THE BLOG

Climate Change This Week: Earth's Thermal Shield Melting, Fracking NIMBY, and More!

02/27/2014 09:52 pm ET | Updated Apr 29, 2014

Today, the Earth got a little hotter, and a little more crowded.

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Daily Climate Change: Global Map of Unusual Temperatures, Feb 27 2014

How unusual has the weather been? No one event is "caused" by climate change, but global warming, which is predicted to increase unusual, extreme weather, is having a daily effect on weather, worldwide. Looking above at recent temperature anomalies and the jetstream, the polar aneurism over the US has changed but persists, while the North Pole and surroundings is experiencing much warmer than normal temperatures - not good news for our Arctic thermal shield of ice. Hotter than usual temperatures continue to dominate human habitats. (Add 0.3-0.4 C to have these anomaly values calibrate with those of NASA.) Daily updates of can be seen here for both the temperature anomalies map, and the jetstream map. For real time animated US surface wind patterns, click here, and here, for the planet. (Clicking on "earth" there reveals data and map options.)

Obama's New Truck Fuel Standards To Result In Big Emission Cuts reports Ari Philipps at Climate Progress. The higher fuel efficiency standards will affect trucks that created 7% of all US carbon emissions in 2011, and will save users $50 billion in lifetime fuel costs. The rules should roll out by 2016, says the UK Guardian, and Obama's action illustrates his new operating mode: sidestepping the 'Do Nothing on Climate' Congress with direct executive action. Shame on you, Congress, for not doing YOUR duty!

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January 2014 Fourth Warmest Globally since records began in 1880, reports Brian Kahn at Climate Central. It continued a solid streak in above average temperatures for almost 29 years. Global average temperatures were also among their top 10 warmest for the ninth straight month, according to NOAA data. January 2014 set other records, too, reports Jeff Spross at Climate Progress: third-wettest January on record for Britain, the fifth-wettest for Australia, the fifth-driest on record for the U.S., and the second-warmest since 1961 for China. Arctic sea ice hit its fourth-lowest level on record

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Hedge Funds, Private Equity Firms Ramp Up Renewable Energy Investments reports Justin Doom at Bloomberg News. What's driving this are projections of stable yields of 8 percent to 10 percent in the next few years -- better than most corporate bonds. Wind farms and industrial-scale solar plants typically have decades-long deals, known as power-purchase agreements, to sell electricity to utilities. Meanwhile, Google continues to make huge investments in clean energy, reports Mark Berniker at CNBC News. Because top silicon valley companies (eg, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft) use huge amounts of energy, they're in a race to lead in clean renewable energies.

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Video screen capture Mary Ellen Harte.

OO Watch 27 Years Of 'Old' Arctic Ice Melt Away In Seconds

Earth's Thermal Shield, Arctic Ice, Drops to Record Lows in February 2014, reports Ryan Koronowski at Climate Progress, when temperatures warmed above normal, even in perpetual Arctic winter darkness. The Arctic has already warmed over 3.5°F since the 1970s, and federal scientists warned recently it could warm up to 23°F by 2100, likely ensuring the disappearance of Earth's thermal shield during the entire arctic summer, when it is most needed. Total loss of summer Arctic ice is estimated to double global warming. Ready to act yet?

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OO Total loss of summer Arctic ice is estimated to DOUBLE global warming.

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It's Melting, Melting... Loss of Earth's Thermal Shield To Speed Warming Faster Than Thought says a new study, reports Ari Philipps at Climate Progress. The Arctic ice cover is shrinking dramatically in area, volume and ice density - translation: Earth's Arctic thermal shield is a shell of its former self, can be broken up by storms, and is getting worse. As white ice is replaced by dark water, much more sunlight gets absorbed, heating the water. The new study finds that the darkness of the water, and hence its ability to absorb sunlight, is much greater than previously thought. Thus, it will speed up global warming far more than previously estimated.

