Saturday, April 22, 2017

More Hints of May - March Returns by Tuesday - Creation Care and Climate Change

69 F. high temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.
61 F. average high on April 22.
59 F. high on April 22, 2016.

April 23, 1990: A record high of 88 degrees is set at Redwood Falls.

One of the Nicer Weather Weekends of 2017

In business you experiment, tinker, iterate. You fail until you succeed. But some of my ideas have not done well. Hairbnb. Borrow other people's hair for a fee? Didn't end well. GUBER. Rent out my old sport coats by the hour? I wish I could take that one back. We celebrate our successes but let's not forget the flops.

Yesterday, at a book signing at Barnes & Noble, I heard "Paul, can't you make every weekend this nice?" Uh, sure. Lukewarm sunshine on the weekends, rain only on weekdays? Great idea! But a weather modification business would consist of one mad science - and 50 overpaid lawyers. Because you'd be getting sued every other day. Because you just can't please all the people, all the time. Boaters and golfers want sunshine, farmers want rain. It's just a fact of life.

A majority of Minnesotans will be pleased today with peeks of blue sky and upper 60s - minus the bugs, humidity and wailing sirens of summer. Showers may sprout just north of the metro today. It won't be as postcard-perfect as yesterday, but good enough.

A slow-moving cool front sparks a better chance of showers Monday and Tuesday, with highs in the 50s Tuesday into next weekend.

PS: Mark Seeley reports 22 of the last 24 months have been warmer than normal. Details below.

Earth Day Top 10 Staff Picks. Here is one of 10 remarkable images of our home, courtesy of SSEC at The University of Wisconsin: "To celebrate Earth Day, we asked staff at the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) and the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) to share their favorite images of Earth as seen from space and terrestrially. Selections range from the most historic images captured in the late 1960s, to the most recent snapshot from this week. Here are our top choices..."

Image credit: Earth at night taken by Suomi NPP in 2016. Eric Verbeten, SSEC Communications Specialist. NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data from Miguel Román, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

April Continues Trend of Warm and Wet. Here are a couple brief excerpts from Dr. Mark Seeley's latest edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk: "So far this month most Minnesota climate observers are reporting warmer and wetter than normal conditions. Temperatures are averaging 5 to 7 degrees F warmer than normal. Through April 19th eight daily record maximum temperatures have been tied or set within the climate observation networks, while thirty-nine daily record warm minimum temperature records have been tied or set...Clearly this month is following a trend from the last two years (24 months) during which 22 months have been warmer than normal, and 16 months have been wetter than normal..."

Nagging Whispers of March. Expect more rain and T-storms across the southeast, as moisture spreads back into the Mid Atlantic region. The next reinforcement of Pacific moisture regroups east of the Rockies, sparking a smear of rain and snow for the Plains and Upper Midwest by Tuesday. The transition to spring is a sordid affair. 84-hour NAM: NOAA and

Nature Never Moves in a Straight Line. Pass the Dramamine, please. Relative warmth lingers into Monday, and then a wind shift to the northwest Tuesday pulls chilly air southward again, with rain possibly ending as slushy snow over parts of central and northern Minnesota. Forget the Dramamine. Smelling salts, please. Temperatures recover to average next week, but you'll need a jacket later this week. ECMWF numbers for the Twin Cities: WeatherBell.

Fairly Zonal. 500 mb winds looking out roughly 2 weeks suggests more of a zonal than a blocking wind flow; west to east winds aloft favoring temperatures near normal for the northern USA; well above average for the southern half of the USA, if this forecast verifies.

Fleeting Tropical Storm Arlene. For only the second time on record we had a tropical storm (Arlene) in the Atlantic for a time Friday, but wind shear rapidly weakened the storm. Loop: AerisWeather AMP.

El Nino: Watching, Waiting For Signs It Could Return. has an update: "La Nina is history -- but El Nino might not be gone for long. That's according to the latest monthly discussion on the matter from climate researchers. ENSO-neutral conditions prevailed in March, and could continue though at least the rest of the spring, according to the report from a group that includes NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, the National Weather Service and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society. However, researchers believe there are increasing odds of El Nino returning by the late summer or fall..."

Graphic credit: "The tropical Pacific was giving mixed signals in March. Some areas (in blue) were cooler than average while others (in red) were warmer." (NOAA).

Realtors Sound Alarm Over Expiring Flood Insurance Program. Consumer Affairs has the story; here are a couple of excerpts that got my attention: "...The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by FEMA, is supposed to make flood insurance more affordable for homeowners, but the program is scheduled to expire at the end of September. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) worries that there will be nothing to replace it..."Policyholders in over 22,000 communities across the country depend on the NFIP to protect homes and businesses from torrential rain, swollen rivers and lakes, snowmelt, failing infrastructure, as well as storm surges and hurricanes," he said. "When that lifeline is cut off, the NFIP can't issue new policies or renew existing residential or commercial policies that expire. That means current home and business owners may find their most important asset unprotected..."

