economically? Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed at The Richmond Times-Dispatch: "...Human ingenuity has few if any limits, and technology often proceeds in ways that do seem magical. (Just go look up some old TV and computer ads if you’re not sure about that.) Until that new technology arrives, however, the world’s advanced nations still need to take concrete steps. One of those is to encourage renewable energy. But Americans should not fool themselves into thinking renewables can meet current energy demand, let alone future demand. While the prices of solar and wind power have been dropping, the real problem is not price but scale. Fossil fuels are so widely used because they are so energy-dense. Replacing them with renewables by 2050 would require, among other things, building more than 150,000 offshore wind turbines — and another 300,000 on land..."

Photo credit above: Associated Press. "In June 13, 2014 photo, two men work at the construction site of a new reactor at Plant Vogtle nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, Ga."

Smartphones, Internet Eating Into TV Time. You could see this coming. TVNewsCheck has the story; here's the intro: "The use of Internet-ready devices like smartphones appears to have seriously cut into the time Americans spend watching traditional TV, new Nielsen data show, potentially undercutting the notion that mobile devices merely serve as "second screens" while people are plopped in front of the set. Data provided to The Associated Press show an increase in the number of 18-to-34-year-olds who used a smartphone, tablet or TV-connected device like a streaming box or game console. That grew 26 percent in May compared with a year earlier, to an average of 8.5 million people per minute..." (Image: LinkedIn).

LifePrint Brings Photographs To Life by Embedding Video Within Prints. You need an app to see the video clips, but here's another unlikely but potentially effective uses of augmented reality, reported at Gizmag: "However, things get a lot more interesting when you use the LifePrint app (iOS and Android) to create, share, and view these prints. The mobile app uses the company's unique Hyperphoto technology, which offers users the option to embed video clips within photos. When one looks at the physical print by itself, it's just a regular image, but when viewed through the app (requiring the mobile device's rear-facing camera), it becomes an augmented reality photo that plays up to 15 seconds of video with audio..."

Google Buys Enough Clean Energy to Power Two San Franciscos. WIRED reports; here's an excerpt: "...Google aims to power all 14 of its data centers with renewable energy, and today, the company took another significant step towards that goal. It has deals to buy another 842 megawatts of renewable energy capacity on three continents. That brings its total capacity to two gigawatts, enough to power roughly two million homes, which is more than twice the number of homes in San Francisco. Now, 37 percent of the energy for Google’s data centers comes from renewable sources..."

Photo credit here.

Porsche's Tesla Killer Is Officially On The Way. Wow. Impressive looking vehicle; hopefully the production version will look as good as the concept; here's an excerpt at Business Insider: "...The production form of the car is expected to be a four-door, four-seat sedan featuring an all-electric drivetrain producing more than 600 horsepower. Porsche predicts the Mission E will be able to sprint from 0-62 mph in less than 3.5 seconds with a range of more than 310 miles. All of the Porsche's stats seem to be in the same neighborhood as the benchmark Tesla Model S P90D's "Ludicrous Mode" 2.8-second 0-60 time, 763-horsepower rating, and 300-mile range. Like the Tesla, the Porsche's lithium ion battery pack will be stored under the floor of its passenger cabin..."

12 Things You Should Never Say to a Meteorologist. Oh, there's more than 12, trust me. has the short list; here's an excerpt: "...While a science, weather forecasting can never hit the mark 100% of the time when it comes to extended forecasts.  Meteorologists get the temperature correct within two degrees 80 percent of the time, and within four degrees 90 percent of the time. They’re very good with a general forecast and pretty good up to three days out.  Six to seven days out? That’s a crapshoot..."

TODAY: Sunny start - clouds increase, stray shower? Winds: S 10-20. High: 45

SATURDAY NIGHT: Few sprinkles, clouds linger. Low: 32

SUNDAY: Clouds give way to some sunshine. Winds: W 5-10. High: 43

MONDAY: Partly sunny, still mild, Wake-up: 29. High: 44

TUESDAY: More clouds than sun, quiet. Wake-up: 32. High: 42

WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun. March in December. Wake-up: 31. High: 45

THURSDAY: Dim sun, mildest day in sight. Wake-up: 33. High: 48

FRIDAY: Period of light rain possible. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 36. High: near 40

Climate Stories...

