Category Archives: Climate Change

Ban Coal: Coal Industry Chemical Threatens 300,000 in West Virginia

FEMA: The federal government sent 75 trucks - each carrying 18,500 liters of water - as well as bottled water to help provide water for those in need

FEMA: The federal government sent 75 trucks – each carrying 18,500 liters of water – as well as bottled water to help provide water for those in need.
 | Reuters

I’m not an advocate for coal so I agree that this report by Juan Cole is on point.

Juan Cole – Informed Comment

Some 300,000 West Virginians are at risk from their tap water after a company making MCHM spilled it into the river, turning it a little purple and making it smell like liquorice. MCHM can be fatal if imbibed, and otherwise it can make you vomit your guts out. It is used to wash coal of impurities.

Coal is destroying the earth. Some 40% of US carbon dioxide emissions come from burning coal. That amounts to 2 billion metric tons of C02 annually that Americans spew into the atmosphere by burning coal. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, extra amounts of which have been building up in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution and it is warming the earth and the seas inexorably. Humankind only has to 2020 to avoid going beyond a temperature increase of 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit. If we go to 7, 8, 9 degrees F. increase, the whole weather system could become chaotic, threatening human life.

But apart from the threat burning coal forms in causing climate change, it is just really bad for you. Burning it releases massive amounts of mercury into the environment. Mercury is a nerve gas. It isn’t normal that you can only eat fish once or twice a week for fear of being mercury-poisoned. There is some evidence that it may be implicated in the increase in autism among children. Burning coal kills 13,000 Americans each year. That is four 9/11 attacks every year. We had a war on terror, but no president dares announce a war on coal.

And now it should be clear that some of the chemicals used in producing coal for power plants are themselves highly toxic and form a constant health threat.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Wind power is just about as inexpensive as coal, now. The American Midwest, the most highly coal-dependent region in the country, is the Saudi Arabia of wind. And, it has substantial potential for solar power generation, as well.

There are already as many American jobs in the solar power industry as there are American workers in coal mines. The workers can be retrained to install solar panels on people’s roofs.

The US and the world need to make a final push to go as green as possible as soon as possible. Coal is a drag on any such effort.

AP reports:

For the evils of coal see:

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Filed under Climate Change, Energy

Everything You Wanted To Know About The ‘Polar Vortex’

A person struggles to cross a street in blowing and falling snow Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in St. Louis.
A person struggles to cross a street in blowing and falling snow Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in St. Louis.
CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JEFF ROBERSON

If you were curious about the term “Polar Vortex” (which actually sounds like a term used in the”climate change”  movie “The Day After Tomorrow“), this article may be helpful…

Think Progress

Indeed, recent temperatures across the U.S. have been Mars-like. Forecasts in the midwest call for temperatures to drop to 32 below zero in Fargo, N.D.; minus 21 in Madison, Wis.; and 15 below zero in Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Chicago. Wind chills have been predicted to fall to negative 60 degrees — a dangerous cold that could break decades-old recordsOn Sunday night, a reporter for The Weather Channel stood in a Minnesota snowstorm, talking about local efforts to move homeless children into heated shelters. “How cold is it supposed to get?” the anchor, back in the studio, asked. The reporter replied: “Colder than Mars.”

All of which begs the question — if climate change is real, then how did it get so cold?

The question is based on common misconceptions of how cold weather moves across the planet, said Greg Laden, a bioanthroplogist who writes for National Geographic’s Scienceblog. According to Laden, the recent record-cold temperatures indicate to many that the Arctic’s cold air is expanding, engulfing other countries. If true, this would be a perfect argument for a “global cooling” theory. The Arctic’s coldness is growing. Laden asks, “How can such a thing happen with global warming?”

The answer, he writes, is that the Arctic air that usually sits on top of our planet is “taking an excursion” south for a couple of days, leaving the North Pole “relatively warm” and our temperate region not-so-temperate. “Go Home Arctic, You’re Drunk,” he titled the explanation.

