Thursday, December 3, 2015

Winter is Missing in Action - 40s into Late Next Week as El Nino Signal Dominates Pattern

35 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
31 F. average high on December 3.
23 F. high on December 3, 2014.

2" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.

December 4, 1886: Minneapolis hits a record-setting 15 degrees below zero.

Winter Hits the Pause Button
Mild Into Next Week

My jingle bells are thawing nicely, tufts of green lawn showing through dwindling piles of slush. I may go for a boat ride. Just to say I went boating, in Minnesota, in early December.

You may be relieved by this early-winter reprieve from wind chill, but I find it all a bit disconcerting. The lack of (real) cold fronts leaves me a little uneasy.

And for winter weather fans the glass is half-empty: neighborhood hockey rinks without ice, feeble snow cover for cross country skiing and snowmobiling. Thousands of Minnesota companies depend on a reliable supply of snow & cold to make a living.

What's happening? Why is winter missing in action? El Nino, coupled with the warmest year on record, worldwide - 14 of the 15 warmest years on since 2000. You might even call it a trend.

Unusual warmth spills over into next week; a streak of 40s; ECMWF (European) guidance hinting at 50F by the end of next week, before a storm (rain event) pulls colder air back into Minnesota by mid-month.

Live long enough and you'll see everything, even a year without a (real) winter. Santa isn't amused.

Predicted Temperature Anomalies Next Thursday. Even with patchy clouds and fog (sparked by melting snow and mild air passing over cold ground) we will still see 40s into next week; temperatures forecast to be as much as 20F warmer than average over central and northern Minnesota. Near Hudson Bay Canada a eye-popping 36F temperature anomaly. El Nino is alive and well.

Global Warmth. The predicted temperature anomaly map above is valid 09Z next Thursday, showing warmer than average temperatures (1979-2000 baseline) across most of the planet; a few pockets of colder air, but temperatures much above average across North America and much of Asia. Source: Climate Reanalyzer.

El Nino Drives November Air Temperatures to New Highs. Here's the intro to an explanation at Reporting Climate Science: "Global air temperatures set a new record in November due to the ongoing El NiƱo Pacific Ocean warming event, according to data released by the University of Huntsville in Alabama (UAH). Satellite data shows that the temperature anomaly - the variance to the long-term average - for the global lower troposphere in November was +0.33oC. This makes November 2015 the warmest November reported since satellite measurements of atmospheric temperature began in 1979, according to UAH. "The tropical Pacific Ocean is still very warm, with much above normal quantities of heat that likely will be transferred to the atmosphere in the coming months,” climate scientist John Christy of UAH is reported as saying in a UAH news release (below)..."

Official: Second Warmest Nighttime Lows During Autumn Since 1873. Here's a graph published by the Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service. 2015 was second only to 1991 for the warmest nighttime minimum temperatures.

Trending Well Above Average. The Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service provides some good perspective on just how unusually mild our daytime highs and nighttime lows will be into next week.

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.

"No-cember" More early November than early December through the end of next week, followed by a correction. The actual observed daytime highs will depend on low stratus and fog. Once you get socked in this time of year it's hard for the sun to burn away the crud, keeping temperatures cooler than they would be otherwise. But even assuming gray (probably inversion) highs should top 40F nearly ever day from today into Friday of next week. The chance of rain increases next Thursday.

Serious Snow Shortage. At least looking out 10 days, based on NOAA's GFS model, which shows a few dabs of snow for northern New England, a better chance of plowable amounts from California's Sierra Nevade to Boise and Yellowstone, but most of the lower 48 will experience a lack of flakes until further notice. Source: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Colder Front Mid-December, Then Warming Again. What is impressive, at least to me, is the sheer persistence of the zonal flow across North America, a few feebles cold fronts, but the pattern bounces back with a mild west-to-east steering wind aloft. 500 mb winds (GFS) valid Thursday evening, December 17, show a resumption of winds blowing from Vancouver and Seattle after a few seasonably chilly days mid month. Blame (or thank) El Nino. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

For NYC Weather, It Was a November to Remember. Record to near-record warmth continues across much of the USA, with every indication December will continue the trend of abnormally mild months. Here's an excerpt at The Wall Street Journal: "...To the chagrin of skiers but the delight of sun-seeking New Yorkers, November was shaping up to be the warmest on record, according to the National Weather Service. The average monthly temperature through Sunday was 53.1 degrees in Central Park. The previous record was 52.7 degrees, in 2001. The warmest day of the month was Nov. 6, when temperatures in the park reached 74 degrees, and the coolest temperature reached was 32 degrees, on Nov. 24. September and October were also unseasonably warm: September was 6.5 degrees above normal, and October 1.1 degree..." (Graphic: NOAA and The Wall Street Journal).

