THE BLOG
12/19/2013 04:44 pm ET Updated Feb 18, 2014

Climate Change This Week: Arctic Thermal Hole, Megadrought Now? and More!

Find the news below grim? Remember that you can make a difference by switching to clean energy, whether or not you own a home. Check out how others are also making a difference in "On the Bright Side", following these highlights.

Earth May Be Much More Sensitive to Global Warming than previously thought, say experts at the Geological Society of London, reports Alex Kirby at Climate Central. That's because most climate models take into account only rapid, short term factors. But, as shown in the paleo record, longer term consequences, such as the melting of ice sheets, can double the short term calculated sensitivity of Earth to this warming .

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Putting the climate genie back into the lantern isn't an option, but cutting off the smoke fueling it is. Save money and buy a healthier future for those you love - invest in clean renewable energy today. For more options and actions, see below.

New Greenhouse Gas 7,000 Times More Powerful Than CO2 reports Suzanne Goldenberg at the UK Guardian. The gas, perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA), has been in use by the electrical industry since the 1950s. Right now it's a minor heat trapper (CO2 is still tops), but it is unregulated, persists about 500 years, and not absorbed by land, sea or ecosystems. So, regulating it is important. There are also other, little-known, potent greenhouse gases out there, thanks to industrial air pollution, say experts at NASA. Time to find out how many, how much, and what to regulate.

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The US West Could Be in a Megadrought say experts, reports Bobby Magill at Climate Central. A megadrought, lasting 20 or more years, is highly likely this century, and will be enhanced likely by climate change, said researchers at the 2013 American Geophysical Union meeting, a mecca for thousands of reputable climate and other scientists. The current 13-year drought is occurring at a time of sweeping and abrupt changes in US forests resulting from both the drought and human-caused climate change, said one. These vast changes in ecosystems are happening incredibly fast, noted another.

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Scandinavia Is a Global Model in Sustainability as it sheds a dirtier, oil-dependent past, reports Daniel Haugen at Ensia. These countries are a mecca for green energy, design and policy, boasting some of the world's most efficient buildings, lowest fossil fuel use and boldest emission targets. Big goals coupled with big investments have been key. Now if they could stop burning our forests (see next item), switch mostly to clean renewable energy, and forego selling fossil fuels, it truly would be a model green heaven...

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Video screen capture, Mary Ellen Harte, at mongabay

@@ Featured video: US Forests Decimated For 'Green' Bio-Energy In Europe
US carbon-storing forests are endangered in the South, but what isn't being eaten by beetles is being sold and burned as "biofuel" in Europe.... Check out this compelling video at Mongabay.

OO Climate Change: It's Not a Game, and It's Never Over - the stuff called hope...

* * * ARCTIC SNOWBALLS.... * * *

*Arctic Warming Driving More Extreme Summer Heat Waves, Droughts And Deluges, says a new study, reports Joe Romm at Climate Progress. Rapid Arctic ice loss has amplified its warming, which is amplifying extreme weather in the northern hemisphere by strengthening or weakening the jet stream.

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As global warming reduces the difference in temperature between the equator and the poles, the jet streams have moved poleward. Via Climate Central.

**Arctic Warming Causing Wide Temperature Swings, Vast Rapid Ecosystem Changes notes the latest Arctic Report Card, compiled internationally by nearly 150 scientists, reports Andrew Freedman at Climate Central. Eurasia, for example, had an unusually cold winter followed by an unusually warm spring. Ecosystem changes include a global greening tundra and fish stocks migrating into the Arctic Ocean.

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OO The Arctic thermal hole (no ice) will last the whole summer by 2026 at current rates of ice loss, or even sooner if current acceleration of the melt is factored in. Then, watch out -- the extra heat is likely to double global warming. Credit: PIOMAS data, graphic by Ramez Naam.

***Arctic Summer Thermal Hole Possibly by 2016 predicts the US Navy, 84 years ahead of schedule, reports Nafeez Ahmed at the UK Guardian. Initially, it will last a few days in late summer. But by 2026, when it is estimated to last the entire summer, the resulting summer-long polar thermal hole will trap far more heat, 24 hours/day in mid-summer, as harmful extra sunlight is absorbed by newly exposed dark waters, heating them and the air above them further. This is estimated to roughly double the rate of global warming.