“The Polar Vortex, a huge system of moving swirling air that normally contains the polar cold air, has shifted so it is not sitting right on the pole as it usually does,” Laden writes. “We are not seeing an expansion of cold, an ice age, or an anti-global warming phenomenon. We are seeing the usual cold polar air taking an excursion. So, this cold weather we are having does not disprove global warming.”

In fact, some scientists have theorized that the influx of extreme cold is actually fueled by effects of climate change. Jennifer Francis, a research professor at Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Science, told ClimateProgress on Monday that it’s not the Arctic who is drunk. It’s the jet stream.

The "drunk" jet stream on Jan. 6, 2014.The “drunk” jet stream on Jan. 6, 2014.

“The drunk part is that the jet stream is in this wavy pattern, like a drunk walking along,” Francis, who primarily studies Arctic links to global weather patterns, said. “In other places, you could see the tropics are drunk.”

Arctic warming, she said, is causing less drastic changes in temperatures between northern and southern climates, leading to weakened west-to-east winds, and ultimately, a wavier jet stream. The stream’s recent “waviness” has been taking coldness down to the temperate United States and leaving Alaska and the Arctic relatively warm, Francis said. The same thing has been happening in other countries as well. Winter storms have been pounding the U.K., she noted, while Scandinavia is having a very warm winter.

“This kind of pattern is going to be more likely, and has been more likely,” she said. “Extremes on both ends are a symptom. Wild, unusual temperatures of both sides, both warmer and colder.”

Francis’ research, however, is still disputed. Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth, a distinguished senior climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told ClimateProgress on Monday that he was skeptical of Francis’ assessment.

“Jennifer’s work shows a correlation, but correlation is not causation,” he cautioned. “In fact it is much more likely to work the other way around.”

Instead of Francis’ theory that a warm Arctic moves the jet stream, Trenberth said it could be that the jet stream moves, leading to a warmer Arctic. And Francis’ theory could work if the Arctic was, in fact, particularly warm and iceless — at the moment, in winter, the Arctic is cooler and icier.

“I am not saying there is no [climate change] influence, but in midwinter, the energy in these big storms is huge and the climate change influence is impossible to find statistically,” he said. “So we have to fall back on understanding the processes and mechanisms.”

Still, Trenberth — based in Boulder, CO., — just had 11 inches of snow on Saturday, which he said is the third largest ever for the month. Normally the area gets only light, fluffy snow. But, he said temperatures on Friday were 62 degrees, making for extra moisture and heat, “probably” contributing to the extra snow. The incident mimics what Trenberth’s research has shown — that increased moisture and heat from climate change has an effect on weather events.

“The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question,” he has written. “All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be.”

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New York City, Philadelphia, Atlantic City Break Temperature Records During December Heat Wave

The New York skyline, including the Empire State Building, is shown in this Dec. 1, 2013 aerial photo. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

We’re experiencing similar temperatures here in Atlanta.  Yet, those climate change deniers (mostly big oil supporters) turn a blind eye to this ever increasing problem…

The Huffington Post

New York City, Philadelphia and Atlantic City, N.J., have broken temperature records during a brief December heat wave.

The National Weather Service says the temperature in Central Park hit a record-setting 65 degrees Saturday. The previous record was 62, set in 2011 and 1923.

Philadelphia and Atlantic City, N.J., reached 67 degrees on Saturday afternoon. That broke Atlantic City’s previous mark of 63 degrees, set in 2011, and bested Philadelphia’s previous high of 66 degrees, set in 1895.

The temperature rose to a balmy 68 in Wilmington, Del., beating the previous mark of 65, set in 1895. And the 64 degrees recorded in Newark, N.J. broke the previous mark of 62, set in 2011.

Sunday is supposed to be even warmer in the region. Temperatures could top 70.

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House Republican ready to ‘defund the EPA’

H/t: Maddow commenter #1:

When House Republicans gather …Remind you of anything?