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OO This British youtuber, The Banker, played by "State of Play" star Bill Nighy, is deadpan hilarious: a banker squirms, downplaying how a tiny tax on financial speculations could produce over $100 billion in funds to address poverty and climate change. See its equally hilarious sequel, set in 2024, as well -- Both are must-sees!! Screen capture, Mary Ellen Harte

Bankers Could Be Heroes -- And Even Stop Floods! reports Bill Nighy at the UK Guardian, by adopting a teeny weeny tax (0.05%) on speculative banking. The Financial Transaction Tax (aka the Robin Hood Tax) could potentially raise over $30 billion in funds yearly in the UK alone to address poverty and climate change. It has widespread support from over 1000 economists, senior financiers, Bill Gates, the Vatican, and people across the UK and Europe. As it is, reports Sophie Yeo at Responding To Climate Change, France and Germany want to launch such a tax along with 9 other European nations by May 2014. Now imagine what the US could do if it followed their example...

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With No End In Sight, California's Drought Endangers Public Health reports Jeff Spross at Climate Progress, in several ways: as groundwater sources shrink, contaminants within them - farming, fracking, and industrial pollutants, and natural arsenic - can concentrate to hazardous levels. Dry conditions turn creeks and ponds into stagnant pools, perfect breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes, while the resulting dust worsens asthma and lung problems. Meanwhile, the weather forecast almost certainly ensures drought for the rest of 2014. Sounds like a great time to get rooftop solar...

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Which is the better investment, wind power or natural gas? The answer might surprise you. Credit Mary Ellen Harte (left), University of Texas (right).

Wind Farms Remain 'Highly Efficient' For 25 Years says a new study, reports Sophie Yeo at Responding To Climate Change. This means their 'shelf life' is longer than previously thought, which makes them a good choice for investors. Furthermore, wind power can fill in the gap when demand surges, as wind did recently during a Texas cold snap. Now compare wind farms with US fracking wells: nearly 30% of US oil now comes from expensive fracking wells whose production declines 60-70% within their first year, reports Asjylyn Loder at Bloomberg Businessweek. Which would you rather invest in?

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!

Exxon CEO Comes Out Against Fracking Project -- Wait, wait, don't tell me --- uhhhhhhh - because it will affect his property values?

Yes! Yes!!

OO Exxon CEO Is A Fracking NIMBY - So here's your chance to tell him that we're all fracking NIMBYs!! You can sign the petition here applauding his "activism", and asking him to propose a ban on all fracking... Well, we gotta start somewhere with these guys!

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"Actually, honey, we could pass it off as an art installation, dontchya think?"

Source: Fort Worth Citizens Against Neighborhood Drilling Ordinance.

This Year's Weird Winter Extremes writes Philip Newell at Climate Nexus, include a record-breaking dry year for California, record-breaking precipitation in the United Kingdom, record-breaking warmth in Siberia and other parts of Russia, and record-breaking cold and heat in the US caused by abnormal behavior of the jetstream, creating a polar vortex that pumped heat into Alaska as it funneled Arctic cold deep into the midwest and south to Georgia. How exciting!! I can hardly wait for next year!

Discovery of the Week:

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1 in 4 Americans Don't Know That the Earth Orbits the Sun

OO an NSF poll finds. Remember, folks: Friends let other friends know - gently! - that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

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Book of the week:

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OO Facing the Change, Personal Encounters with Global Warming

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@@ NOW You too can be part of the Fossil Fuel Follies Future! This satire of the American Petroleum Institute will have you laughing ... or crying, if you think about the truth of it too much... a must-see!
Screencapture by Mary Ellen Harte.

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☼☼☼ On the Bright Side ☼☼☼

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

OO Global Access to Family Planning Critical For Sustainability and slowing climate change, say policy experts Paul and Anne Ehrlich.