File photo: Associated Press.

Southeast Seeing a Surge Of Interest in Net Zero Schools. Southeast Energy News has the encouraging details: "A Virginia school’s recognition last month for its net zero energy status is part of a growing trend in the Southeast. According to the New Buildings Institute, four of the five states with the most net zero energy schools underway in 2016 were in the South — despite low power rates and few policy incentives. Ground zero for net zero schools is, of all places, coal-rich Kentucky, where then-Gov. Steve Beshear tapped federal stimulus money to offer incentives for schools to become more energy efficient. In South Carolina, there’s a county system planning five net zero facilities. A North Carolina district has committed to building only net zero from now on..."

Photo credit: "Solar panels help provide a hands-on learning experience for students at Discover Elementary." Photo by VMDO Architects - Lincoln Barbour.

The Surprising List of States Leading U.S. on Renewable Energy. Turns out there are no red states or blue states with clean renewables, only green states. Here's a clip from InsideClimate News: "...Kansas led the nation in largest increase in renewable energy generation between 2011-15. Hawaii ranked No. 1 in residential solar power. In California, electric vehicles made up the highest percentage of new car sales last year. And in Iowa, in-state companies could most easily procure renewable energy from utilities and third-party providers in 2016 than anywhere else. There's a misconception that clean energy "is something only a few states are doing," Scott Clausen, a policy expert at the American Council on Renewable Energy who was not involved in this report told InsideClimate News. "It's really not. It's becoming much more widespread..." (Image credit: Shutterstock).

April 21: First Day UK Was Powered Without Coal Since the Industrial Revolution. Quartz reports on the milestone: "The seismic shift in global energy production was powerfully in evidence today (April 21), when all electricity in the UK was produced for a 24-hour period without burning a single shovelful of coal—for the first time since the industrial revolution. Britain led the world into industrialization in the 18th century, when machines powered by coal—and eventually by electricity produced from burning it and other fuels—began to take over from manual labor. Ever since then, billions of tonnes of coal have been incinerated to keep power grids feeding the country’s homes and businesses. As recently as 2014, the UK was still getting 40% of its energy from coal..."

Industry Report: Midwest and Great Plains Lead Wind Energy Expansion. Midwest Energy News has the story: "Wind power represents more than 80 percent of the new electricity generating capacity built in the Midwest and Great Plains states over the past five years as the industry continues to grow, according to a report released today. The American Wind Energy Association’s annual 2016 report notes that two states in the region generate more than 30 percent of their electricity needs from wind – Iowa (35 percent) and South Dakota (30 percent). North Dakota, Oklahoma and Kansas produce more than 20 percent of their electricity demand from wind. Not surprising, the Midwest/Great Plains nexus – combined with Texas — captured 89 percent of all investment in wind last year..." (Image credit: Star Tribune).

General Mills Commits Millions to Soil Health Initiative. The Star Tribune reports: "General Mills is committing $2 million over three years to help The Nature Conservancy improve soil health. The Golden Valley-based food company announced its initial partnership with the conservation organization back in November when unveiling a new Soil Health Roadmap. The roadmap attempts to build a business case for investing in sustainable soil health practices. This new funding announced Thursday will help The Nature Conservancy, along with the Soil Health Institute and the Soil Health Partnership, implement those plans outlined last fall..."

Gigantic Wind Turbines Signal Era of Subsidy-Free Green Power. Here's a clip from Bloomberg: "Offshore wind turbines are about to become higher than the Eiffel Tower, allowing the industry to supply subsidy-free clean power to the grid on a massive scale for the first time. Manufacturers led by Siemens AG are working to almost double the capacity of the current range of turbines, which already have wing spans that surpass those of the largest jumbo jets. The expectation those machines will be on the market by 2025 was at the heart of contracts won by German and Danish developers last week to supply electricity from offshore wind farms at market prices by 2025. Just three years ago, offshore wind was a fringe technology more expensive than nuclear reactors and sometimes twice the cost of turbines planted on land. The fact that developers such as Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG and Dong Energy A/S are offering to plant giant turbines in stormy seas without government support show the economics of the energy business are shifting quicker than anyone thought possible -- and adding competitive pressure on the dominant power generation fuels coal and natural gas..."

Space Junk is a Growing Problem. Here's a video link and story excerpt at The Washington Post: "...Hundreds of thousands of bits of space junk are orbiting Earth, according to NASA. These include tiny paint flecks that can take out a space shuttle window, and some 2,000 satellite shards left by a collision of Russian and American satellites several years ago. In Germany, the audience was shown a slide from another depressing space film, “Gravity.” The part where the International Space Station is destroyed in an avalanche of space trash. “There were many mistakes in that movie; I will not go through that,” ESA Director General Jan Woerner said. “But the effect, as such, is a very serious one...”