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)

Indian Army on War Footing to Rescue Survivors as Flood Toll Nears 270. Record flooding is gripping portions of India - here's an excerpt at Reuters: "The Indian military evacuated more than 2,000 residents stranded in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on Thursday as the death toll from flooding rose to 269 after the heaviest cloudburst in over a century. Forecasts of more rain over the next 48 hours forced the army to work on a war footing to rescue survivors trapped in inundated parts of Chennai. India's fourth most populous city saw only slight rains on Thursday, but water levels had not receded since a day earlier, when a massive release of water from a brimming reservoir swamped low-lying areas of the city..."

Image credit above: "An aerial view of the flooded cemetery in Chennai, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. The heaviest rainfall in more than 100 years has devastated swathes of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, with thousands forced to leave their submerged homes and schools, offices and a regional airport shut for a second day Thursday." ( Atul Yadav/ Press Trust of India via AP).

Urban Heat Island Impacting Final Snowfall Totals? Consulting meteorologist Dean DeHarpporte has an interesting perspective on Monday's fickle slush-fest I wanted to share on today's weather blog:

"Most of us in the metro area think the forecast for 4-7 inches of snow for Monday and Tuesday was a bust, The MSP airport offically recorded 3.9 in., but the rain and long period of 33 degree temperatures compacted it quickly after it fell, which made it seem like we got only 1-2 inches.  Measurements show that a layer of snow 4-7 inches deep of snow did, indeed, fall within 50 miles of the Twin Cities in every direction, leaving us in a snow deficit donut hole.

Why did the snow deficit occur here in the metroi? Forecasters love to place blame for a busted forecast on something other than themselves. Can we blame the urban heat island, which is normally considered a summertime effect caused by the black pavement of the cities that absorbs and holds more heat than the green surrounding countryside? But this is December, not July. Could it be that the metro area's dense city traffic and heat escaping from the houses and buildings during the snowfall was enough to nudge the temperature just high enough to cause enough rain rather than snow and enough compacting of what snow did fall to create the Twin Cities donut hole? I have never read in the meteorological literature of such a winter heat island effect reducing snowfall amounts. Maybe it was just a coincidence."

December is Going to be Toasty; Really Toasty. Thank you El Nino, superimposed on the larger, slow-motion warming trend we're witnessing worldwide. Here's an excerpt at WXshift: "Forget a white fir or Norway spruce for your Christmas tree. A palm tree might be a more apt as warm weather is forecast for a large part of the U.S. to start December. Every state will see increased odds for warmer-than-normal temperatures over the first two weeks of December, according to the National Weather Service. And yes, Canada will be getting in on the action, too, according to Environment Canada. In the Northeast and Upper Midwest, there’s an 80 percent chance conditions will be warmer than normal during the second week of December..."

Oil Glut: How to Tell When It's Really Time to Worry. Supplies of fossil fuels continue to rise while demand drops over time, due to a myriad of factors. Here's an excerpt at The Wall Street Journal: "...There is now so much crude oil being pumped world-wide amid such tepid demand that producers are fretting over the possibility of a further sharp downward move in prices. The 93 million barrel question is how much more space there is to put it all and whether storage will be exhausted before the market is balanced. Were that to happen, it could cause the oil-price rout to grow even uglier. For now, that prospect looks to still be a ways off even if the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which meets this week, fails to curb output. Yes, inventories are at unheard of levels..."

Photo credit above: "Oil tankers during loading operations at the Aspropyrgos refinery in Athens last June.". Photo: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg News.