OO Doctors Call On President Obama For More Regulation On Fracking

OO Obama Says Climate Must Influence 'All' Government Policies

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OO Scientists Are Worried The IPCC Is Underestimating Sea Level Rise - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the global climate change authority, which forges a consensus over several years with thousands of scientists worldwide for its reports.

OO Philipino Envoy Yeb Sano: Kerry's Climate Warning Needs Political Backing

OO Energy Policy Expert Amory Lovins Sees Renewables Revolution In Full Swing - and lives his ideas: last year he grew 30 lbs of tropical fruit in his small garden - in his unheated house at 6,500 feet in the Colorado Rockies.

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via Earth Hour Global

OO Environmental Advocates Target Climate Change As Democratic Election Issue

OO Native Americans Vow A Last Stand To Block Keystone XL Pipeline

OO Ex US Hockey Player Mike Richter: Climate Change Threatens Winter Olympics

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Labrecque family photo, via Climate Progress.

OO Meet The Family The Tar Sands Industry Wants To Keep Quiet

OO California's Fracking Opponents Introduce New Moratorium Bill

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OO Colorado Adopts Tougher Air Rules For Oil, Gas Industry

OO Group Seeks Fracking Ban In Texas Town

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Paris. Source: Flickr, Never House.

OO Over 1,000 Cities Demand Ambitious EU Climate Targets

OO UK: Climate Change Is A 'National Security' Issue Say Military Experts

OO German Village Resists Its Destruction For Site of Coal Strip Mine

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The most comprehensive newsfeed on climate change online.

For more news on our changing climate around the world, click here.

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OO Brussels Sues Britain Over Dirty-Air Breach

OO Indonesia: Villagers Rise Up Against Illegal Mining That Destroys Their Forest


OO Carbon-Storing Forest Peoples Urge Land Rights Action

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One of the corner towers of the Forbidden City, Beijing. Source: wikipedia.

OO China State Media Criticizes Government For Lackluster Smog Efforts

OO Renewables Revolution In China Within Reach, Says WWF

☼☼☼ BRIGHT IDEAS ☼☼☼

OO Leds Much More Efficient For Greenhouses

OO Using Genetics In Forest Conservation

OO Ways To Harness The Waves are now several.

☼☼☼ BRIGHT DEVELOPMENTS ☼☼☼

OO 50% More US Coal Plants Are Slated For Earlier Retirement

OO US Solar Power Continues To Get Cheaper

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Check it out here, right now!

OO Clean Energy Boosts Remote Island Nations

OO Whistleblowers Website Started For Illegal Destruction Of Carbon-Storing Forests


OO A New Deforestation Tracking System Comes Online

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To find out how, check out Pear Energy and Ethical Electricity.

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OO Billionaire Tom Steyer To Launch A $100 Million Climate Change Ad Campaign

OO US Building Efficiency Revenues Outpaced Those For Clean Electricity In 2013

OO Energy Efficiency Is Credited For A Milestone Drop In Midwest Energy Demand

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OO India's Schools Switch To Solar Power

OO US & China To Speed Up Cooperation On Climate Change

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For more news on green technology, click here.

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OO Latin America Is Emerging As The Next Green Tech Hub

OO Texas Now Hosts One of the Largest US Solar Workforce

OO CA And Nevada Projects Will Create More Solar Jobs

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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 Coal, Oil Trains To Clog Western Rails, Drive Up Rail Rates by 2023

OO Warming US Weather Helps Create Killer Avalanches

OO Rising Sea Levels Threaten Los Angeles

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"You mean you're not going to fight for MY future because of YOUR pension?" Credit: Ajsmen91 at Wikimedia Commons.

OO Parents: Your Pensions Are Screwing Up Your Children's Future

OO Drought Threatens California Wildlife drying up fisheries, and causing animals to migrate in desperate search for food. Further drought could cause irreversible harm.

OO Switch to Gas From Coal Can Threaten Water Supply as the huge needs of fracking collide with drought in many US states.