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.” 
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

The Maddow Blog

 

And when it comes to “calling out” climate deniers, congressional Republicans are certainly giving progressives plenty to work with lately. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), the vice chair of the House Science Committee, argued last week that “global warming is a total fraud” created by those who want “global government to control all of our lives.” A few days prior, Rep.Steve King (R-Iowa) described the entirety of climate science as “more of a religion than a science.”

And then there’s Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), who made these startling comments at a forum in his local district this week. (Thanks to James Carter for the heads-up.)

 

In this unnerving clip, Miller argues in a room full of people, “This whole Al Gore thing of climate change unfortunately is not doing this nation any good.”

And while you might be thing, “Well, no, of course climate change isn’t doing the nation any good,” in context, Miller meant worrying about climate change is a bad idea.

Wait, it gets worse.

The right-wing congressman went on to say, “I will defund the EPA.” When Miller was asked about warnings from the Navy about the national security threat posed by the climate crisis, one of his constituents shouted, “The admirals are idiots!” The congressman proceeded to explain why he has no use for the Navy’s judgment, and says he has his own scientists who tell him what he wants to hear, and just “a few years ago,” some wacky scientists warned we’d “all be ice cubes.”

Miller concluded, “Our climate will continue to change because of the way God formed the earth.”

Miller is a 10-year veteran of Congress who currently serves as the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Change Denial, Right Wing Myths and Falsehoods

Conservative media’s attacks on climate science effectively erode viewers’ belief in scientists

The Raw Story

When conservatives come away from Fox News feeling ever more certain that climate change is a hoax, it may have something to do with an overall attack on scientists as authorities to be trusted.

So argues a paper published in the August issue of peer-reviewed journal Public Understanding of Science, which connects the conservative disbelief in man-made climate change to a media-driven effort by conservatives to foment broad distrust of scientists.

“Cause and effect is always perilous,” said Jay Hmielowski of the University of Arizona, one of the authors of the study, to Raw Story. But of the conservative media’s attempts to portray climate science in a negative light, “it’s clear that their communication about scientists and global warming is effective.”

The authors used a polling sample of media consumption habits and political views taken in 2008, then compared a smaller sample from the same group reinterviewed about two-and-a-half years later. Researchers asked them which media outlets they watched and listened to, along with their belief in climate science and their trust of scientists.

More consumption of media identified as conservative – Fox News, Rush Limbpaugh and the like – correlated positively with both a loss of trust in the scientific community and a lack of belief that climate change was happening, Hmielowski said. And more consumption of other kinds of news media led to more trust in scientists and a greater degree of belief in climate change. Attitudes polarized over time, in direct relation to the amount and type of media consumed.

“What you’re seeing at the first time point is leading to belief in the second time point,” Hmielowski said.

The irony, though, is that an academic study examining conservative media resistance to climate science may itself be likely to win an attack by the conservative media. Hmielowski, citing previous academic studies, noted that “this coverage often includes specific critiques of mainstream scientists such as ‘the denigration of peer-reviewed, scholarly journals and scientific institutions by contrarian scientists’.”

But Hmielowski thinks he’s probably safe. “We’re not going after them directly – I mean, we’re showing that their message is effective – so I can’t imagine that they’re going to react to it.”

 

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Kansas’ New Science Standards Make Evolution And Climate Change Key Part Of Curriculum

Kansas Board Of Education

Kansas State Board of Education members Ken Willard and Steve Roberts. (Image credit: John Hanna/AP)

The question used to be: “What’s the matter with Kansas?”  Now we can say with just a hint of trepidation that it looks like Kansas has finally awaken from it’s own personal dark ages…

The Huffington Post

The Kansas State Board of Education voted Tuesday to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a new science curriculum that treats evolution and climate change as fact and promotes hands-on learning.

Officials in Kansas previously helped craft the K-12 curriculum with the help of 25 other states and several national organizations. The standards have already been approved by state boards in Rhode Island and Kentucky, according to Education Week.