Bill Gates Deserves Praise for his Green Energy Revolution. Here's a clip of an Op-Ed from the Seattle Times Editorial Board: "Bill Gates is positioned to remake the energy landscape, corralling 28 billionaire investors to advance clean-energy research. In his announcement, Gates distilled the wonky jargon of the Paris climate conference into something tangible: money for new clean-energy technology. Gates’ project has teeth. And once the diplomatic chatter at the conference begins to quiet, it may end up as the last, best hope to address the existential threat of climate change. Simply put, Gates is relying on the genius of human innovation to head off planetary climate change..."

Photo credit above: "Bill Gates delivers a speech at the ‘Mission Innovation: Accelerating the Clean Energy Revolution’ meeting at the COP21 World Climate Change Conference 2015 in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, on Monday." (IAN LANGSDON/POOL/EPA).

What Bill Gates Shares with the Skeptical Environmentalist. Bloomberg Business reports - here's a clip: "When Microsoft Billionaire Bill Gates pledged to plow $1 billion of his own money into clean energy research and development, he followed a narrative long-advocated by Bjorn Lomborg, an economist known for writing “The Skeptical Environmentalist.”  For both of them, R&D is the key to fighting climate change. Lomborg, who doubts the value of the measures being taken to fight global warming rather than the science behind it, has argued since at least 2008 that it’d be better to invest in developing new technologies than subsidizing renewables. The pay-off would come two to four decades from now, he said in an interview in Paris..."

These Could Be The First U.S. States to Tax Carbon - And Give Their Residents a Nice Paycheck. A revenue-neutral carbon tax, returning money to consumers? It's already happening in British Columbia, and both Washington State and Massachusetts are about to do what Congress has been unable and unwilling to attempt. Here's an excerpt at The Washington Post: "In Washington state, a circulating petition might be the key to both permanently cutting down on the state’s carbon footprint and also reforming what is widely considered one of the nation’s most regressive tax systems. If enough signatures are secured, the petition will allow the United States’ first-ever carbon tax a spot on the ballot..."

Photo credit above: "Steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H."(AP Photo/Jim Cole).

Elon Musk Says Robust Carbon Tax Would Speed Global Clean Energy Transition. Here's more detail from an article at The Guardian: "Elon Musk, the renowned innovator, believes the widespread introduction of a carbon price could halve the time it takes the world to transition to clean energy and make a huge difference to the impact of climate change. Addressing students at the Sorbonne University on the sidelines of the Paris climate summit, the electric car, Powerwall battery and space tycoon said the obvious solution to runaway global warming was to remove the effective subsidy of not pricing the damage done by carbon pollution, urging the students to campaign and lobby governments to implement the policy..."

Photo credit above: "Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk calls for nations to adopt a carbon tax at the Paris Pantheon Sorbonne University on the sidelines of the COP21, United Nations climate change conference, in Paris on Wednesday." Photograph: Francois Mori/AP.

Goldman Sachs: Investors Should Be Focused on 4 Technologies for Maximum Climate Impact. Again, follow the (smart) money. Here's an excerpt at Greentech Media: "...In a report issued this week, Goldman concluded that the most effective mid-term solution for lowering carbon emissions -- and making money -- is backing existing technologies that are ready to scale. In fact, analysts at the bank believe that the majority of investor dollars should go to only four technologies: solar photovoltaics, onshore wind, LED lighting and electric cars. "We believe investors should focus on this set of front-runners with the potential to shift emission trajectories and reshape competitive dynamics on a five- to 10-year view," wrote the group of analysts..." (Photo credit: Fresh Energy).

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).

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..."

Can Christmas Lights Really Slow Your Wi-Fi? NBC News has the unlikely story: "Expecting a new iPad Pro under the tree? Before you start streaming holiday classics on Netflix, you should know that your Christmas lights could be slowing down your Wi-Fi signal. On Tuesday, British telecom regulator Ofcom released a Wi-Fi checker app (available for Android and iOS) for judging the speed of their connection. It also noted a few things that can slow wireless Internet, including TV monitors, stereo speakers, and Christmas lights..."

The Brand Name You'll Never Forget. Reminds me of the Chevy "Nova". Nova, in Spanish, means "won't go", which may not leave the best impression in a motor vehicle. Here's an excerpt from the BBC: "...Then again you might prefer a bag of the Chinese snack Only Pukeet washed down with a bottle of Pee Cola from Ghana? And don't forget a pack of the Swedish toilet paper, Krapp, and a box of Barf detergent from Iran. You could always store it in a Bol-lock zippable plastic bag..."