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Climate Change Threatens Retirement Savings concludes a group that monitors how asset managers address the risks of climate, reports Alex Kirby at Climate News Network. Most managers are not, exposing their customers' life savings to severe risk. The risk? Investing in fossil fuels. Most fossil fuels will have to be left unburned to prevent further catastrophic climate change. Either way, people stand to lose their savings either from a crash in fossil fuel prices as fossil fuels phase out, or from trying to recover from the ravages of increasingly extreme weather.

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Credit Mary Ellen Harte

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>>>>>

OO Book: Cold Cash , Cool Climate - entrepreneurs are key to meaningful climate action says author Jon Koomey, and much more; check it out!

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

Alan Kay

>>>>>

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☼☼☼ On the Bright Side ☼☼☼

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(>(>(> PEOPLE SPEAK OUT <)<)<)

OO US Northeast States Ask EPA To Crack Down On Midwest Pollution

OO US Justices Voice Support For Air Pollution Regulation

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OO California: 150+ Green Groups Push for Offshore Fracking Ban

OO Texas: Houston Mayor - We Need Tough Decisions on Climate

OO Wisconsin: Voiced Concerns May Water Down Pro Fracking Bill

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OO 3 US Senators Ask EPA to Check On Safety of Enbridge Pipeline

OO Environmentalists, Unions Push to Fix Gas Leaks

OO US Scientists Call For More Fracking Data Collection, Transparency - without enough data, the impacts of fracking remain unknown, they assert.

☼☼☼Acting Like You Care: The XL Keystone pipeline will make possible far more climate change, but President Obama might okay it anyway. Credo, 350 org and others are asking people to stand up and be counted as nonviolent resisters or help in other ways. I did. If you ever wanted to do something big for your future, now's your chance - here.
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OO Environmentalists Plead Case Against Keystone XL Pipeline at the US State Dept

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OO Australia: Climate Council Warns To Brace For More Raging Bushfires, Longer Heatwaves

OO Germany: Berliners Still Fighting to Pull the Plug on Coal-Fired Utility

OO Chevron Halts Romania Shale Work After Protest

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Man with a mission: Neil Young. Credit Per Ole Hagen at wikimedia commons.

OO Canada: Neil Young Helps Bankroll First Nation's Oilsands Battle

OO China State Media Under Fire For Arguing Benefits Of Smog

OO China Admits It's Poorly Prepared To Fight Climate Change Impacts - admitting you have a problem is part of the solution.

☼☼☼ BRIGHT IDEAS ☼☼☼

OO Democratizing Solar Power With Community Funding and Crowdsourcing

OO Retail Utilities Count On Smart Meters To Succeed In Solar

OO Upping Apartment Building Efficiency with Better Data

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OO How IBM Uses Local Weather Forecasts to Boost Clean Energy


OO Energy Efficiency Ideas for 2014: Rate Escalation, RTUs and Drones


OO Big Renewable-Friendly Battery From Hitachi

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OO Green Energy Storage for Microgrids: the Fly Wheel

OO Michigan: 'Breakthrough' Solar-Battery Device

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A cow, also known as a methane generator; so is its manure. Credit tractorboy60 wikimedia commons

OO How US Farms Are Using Cow Manure For Renewable Energy

OO Wind Turbines On Farms 'Can Help UK Meet Food And Energy Needs'

OO Offshore Wind Farms Could Protect Cities from Hurricanes - yeah, 10,000s of them....

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OO Production Short-Cut May Lead To Wider Use Of Hydrogen, A Clean Fuel

OO Washing Hands In Hot Water Wastes Energy study says.

☼☼☼ BRIGHT SIDE, STATESIDE ☼☼☼

OO DOE Outlines the Path Forward for Energy Storage

OO As Part Of Renewable Energy Strategy, Obama Pushes "Green Button" Policy -
an emphasis on customer access to energy usage data.

OO Republicans, Democrats Agree: Climate Change Needs Attention - at least at the local level...

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Credit Dennis Schroeder/NREL

OO US Solar Becoming Mainstream - from the perspective of power generation, and how the electric and banking industries view it.

OO US Will Top Germany In Solar Power in 2013 first time in 15 years.