The Kansas board passed the new standards in an 8-2 vote, and encountered significantly less opposition to evolution and climate change principles than in the past, reports the Associated Press. The state voted to weaken evolution teaching in 1999 and 2005, although it adopted an evolution-friendly science curriculum in 2007.

Nonetheless a report released Thursday by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute claims Kansas’ previous standards were “clearly superior” to the NGSS. The reviewers make no mention of the standards’ treatment of evolution or climate change, but they say the approved curriculum overlooks key concepts and places too much emphasis on hands-on learning.

“We think that the ones you are ushering out the door are superior,” Institute President Chester Finn said in a conference call with reporters, per the Associated Press. “I hope you give them a very nice going-away party.”

While Kansas updates its statewide curriculum, a school board in Ohio is currently considering adopting creationism into its curriculum, despite opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Volumes on Map of New York 1979-2012

Visuals that have no narration, sometimes says it all…

From the author:

Andy Lee Robinson 2 days ago

…it started off as a ‘simple’ raytraced illustration showing the difference between 1979 and 2012 requested by Joe Romm for a Think Progress article on Cryosat II measurements confirming the PIOMAS data.

I then wanted to see how it would look evolving through the years, which was quite a challenge – I had to write all the code specifically, and it took weeks!

 

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Filed under Climate Change, Global Warming

520 scientists sign statement on Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century

Full disclosure: I went to a Lutheran elementary school and middle school/High School.  I’m baptized and I believe in  a “Higher Power” than myself.  Oh and I watch as much scientific programming on TV as I can and read a lot of books.  So clearly, what I’m about to say has nothing to do with some hidden or overt bias against religion.

I’m one of those people who respect every religious view, unless it harms me, my family and/or humanity.

Those who would discredit the fact that our planet is approximately 4.5 billion years old and say instead that we’ve only been on this earth since the Creation which is roughly between 6000 -10,000 years, have a fatal flaw in my opinion.  The problem is, many Congressmen and Senators have the same view, and their legislation and policies have reflected that myopia on the subject many times over.

Their denial is costing us dearly in terms of  polar ice caps meltingocean variability  and simply put, life.

I recall a scene in the movie Titanic in which some people did everything possible to keep from drowning.  Then there were a few who consciously or unconsciously tried to pull people down with them as they drowned.  That’s how I see some fundamentalists who deny climate change and it’s a frightening thought.

To deny that our planet is in trouble due to climate change when you are a State or Federal lawmaker and pass or reject bills accordingly is a grave injustice to the rest of the world population.  It’s selfish, arrogant, ignorant and shameful.

Daily Kos

In the one month since it was written, 520 global scientists have signed on to this statement. You can, too. There is more information, including ideas for solutions, at Stanford University’s Millenium Alliance for Humanity & the Biosphere website.

Earth is rapidly approaching a tipping point. Human impacts are causing alarming levels of harm to our planet. As scientists who study the interaction of people with the rest of the biosphere using a wide range of approaches, we agree that the evidence that humans are damaging their ecological life-support systems is overwhelming.We further agree that, based on the best scientific information available, human quality of life will suffer substantial degradation by the year 2050 if we continue on our current path.

Science unequivocally demonstrates the human impacts of key concern:

  • Climate disruption—more, faster climate change than since humans first became a species.
  • Extinctions—not since the dinosaurs went extinct have so many species and populations died out so fast, both on land and in the oceans.
  • Wholesale loss of diverse ecosystems—we have plowed, paved, or otherwise transformed more than 40% of Earth’s ice-free land, and no place on land or in the sea is free of our direct or indirect influences.
  • Pollution—environmental contaminants in the air, water and land are at record levels and increasing, seriously harming people and wildlife in unforeseen ways.
  • Human population growth and consumption patterns—seven billion people alive today will likely grow to 9.5 billion by 2050, and the pressures of heavy material consumption among the middle class and wealthy may well intensify.