Object of Intrigue: London's Life-Saving, Publicly-Accessible Enema Kits. Thank God you don't live in 18th century London, for many good reasons. Here's one, courtesy of Atlas Obscura: "If you were unfortunate enough to drown in London during the mid- to late 18th century, further indignities likely awaited you. A member of the public may have attempted to revive you by furiously pumping tobacco smoke into your rectum.  The tobacco smoke enema was one of the resuscitation techniques recommended by London’s Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned, an organization formed in 1774 with the aim of developing and administering lifesaving first-aid to those on death’s door..."

Image credit: "A resuscitation kit from the early 19th century." (Photo: Wellcome Images).

TODAY: Partly sunny, milder. Winds: S 8-13. High: 41

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 35

SATURDAY: Clouds increase, feels like early November. Winds: S 10-15. High: 44

SUNDAY: Blue sky, consider mowing the lawn. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 30. High: 41

MONDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, still quiet. Wake-up: 29. High: 43

TUESDAY: Intervals of sun, no sign of winter. Wake-up: 30. High: 45

WEDNESDAY: Patchy clouds and fog. Wake-up: 32. High: 43

THURSDAY: Mild, growing chance of rain. Wake-up: 33. High: 45

Climate Stories...

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.

The GOP Is The World's Only Major Climate-Denialist Party. But Why? Vox has a few theories, here's an excerpt: "...Put more simply: There are lots of Republicans who take climate change seriously and want to do something about it, but they have virtually no representation among elected Republicans at the national level. The climate-denialist tail is wagging the GOP dog. As David Brooks laments in his latest column:
[O]n this issue the G.O.P. has come to resemble a Soviet dictatorship — a vast majority of Republican politicians can’t publicly say what they know about the truth of climate change because they’re afraid the thought police will knock on their door and drag them off to an AM radio interrogation.
Brooks is a bit delusional about that "vast majority," but he's not wrong about the thought police. Deviation on this issue is swiftly punished by a well-funded primary from the right..."

Ecojustice Files Complaint with Competition Bureau Against Climate Denial Groups. What's happening in Canada will, inevitably, spread to the USA. Lawyers are going to have a field day. Here's an excerpt at The National Observer: "Ecojustice, on behalf of a group of prominent Canadians, filed a complaint Thursday with the federal Competition Bureau, asking it to investigate false and misleading representations made by climate change denier groups. In their application to the Commissioner of Competition, the group called for “a thorough rigorous inquiry of the denier groups and their climate science misrepresentations...”

New Pollution Regulations To Cut China's CO2 Emissions by 180 mt/year by 2020. The Chinese realize they have a monstrous problem, with traditional (mostly coal-fired) pollution and CO2 emissions. Here's an excerpt at Carbon Pulse: "China has introduced new coal plant efficiency standards in a bid to curb local air pollution, which will cut CO2 emissions 180 million tons a year by 2020 as a side effect, state-owned Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday. The State Council, China's cabinet, introduced the new rules to help meet a new target of cutting emissions of air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide 60% by the end of the decade. Air pollution levels in Beijing have spiked this week, blanketing the city in smog and forcing some international schools to close just as China's delegation arrived in Paris hoping to play a crucial role in negotiating a new global climate change treaty..."

Earth Will Cross the Climate Danger Threshold by 2036. Here's an excerpt of a post from climate scientist Michael Mann at Scientific American: "... The IPCC has not yet weighed in on the impacts of the warming or how to mitigate it, which it will do in reports that were due this March and April. Yet I have done some calculations that I think can answer those questions now: If the world keeps burning fossil fuels at the current rate, it will cross a threshold into environmental ruin by 2036. The “faux pause” could buy the planet a few extra years beyond that date to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the crossover—but only a few..."

Image credit: Pitch Interactive; SOURCE: MICHAEL E. MANN.