Netflix and Internet Video Pals Are Winning Big From Cord-Cutting. Interesting details via Fortune: "...At the same time, the number of households that have cut the cord, or never subscribed in the first place–so called cord nevers–is growing.Last year, 2.1 million households dropped pay TV service, up from 1.2 million in 2015, Convergence said. By the end of the year, 27 million households, or about 22% of the country, did not pay for cable or satellite TV service, up from 24 million, or 20% of households, in 2015. And the total should reach 30 million, or 25% of all households, by the end of 2017, Convergence said..."

Silicon Valley Executives are Hiring Philosophers to Teach Them to Question Everything. Can one optimize happiness? Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "Silicon Valley is obsessed with happiness. The pursuit of a mythical good life, achievement blending perfectly with fulfillment, has given rise to the quantified self movement, polyphasic sleeping, and stashes of off-label pharmaceuticals in developers’ desks. Yet Andrew Taggart thinks most of this is nonsense. A PhD in philosophy, Taggart practices the art of gadfly-for-hire. He disabuses founders, executives, and others in Silicon Valley of the notion that life is a problem to be solved, and happiness awaits those who do it. Indeed, Taggart argues that optimizing one’s life and business is actually a formula for misery..."

Animation credit: Ariel Costa for Quartz.

Tips for Traveling to America. Some of these are priceless. Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "...This year, people seem less willing to chance travel to the US. As Leslie Josephs wrote last week: “After Trump took office under the banner ‘America First,’ searches for flights from abroad to the US dropped. Other recent developments, like the United States’ recent ban on in-cabin electronics on flights from the Middle East, or this week’s viral video of a United Airlines passenger being violently dragged off a flight, aren’t likely to encourage tourism, either.” But in the spirit of the free movement of people and ideas, here’s the advice most likely to make the journey smooth for first-time visitors, and to give Americans a surprising glance in the mirror. Speaking to women:
Avoid slang terms that you might hear Americans use for women (“babe”, “broad”, “chick”) and to be safe, avoid any equivalents in your language. It is just best to simply address an American woman by her given name..."
Photo credit: New York City. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

TODAY: Some sun, shower or sprinkle north of MSP. Winds: SW 7-12. High: 67

SUNDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, not as cool. Low: 50

MONDAY: Mild with a few showers, possible T-storm. Winds: S 15-30. High: 68

TUESDAY: Cooler with a steadier rain rain possible PM hours. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 43. High: 49 (falling)

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, a raw breeze. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 37. High: 48

THURSDAY: Leftover clouds, no sign of spring. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 35. High: 51

FRIDAY: Sunny breaks, cooler than average. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 36. High: 54

SATURDAY: Nicer, drier day of the weekend with fading sun. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 39. High: 53

Read more here:

Read more here:

Climate Stories....

Christian Earth Day Lessons: Worship by Protecting Creation. There's a place for faith in absolutes, and science. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed I wrote for The Guardian: "...It’s true that all knowledge is relative; science is never “settled” and one never quite reaches solid bedrock. There’s always a new observation, a new discovery, a radical theory, more testing to do. We look at the universe through a pinhole as God gradually reveals himself to us. Regardless of how you pray or how you vote, we can all agree that fewer toxic chemicals in our air and water is a good thing. But today, more Americans die prematurely from air pollution than traffic accidents. More than 5 million premature deaths result from dirty air every year, worldwide. Air pollution disproportionately impacts minority and low-income communities across the USA. And statistically, America’s poor are much more likely to live near toxic waste sites..."

Image credit: GOES-16, NOAA.

Download a digital copy of "Caring for Creation": The Evangelicals Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment" for $1.99 today only, courtesy of Baker Publishing.

Evangelical Leaders Find Climate Change Message a Tough Sell. EEN President Mitch Hescox and I have been framing the challenge/opportunity in a way that appeals to people's heads and hearts. There is no one-size-fits-all way to tell the climate story. Here's an excerpt from The San Francisco Chronicle: "...In November, there was another message that resonated even more loudly than science with evangelical voters. “Most evangelicals voted for Trump for one reason and one reason only: The promise to put someone on the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade,” said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network — which claims 80 organizations and 3 million pro-life Christians as members. A contingent from the organization will march in Washington on Saturday behind the banner: “Climate science: It’s a matter of life.” For years, Hescox said he has been trying to rally support among evangelicals “to see pro-life is not just about abortion. It’s about all of life.” Like how working to improve air quality in a poor neighborhood would improve the health of children and the unborn there, he said. But often, he said, faith community members don’t connect with the way that progressives try to explain climate change concerns — worrying about melting polar ice caps doesn’t resonate with many conservative evangelical voters, he said..."