By the time today’s children reach middle age, it is extremely likely that Earth’s life-support systems, critical for human prosperity and existence, will be irretrievably damaged by the magnitude, global extent, and combination of these human-caused environmental stressors, unless we take concrete, immediate actions to ensure a sustainable, high-quality future.

As members of the scientific community actively involved in assessing the biological and societal impacts of global change, we are sounding this alarm to the world. For humanity’s continued health and prosperity, we all—individuals, businesses, political leaders, religious leaders, scientists, and people in every walk of life—must work hard to solve these five global problems, starting today: 1. Climate Disruption 2. Extinctions 3. Loss of Ecosystem Diversity 4. Pollution 5. Human Population Growth and Resource Consumption.

The full statement has been signed by 520 global scientists from 44 countries. Those signatures were obtained within a month of completion of the statement, by direct email requests from the authors and their close colleagues to a targeted group of well-regarded global change scientists.   The signers include 2 Nobel Laureates, 33 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences,   42 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and several members of various European scientific academies.

PEOPLE WISHING TO READ THE FULL SUMMARY OR THE ENTIRE REPORT CAN FIND THEM AT http://mahb.stanford.edu.

AT THE SAME SITE PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO ENDORSE THE REPORT IF YOU AGREE WITH IT.  THE MORE ENDOSEMENTS THERE ARE FROM PEOPLE IN EVERY WALK OF LIFE, BETTER THE CHANCE THAT DECISION-MAKERS WILL PAY ATTENTION AND START TO TAKE ACTION.

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD AS FAR AS POSSIBLE AND URGE THOSE YOU KNOW TO SPEND A COUPLE OF MINUTES TO REGISTER THEIR SUPPORT.

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Filed under Climate Change, Earth

Alex Jones Explains How Government “Weather Weapon” Could Have Been Behind Oklahoma Tornado

Where do these people come from?  Instead of admitting that “climate change” is happening before our eyes, people like Alex Jones prefer to make money off of tragedy by perpetuating conspiracy theories…dang!

Media Matters

The Government “Can Create And Steer Groups Of Tornadoes,” But Jones Isn’t Sure That Happened In Oklahoma

Conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones explained to his audience today how the government could have been behind the devastating May 20 tornado in Oklahoma.

On the May 21 edition of The Alex Jones Show, a caller asked Jones whether he was planning to cover how government technology may be behind a recent spate of sinkholes. After laying out how insurance companies use weather modification to avoid having to pay ski resorts for lack of snow, Jones said that “of course there’s weather weapon stuff going on — we had floods in Texas like fifteen years ago, killed thirty-something people in one night. Turned out it was the Air Force.”

Following a long tangent, Jones returned to the caller’s subject. While he explained that “natural tornadoes” do exist and that he’s not sure if a government “weather weapon” was involved in the Oklahoma disaster, Jones warned nonetheless that the government “can create and steer groups of tornadoes.”

According to Jones, this possibility hinges on whether people spotted helicopters and small aircraft “in and around the clouds, spraying and doing things.” He added, “if you saw that, you better bet your bottom dollar they did this, but who knows if they did. You know, that’s the thing, we don’t know.”

Video Link (Media Matters)

You Tube:

In April, Jones garnered attention for labeling the Boston Marathon bombings a “false flag” event staged by the U.S. government. Over the years, Jones has endorsed a wide array of paranoid conspiracies, including alleging that the U.S. government carried out or was somehow involved in the 9-11 attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, and recent mass shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary school and the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

Despite his well-publicized career of pushing conspiracies, Jones is regularly validated by media figures and conservative politicians. Jones’ biggest ally has been Matt Drudge, whose heavily trafficked Drudge Report website has linked to at least 244 different articles at Jones’ Infowars website since April 2011.

In the midst of the controversy over Jones’ comments about the Boston bombings, Drudge announced that he had “privately told friends” that 2013 would be the “year of Alex Jones.”

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Filed under Climate Change, Conspiracy Theories