The Latest Attack on Climate Science. Chalk it up to politics - and a lack of literacy when it comes to the scientific method. Don't like the message? Attack the messenger. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The New York Times Editorial Board: "...Attacks on climate science are nothing new — Republicans in Congress have been trying to cut funding for climate research for years. What’s especially disturbing about this attack is that it appears based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how science operates: The re-examination of previous conclusions, which Mr. Smith casts as nefarious, is merely an example of the scientific method at work. NOAA says there is no truth to the allegations that the study’s conclusions were politically influenced, or that the paper was rushed, noting that it was subjected to strict peer review before publication. The decision of when to publish the paper rested with Science, not with NOAA. The authors of the paper have made their data publicly available. If Mr. Smith or anyone else wishes to critique the quality of their science, they do not need a subpoena to do so..."

Americans Obsess Over Weather But Not Climate. Who is connecting the dots? The BBC takes a look at our national obsession: "...The second story was the latest shocking weather to strike the United States. There is rarely a night when extreme weather isn't on the bulletin. America gets seriously wild, raucous and disruptive weather - last night it was storms in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Kansas. Then, two or three stories later, there was a report on the climate change conference in Paris. As if the two are totally disconnected, two completely different subjects. What link could there possibly be? What dots could possibly be joined? Here's an observation that will probably infuriate many - Americans are obsessed by weather, and not much interested in climate..." (Photo credit: AFP).

Paris: It's All About the Money. What a shock. Here's an excerpt from : "In the end, a successful climate change accord all comes down to money. Financial commitments from richer nations historically responsible for greenhouse gas emissions are important to the outcome of the talks, because they serve as carrots for poorer nations to cut back on their reliance on coal. The problem is, rich nations just don’t have enough of an appetite to foot the full bill on adaptation and clean energy, and the U.S. wants to ask large developing nations like China to help. China has balked at that proposal. China and a group of 130 developing nations released a statement Wednesday evening that exposes just how deep the fault lines run between developed and developing nations on who pays for climate change..."

Reagan, Bush 41 Memos Reveal Sharp Contrast with Today's GOP on Climate and the Environment. I wonder what The Gipper would make of the fossil-fueled insanity and science-denial gripping Washington D.C. Here's the intro to a story at The Washington Post: "The memos, stamped “confidential” and kept under wraps for years, portray a White House eager to assert U.S. leadership on climate change. Global warming will have “profound consequences,” one document warns, and the United States “cannot wait” until all scientific questions are resolved before taking action. The source of the memos: Not the Obama White House, but policy advisers to President George H.W. Bush. The memos were among several formerly classified documents from the Bush and Reagan administrations obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and released on Wednesday by the National Security Archive..."

File photo credit above: "President-elect Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush after their visit to Capitol Hill in 1980." (James K.W. Atherton/The Washington Post).

Corporations Will Never Solve Climate Change. The best results may come from a reasonable level of regulation, better yet a revenue-neutral carbon tax that puts a strong signal into the market, one that inspires 100 more Elon Musks to come forward with the new technologies and breakthroughs we're going to need. Here's an excerpt at The Harvard Business Review: "...The private sector has had three decades since Rio, the seminal Earth Summit in 1992 that started the global conversation about climate action, to come up with technological innovation or to show the power of its voice and influence to solve this problem. But it just hasn’t happened. The time has come to stop using hope as a strategy. We have to acknowledge what we should have known all along: even a well-intentioned wolf can’t be a shepherd, and the dirty work of protecting the planet will be done, as it always has been, by government. The businesses we admire are those that recognize this hard truth. Eighty-one companies, including GE and Apple, recently signed a White House pledge asking for a strong agreement in Paris..."

Republicans' Climate Change Denial Denial. The GOP will eventually come around and acknowledge the science, right? Am I delusional in holding that opinion? Here's an excerpt of a Paul Krugman Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...More important, probably, is the denial inherent in the conventions of political journalism, which say that you must always portray the parties as symmetric — that any report on extreme positions taken by one side must be framed in a way that makes it sound as if both sides do it. We saw this on budget issues, where some self-proclaimed centrist commentators, while criticizing Republicans for their absolute refusal to consider tax hikes, also made a point of criticizing President Obama for opposing spending cuts that he actually supported. My guess is that climate disputes will receive the same treatment. But I hope I’m wrong, and I’d urge everyone outside the climate-denial bubble to frankly acknowledge the awesome, terrifying reality. We’re looking at a party that has turned its back on science at a time when doing so puts the very future of civilization at risk. That’s the truth, and it needs to be faced head-on."

File photo credit: AP.