Photo credit: Stephen Crowley, STF. "Demonstrators gather in front of the White House to voice their opposition after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that rolled back many climate-change policies, in Washington, March 28, 2017. In April, scientists and science advocates are expected to fill the streets for the March for Science, a rally in support of scientific research, which many feel has increasingly come under attack during the Trump administration."

March for Science. This was the scene in St. Paul on Saturday, a very impressive turnout at the State Capitol. Thanks to Ken Brown for forwarding these along.

Our Climate Future Is Actually Our Climate Present. Here's a snippet from a New York Times Magazine story: "...The future we've been warned about is beginning to saturate the present. We tend to imagine climate change as a destroyer. But it also traffics in disruption, Disarray: increasingly frequent and more powerful storms and droughts; heightened flooding; expanded ranges of pests turning forests into fuel for wildfires; stretches of inhospitable heat. So many facets of our existence - agriculture, transportation, cities and the architecture they spawned - were designed to suit specific environments. Now they are being slowly transplanted into different, more volatile ones, without ever actually moving..."

Illustration: Christoph Niemann.

Climate Change and Health are Inextricably Linked. Huffington Post has details: "...WHO estimates that 12.6 million people die each year as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment, contributing to nearly one-quarter of deaths around the world. Similarly, a WHO assessment concluded that climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050. This is a future we must avoid if we are to achieve our universal health coverage targets. That is why the health impacts of climate change are among my five priorities as candidate for Director-General of the WHO. Climate change and variations particularly impact many aspects of life that are inextricably linked to health: food security, economic livelihoods, air safety and water and sanitation systems..."

Graphic credit: World Health Organization Climate change and human health program.

We Just Breached the 410 Parts Per Million Threshold. Climate Central has details: "The world just passed another round-numbered climate milestone. Scientists predicted it would happen this year and lo and behold, it has. On Tuesday, the Mauna Loa Observatory recorded its first-ever carbon dioxide reading in excess of 410 parts per million (it was 410.28 ppm in case you want the full deal). Carbon dioxide hasn’t reached that height in millions of years. It’s a new atmosphere that humanity will have to contend with, one that’s trapping more heat and causing the climate to change at a quickening rate..."

Survey Shows Americans Care About Climate Change, But There's One Big Catch. Here's a clip from an article at GOOD: "Earth Day is Saturday, and you know what that means: time to feel guilty about another year of not saving the planet. As one environmental organization aims to point out, you’re not alone. According to a new poll conducted by Ipsos and commissioned by Cool Effect, 75 percent of those surveyed think they have the power to combat climate change as individuals. Of the more than 1,400 people surveyed, however, only 40 percent have actually donated to organizations fighting global warming..."

Photo credit: @rmalo5aapi via Twenty20.

A Cooler Future May Hinge on Removing CO2 From the Air. Will there be new technologies and inventions that scrub the atmosphere of CO2, working like trees to convert CO2 into oxygen and water? Count on it. Here's an excerpt at Climate Central: "Climate pollution equal to about 27 times humans’ 2015 carbon dioxide emissions may have to be removed from the atmosphere and locked underground forever in order to keep the globe from warming beyond 1.5°C (2.7°F) above preindustrial levels, according to a new study. The research, led by scientists at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, or IIASA, in Austria, adds to the mounting evidence that countries will have to physically remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to prevent global warming from exceeding dangerous levels..."

Photo credit: "An oil refinery in Deer Park, Texas." Credit: Roy Luck/flickr

Militants Exploit Growing Competition for Water, Land - Study. You don't think there's a climate-component to mass migrations and civil wars around the planet? Think again. Here's an excerpt from Reuters: "Climate change threatens to increase instability around the world as jihadist groups such as Islamic State and Boko Haram exploit a scarcity of water, food and land to control populations and boost recruitment, a Berlin-based thinktank said on Thursday. Countries already experiencing unrest or negative effects of climate change were most at risk but seemingly stable regions could also be affected by a combination of climate change, rapid urbanisation and increasing inequality, Adelphi said in a study. "Already vulnerable areas could get pulled into a vicious cycle, leading to the rise of terrorist groups who will find it easier to operate, with consequences for us all," said Lukas Rüttinger, author of the report, in a statement. Climate change has been drying up the Lake Chad region, fuelling increased competition for land and water in an area where an insurgency by Boko Haram has uprooted more than 2.4 million people, the report said..."

Photo credit:

Insurgency, Terrorism and  Organized Crime in a Warming Climate. The report referenced above is available here (76 page PDF).

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