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OO Just How Much Are Solar and Wind Really Contributing? Let us count the watts:

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In 2012, wind power generated 3.4% of the electricity in the US, 10 times what it was a decade ago. Via greentechmedia.

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GreenTechMedia: The solar power created in 2012 made up just 0.3 percent of total US electrical generation. But it was a 74% increase from 2011. "And with the price of solar becoming more competitive, there's every reason to think that high growth rates can be sustained."

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OO New Vehicles Set Record Fuel Economy In 2012, EPA Reports

OO Tesla Motors Plans To Debut Cheaper E Car In Early 2015

OO Ford, GM to Get $50M in Tax Credits to Build Greener Cars

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OO 7 Trends in Home Energy in 2013 and What They Mean for 2014

OO Winning the Waste War in US Military Buildings

OO FirstFuel Lands $8.5M for Building Efficiency Software

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California's largest thermal plant, Ivanpah.

OO California: Even on Short Winter Days, It's Breaking Solar Energy Records

OO Xcel to Boost Its Wind, Solar Power Supply in Colorado

OO Michigan Among Leaders for Clean Energy Growth

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OO New York Court Rules To Keep State's Greenhouse Gas Control Program Alive

OO Ohio 'Ahead of the Curve' for Closing Coal-Fired Power Plants

OO Texas: Looks Like Dallas Just Banned Fracking

☼☼☼ BRIGHT SIDE, WORLDWIDE ☼☼☼

OO European Development Bank to Focus on Energy Efficiency, Slash Coal Power Funding

OO China Outlines Climate Change Adaptation Plans

OO Solar Boom Boosts South African Salaries With 25% Jobless

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The flag flies, May 21, 2013.

At Moore, OK, the day after a huge tornado demolished it.

Credit Major Jon Quinlan/defenseimagery mil

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***** US Climate Change News *****

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OO EPA Plans to Dramatically Reduce Industry Inspections, Civil Enforcement Cases

OO Worries Over Wild Weather Grow For Farmers, Insurers

OO Alaska Broke Record Highs as Lower 48 Froze
The same contorted jet stream pattern that brought brutal cold to the lower 48 states pushed a pulse of milder-than-average air into Alaska ... this ties into how the Arctic melting is affecting our jet stream, as noted in the highlighted headlines at the top.

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OO Top 10 Environmental Stories of 2013 - here are clues to some of them: 400 ppm, Haiyan, Asian haze, Amazon deforestation, Arctic Greenpeace.

OO Warming Sends A Chill Through US Ski Industry

OO US Rapidly Losing Wetlands, partly from Climate Change - 360,000+ acres of freshwater and saltwater wetlands in the past 4 years to fierce storms, sea-level rise and booming development along the coasts, says a new fed study.

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Credit Kelvin Kay at wikimedia commons

Everything we consume comes with a climate change price. Think about giving time and food to family and friends, or gifts from the recycle cycle: vintage or thrift shops, estate or yard sales. Credit Kelvin Kay, wikimedia commons.

OO Average American Consumes 50,000 lbs Of Raw Materials Annually For Stuff They Buy - yup, and climate change is part of the price of making it....

OO Yellowstone Park Is Warming, Drying Under Climate Change

OO Sea Level, Flood Risk Rising in the US Mid-Atlantic
Sea levels along the highly populated U.S. Mid-Atlantic coast are rising faster than they have over the past 4,300 years. Sell now, before the flooding gets worse...

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OO The Dark Side Of The West's Oil And Gas Boom - it's the eventual bust.

OO US Drilling Boom Leaves Some Homeowners In A Big Hole

OO Fracking Hell: Life Next To A Shale Gas Well

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OO Experts Eye Oil and Gas Industry as Earthquakes Rattle Oklahoma - last week, it was Texas that was rattling near fracking... anyone see a pattern here?

OO BP Gulf Oil Spill Study Reveals Extensive Damage in Shoreline, Deepwater Habitats

OO American Petroleum Institute Threatens Lawsuit Over South Portland Oil Sands Ban - big oil tries to force feed a town.

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See how pipelines fragment forests? wikimedia commons.