Fossil Fuel Companies Could Face Fines for Causing Climate Change, Hermes Warns. Tobacco, times a thousand, give or take. Hermes is a fund manager focused on risk in their portfolio - here's an excerpt at Business Green: "Just as tobacco companies have faced billions of dollars in legal costs for their role in causing health problems, so too could fossil fuel firms one day face fines for failing to admit they were causing climate change, the chief executive of Hermes Investment Management has warned. Saker Nusseibeh said the recent decision by the New York State Attorney General to launch an investigation against Exxon Mobil over its alleged failure to disclose the potential impacts of climate change on its balance sheet to investors, could mark a sign of things to come for the oil industry..."

File photo: Skip Brown, NatGeo.

Mike Nelson: Global Warming - It's About the Science. 7News meteorologist (and good friend) Mike Nelson in Denver takes a look at the science - and the challenge of trying to tackle climate change on the air (while simultaneously attracting TV viewers). Here's an excerpt from a recent post: "... I have found that the topic of global warming can stir up emotions and can bring some rough responses via e-mail and Facebook. I appreciate the fact that viewers have differing views and opinions on many issues and climate change is one of those topics that can bring a strong reaction. There are quite a few of my "Broadcast Brethren" that choose to avoid even addressing climate change so as to not anger some of their viewers. I think we have a responsibility to try and teach the basics of climate change. TV meteorologists are often asked to provide insight and explanations on earthquakes, meteors, tsunamis and volcanoes. For many Americans, we are as close to a scientist as they will get, and they invite us into their living rooms..."

There is No Planet B. The impacts on Canada are even more pronounced; here's an excerpt from Pique Newsmagazine in Whistler, BC: "...But were you aware that between 1948 and 2013, the average annual temperature in Canada has warmed by 1.6 °C (relative to the 1961-1990 average) — a higher rate of warming than in most other regions of the world? As the temperature continues to climb we will see changes in rainfall and its distribution, snow, and ice and a heightened risk of extreme weather events such as heat waves, heavy rainfalls and related flooding, dry spells and/or droughts, and forest fires. Eight of our 10 provinces, and all three territories, border ocean waters (including Hudson Bay), so there is no escaping the fact that we will be affected by changing ocean environments, including changes in average and extreme sea level, wave regimes, and ice conditions..." (File image credit: NASA).

Climate Targets May Not Be Enough to Avert Catastrophes. Here's an excerpt from USA TODAY: "...That lower threshold is unlikely to become the official goal anytime soon because of opposition from industrialized countries, including the United States. They point out that even if all man-made greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming were halted immediately, temperatures would still rise nearly 1.5 degrees. “We have already seen some impacts of climate change: more and stronger hurricanes and typhoons, more severe droughts, higher temperatures, rising sea levels,” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “That is with warming up until now of a little less than 1 degree, and warming to 1.3 or 1.4 degrees probably already locked in.”

10 Global Cities Win Prestigious Cities Award. My hope is that Minneapolis and St. Paul make the list of cities showing global leadership on tackling climate change; here's an excerpt from C40: "Today, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) announced the winners of the third-annual C40 Cities Awards, recognizing ten global cities for their leadership in tackling climate change across key sectors. The Awards ceremony was held on Thursday night in Paris during the COP21 climate negotiations. Winning cities, including Boston, Johannesburg, Rotterdam and Nanjing each demonstrated exceptional innovation and ambition to build low carbon and climate resilient urban communities. Winners were recognised for a diverse set of world-class policies, projects or programs, including Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan, which sets a roadmap for it to become the greenest city in the world by 2020, and Wuhan’s ecological restoration of one of the city’s largest landfill sites..."

Dem: Climate Change Deniers Among "The Greatest Ignoramuses of All Time". Although there's really no place for name-calling this headline cried out to be included. "Ignoramus" is actually a kind assessment of the blanket-science-denial going on right now in Congress. Here's an excerpt at TheHill: "A House Democrat said Thursday that history will be a harsh judge of lawmakers who refuse to acknowledge and fight climate change. “I present this motion to recommit as a chance for this Congress to avoid the harsh light and judgment of the historians who will not hesitate to include us on their list of the greatest ignoramuses of all time,” Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) said on the House floor during an attempt to attach a provision recognizing climate change to an energy policy reform bill. “To lump us in, without fear of contradiction, with the worst lantern-jawed simpletons of history, historians who will unmercifully tell our grandchildren and their grandchildren just how dumb we were if we do not take action to prevent damage to our climate...” (Photo credit: Greg Nash).