Who Is Afraid of Climate Change? Here's a snippet of an article at Politico: "...Pew Research Center survey that polled more than 45,000 people in 40 countries, a global median of 54 percent think climate change is a very serious problem. In Europe, an equal proportion agreed, although the British (41 percent) and the Poles (19 percent) are substantially less concerned. According to our research, Poles are among the least concerned about global warming. European concern about climate change is greater than in the U.S., where 45 percent see it as a very serious problem, and in China, where only 18 percent express a similar level of concern. But Europeans are far from the most worried around the world: 74 percent of Latin Americans and 61 percent of Africans polled expressed intense concern about global warming..."

Graphic credit above: Pew Research Center.

China has introduced new coal plant efficiency standards in a bid to curb local air pollution, which will cut CO2 emissions 180 million tonnes a year by 2020 as a side effect, state-owned Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.
The State Council, China’s cabinet, introduced the new rules to help meet a new target of cutting emissions of air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide 60% by the end of the decade.
Air pollution levels in Beijing have spiked this week, blanketing the city in smog and forcing some international schools to close just as China’s delegation arrived in Paris hoping to play a crucial role in negotiating a new global climate change treaty.
- See more at:

Chuck Hagel: Climate Change is a National Security Problem. It's a "threat multiplier", magnifying and accelerating problems that might have popped up organically, but making them worse - faster. Here's an excerpt at TIME: "...This is why, along with a bipartisan group of other former Secretaries of Defense and State and national security leaders, I recently signed a statement urging global cooperation on climate change. The statement said we must work to address these threats as a national security imperative. The military has defined climate change as a global threat multiplier that could exacerbate instigators of conflict such as resource disputes, ethnic tensions and economic discontent. Preparing for climate change is about risk—even if we do not understand every aspect of the scientific predictions, we know that the consequences of not acting may be significant..."

The Marshall Islands are Disappearing. The New York Times reports on rising sea levels and the implications for the world's island nations; here's a clip: "...In the global fight over climate change, leaders of vulnerable low-lying island nations have long sought to draw attention to their plight. They have staged symbolic events like an underwater cabinet meeting, gone on hunger strikes and delivered anguished speeches to the United Nations. Those efforts have had little impact on the substance of the energy and economic policies that dictate governmental response to climate change. In the meantime, Mr. Anej and millions like him cope with the fallout while stranded on disappearing shores. “I’m the oldest — I can’t leave my parents,” he said. “But I don’t want my kids to drown here...”

What Can a Technologist Do About Climate Change (A Personal View). Bret Victor at has a long, dense and excellent overview of the technical challenge. It's an engineering problem like none other we've ever faced; here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...In order to stop dumping carbon dioxide into the sky, the world will have to generate its energy “cleanly”. For the purposes of this essay, that will mean mostly via solar and wind, although geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass, and nuclear will all have parts to play. This is well-known, but the scale and rate of change required is often unappreciated. Saul Griffith has a good bit about this, suggesting that what’s needed is not throwing up a few solar panels, but a major industrial shift comparable to retooling for World War II. In 1940 through 1942, U.S. war-related industrial production tripled each year. That’s over twice as fast as Moore’s law..."

Global Warming Can Lead to Economic Development. Strengthening infrastructure, making everything we do more resilient, will ultimately be good for the economy. Here's an excerpt at TheHill: "...Global warming is and will continue to cause more volatile weather. Rain and snowstorms will be more intense and droughts more severe. We already have evidence of this, especially in California. An infrastructure bill can provide for reservoirs, which store water from severe storms for use during droughts. These same reservoirs can provide wildlife habitat and recreational opportunity for boating. Similarly an infrastructure bill can provide for levees and wetlands along rivers, which protect from overflows during heavy rains, supply areas to recharge groundwater aquifers and make available habitat and recreational opportunities. Smart water meters and smart water delivery systems are examples of technological innovations being implemented in a few cities, San Francisco being the best example..."

What You Can Do About Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of some good advice at The New York Times: "...But as bad as flying can be, driving can be even worse. A cross-country road trip creates more carbon emissions than a plane seat. And while a hybrid or electric car will save on gas mileage, most electricity in the United States still comes from fossil fuels. If you really want to mind your carbon emissions, taking a train or a bus is best, especially for shorter trips. Or try that Internet thing: A Skype call or Google Hangout produces very little carbon dioxide..."

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