OO Gas Pipeline Boom Fragmenting Pennsylvania's Forests

OO 300+ US Coal Units Are No Longer Cost-Effective

OO Four Proposed US Coal Export Terminals Nixed Due To 'Diminished' Market

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Via the University of East Anglia Climate Change webpage

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<<<< Climate Change Round the World >>>>

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OO China's Coal Emissions Responsible For 250,000 Premature Deaths

OO China: Pilots Forced To Learn 'Blind Land' In Heavy Smog - is this called adaptation?

OO China: Shanghai Lowers Clean Air Standards After Embarrassing Week Of Pollution - when conditions get tough, pretend they aren't.

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OO India: Extreme Weather Deepens Crisis For Kashmir's Nomadic Tribes

OO Indian Villagers Struggle To Save Land As Islands Shrink In Sundarban

OO Population, Climate Pressures Imperil Solomon Islands' Food Security

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OO November 2013 Hottest on Record: No matter how cold it got in your neighborhood, 2013 includes the hottest November since records began. The average global temperature from 1950-1981 as a baseline. You can see where the planet's been - and where it's going. The graph was made with NASA data, and comes via scienceblogs.com

OO Australia: Environment Minister Approves Coalport Near Great Barrier Reef

OO Indonesian Palm Oil Company Demolishes Homes, Evicts Villagers In Week-Long Raid

OO Africa: Climate Makes Refugees Out Of Young Ghanaians

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OO Peru: Climate Change Threatens Poverty Reduction Mission

OO Ecuador: Govt Shuts Down Indigenous Rights Organization Over Oil Battle

OO Brazil: In Midst Of Worst Drought In 50 Years, Deadly Flooding - the pattern of droughts and extreme storms has been predicted to become more likely as the climate warms.

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A warming climate is allowing mealy bugs like these infest bananas; they create a sticky substance that promotes mold growth as well. Via wikipedia.

OO Costa Rica: Climate Change Helps Create Banana Pest Emergency - as warming allows pests to proliferate.

OO British Taxpayers To Pay For Fracking Pollution If Companies Go Bust - how much you want to bet that the same applies in the US?

OO Britain: Flood Insurance Scheme Ignores Danger From Future Climate Change


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OO UK Fracking Industry's PR Offensive Misleading Public

OO Maps Show Risks of Increased Flash Flooding in England

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Credit Kay Korner at wikimedia commons.

OO Human-Caused Climate Change May Have Worsened Syrian Unrest

OO Canada: Oil Pipelines Accidents Devalue Nearby Properties

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Ten Global Warming Indicators. Credit NOAA

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(((((((( Seeking the Science ))))))))

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OO What Climate Change Does To Our Minds

OO Study Adds to Arctic Warming, Extreme Weather Debate

OO Thawing Arctic Throwing Climate Out Of Kilter

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OO Arctic Sea-Ice Melt Linked To Extreme Summer Weather

OO Reforestation Alone Can't Offset Massive Fossil Fuels Emissions

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The birder's ultimate bird, Wilson's Bird-of-Paradise requires a healthy rainforest to survive. Credit Serhanoksay at wikipedia.

OO Deforestation May Be Increasing More Than Satellites See

OO Climate Change Bodes Ill For Bats - as if they weren't in enough trouble already...

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@@@ Climate Change in the Media @@@

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@@ LOE: Worrisome Arctic Ocean Methane Leaks

@@ LIVING ON EARTH @@ PRI's Environmental News Magazine, covers climate change and other fascinating topics as well. Check it out!

!!!! Want to Save Energy & Help the Planet? Check out these helpful EPA Climate Change youtubers here! !!!!

@@ At Last, a Green Radio Show to counter the Lush Bimbaugh wasteland. Check out On the Green Front with Betsy Rosenberg at Progressive Radio Network to keep updated on climate change, and other green topics.
@@ Video: America's Dangerous Pipelines - the title says it all; compelling ....
To help you understand just what science does and does NOT do, check this out!
Every day is Earth Day, folks, as I was reminded by this sunlit Chilean "Christmas tree" I photographed recently sprouting on a beach. Making the U.S. a global clean energy leader will ensure a heck of a lot more jobs, and a clean, safe future. If you'd like to join the increasing numbers of people who want to TELL Congress that they will vote for clean energy candidates you can do so here. It's our way of letting Congress know there's a strong clean energy voting bloc out there. For more detailed summaries of the above and other climate change items, audio podcasts and texts are freely available.

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