Fact, Not Opinion: Climate Change is Happening and is Caused by Human Activities. NCAR Climate scientist Kevin Trenberth has the story at Huffington Post; here's his introduction: "If planet Earth went to see a doctor because of its persistent and growing fever, the results would likely be: (i) the symptoms are clear: the planet's temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide are increasing; (ii) the diagnosis would be that these two things are linked and human activities are causal; (iii) the prognosis would be an outlook for more warming at rates that can be disruptive and will cause strife; and (iv) the treatment is "mitigation" which means reducing fossil fuel use to lower carbon dioxide emissions, and "adaptation" which means planning for the consequences. Patrick Daniel Moynihan once famously said "You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts." In reality we have many facts and physical understanding with regard to the changing climate. The interpretation of the available information relies on well-established physical principles. The data are of mixed quality and length but together they tell a compelling story leaving no doubt whatsoever about the human role in climate change..."

Graphic credit above: "Time series of annual values of global mean temperature anomalies (red and blue bars) in degrees Celsius, and carbon dioxide concentrations at Mauna Loa, both from NOAA, relative to a baseline of the 20th Century values. Also given as dashed values are the pre-industrial estimated values, with the scale in orange at right for carbon dioxide, where the value is 280 ppmv (parts per million by volume). The latest October 2015 values exceed 400 ppmv. For temperature, the 2015 value is based on observations through October 2015 and estimated for November and December based on the October anomaly. Values are more than 1 C above pre-industrial levels." (Thanks to John Fasullo who helped with this figure).

Tax Me, Says ExxonMobil, in Declaring Support for Climate Talks. Talk about a shift in strategy. Here's an excerpt from Bloomberg Business: "Exxon Mobil Corp., a favorite target of global warming activists, said Wednesday that it’s hopeful for a deal out of the climate-change talks in Paris and still thinks the best solution is a tax on carbon pollution. As the United Nations negotiations moved into a third day, the world’s biggest oil explorer said in an blog post that it supports “meaningful action to address the risks of climate change” as long as it preserved access to the reliable and affordable energy..."

More Exxon Documents Show How Much It Knew About Climate 35 Years Ago. InsideClimate News reports; here's an excerpt: "...Exxon estimated that CO2 would double by 2090, which was later than what the other groups had projected. It estimated that average global temperatures would rise by 1.3 to 3.1 degrees Celsius (2.3 to 5.6 degrees Fahrenheit), which was in the mid-range of the four projections that Shaw shared. Shaw showed the policy recommendations of the three organizations and Exxon to address climate change. According to him, MIT argued for an "extreme reduction in fossil fuel use," while the others, including Exxon, urged a more cautious approach. But Exxon did not deny the link between fossil fuel use and climate change as it would begin to do just five years later." (File image: Don Ryan, AP).

Is Big Oil the New Big Tobacco? Tobacco times 100, or 1,000, based on the trillions of dollars of carbon still in the ground, which needs to remain in the ground to avoid a worst-case climate scenario. Here's an excerpt from a story at Bloomberg Business: "...Activists have been urging investors for years to pull money out of the fossil-fuel producers blamed for much of the world’s warming. Joe Camel’s new role shows the movement has an even broader target: not just the industry’s money, but its reputation. With envoys gathered in Paris this week for a United Nations summit on climate change, there are signs -- from coal-plant closures to the death of the Keystone XL pipeline -- that the effort is bearing fruit. “That pariah status is growing,” Bill McKibben, a founder of climate advocacy group, said in an interview. “The fossil-fuel industry remains incredibly strong -- they are super-rich -- but they are not so invincible as they thought they were...”

Researchers: ExxonMobil, Koch Family Have Powered the Climate-Denial Machine for Decades. Where's the outrage? Slate has the unsavory details of new research that draws a direct line between corporate-inspired, (manufactured) misinformation and today's political quagmire; here's an excerpt: "...By machine-reading this massive amount of information—more than 39 million words—Farrell was able to link a significant amount of the most resonant denialist rhetoric over the last two decades directly to two entities that have derived a significant amount of their wealth from exploiting fossil fuels: ExxonMobil and the Koch family foundations. To conduct this research, Farrell constructed a comprehensive social network of the producers of contrarian climate information—some 4,556 individuals and 164 organizations—and tracked the most common phrases shared among them, like “CO2 is good” or “Al Gore.” He then examined the funding ties between companies and compared them with the use of common phrases. After analyzing them all, he found that donations to organizations from ExxonMobil and the Koch foundations were “the most reliable and theoretically important across-time indicators of corporate involvement”—including the ability to influence the mainstream media and the president..."

David Koch file photo: AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack.

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