<><><><> FOSSIL FUEL FOLLIES <><><><>

OO West Virginia: Blackwater, A Type Of Coal Waste, Now Leaking Into Creek

OO Massachusetts: Public Not Told: Derailed Gas Train Car Could Have Burned Their Town

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What can happen when a propane train derails, as this one did in Wisconsin in 1996. Source: www.weyauwegachamber.com/history

OO Texas: Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions On Residents

OO The Year 2013 In US Fossil Fuel Disasters

☼☼☼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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<><><><> GOPPING IT UP <><><><>

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Even elephants can't survive on oil. Credit: Mary Ellen Harte

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OO GOP Maine Gov. Pushes Back Against Wind Energy Bill


OO Fossil Fuels Industry invests in Mostly GOP US Senate Candidates

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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 The Symptoms Of Climate Change Are Spreading And Deadly as extreme weather eases the spread of a variety of pathogens throughout the world.

OO Extreme Weather Could Derail Developing Country Growth - report

OO Coffee Shortage May Arise Due To Drought, Climate Change, Rising Demand say analysts. An extreme drought in Brazil has forced 140 cities there to ration water.

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A luxury in the future? An extreme drought in Brazil has destroyed much of the coffee crop, sending coffee prices soaring. Source: wikipedia.

OO Brazil Drought Drying Out Cities, Crops, With Worse to Come say scientists.

OO UK Storms 'Have Changed Coastline Forever' say authorities.

OO Australian Cities Already Hotter Than 2030 Forecasts

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Wikimedia Commons

OO Canada: Unreported Spills, Alarmed Communities Along 400+Mi Enbridge Pipeline

OO Ireland: Extreme Weather Leaves Farmers And Fishermen On Brink Of Ruin

OO Slovenia Puts Freak Ice Storm Damage On Woods At 194 Million Euro

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A rarity: a tornado in winter, recently spotted in Illinois. Note snowy foreground. Credit: Dana Cottingham Fricke

OO Extreme Weather Increases UK Winter Lightning and a winter tornado is seen in the US, which meteorologist Paul Douglas has never seen before in his 30+ years of watching the weather, he tells me.

OO Report: China Outspent US on Smart Grid in 2013

OO Climate Change Could Worsen Sahel Conflicts: UN

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Ten Global Warming Indicators. Credit NOAA

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

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OO We Can't Geoengineer Our Way Out Of Global Warming, say researchers in a new study; even IF we could build the machines needed and had the money to run them, we'd have to run them 500-1,000 years without disruption, through social unrest , other environmental disasters, or any other threat to our civilization. Look back at our history: how likely is this to happen?

OO Arctic Temperatures Could Increase 23F By 2100 - very likely ensuring the destruction of Earth's Arctic thermal shield, the summer Arctic ice.

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A large iceberg breaks off from the Antarctic Pine Island glacier, which is melting rapidly. Credit NASA

OO Melting Antarctic Glacier Passes Tipping Point, Will Keep Raising Seas - the glacier's history shows that once started, the melting, persists from decades to centuries.

OO Wildlands Absorb More Carbon Pollution Than Croplands - Study

OO Emptying the Seas: Overfishing Top Down, Acidifying Bottom Up - the marine food chain, that is.

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Credit Aaron Escobar via Wikimedia Commons

OO Tree Roots Help The Ground Store Carbon by physically breaking up rocks accelerating the chemical changes that allow carbon to be absorbed by rocks and new soil, a new study indicates.

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@@@ Climate Change in the Media @@@

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

@@ Powering The Planet - Earth: The Operators' Manual This uplifting, informative and compelling program presents 8 fast-paced case studies and stories about nations and communities transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable or low-carbon sources of energy. It covers all the important bases: what we stand to lose with business as usual, but what we stand to gain by switching! The "Can We Do It?" section reminds us that we can, pointing out how we overcame an equally great challenge - sanitation - with indoor plumbing and sewer systems. One of 3 parts. Plan a party or just download it and watch it yourself, then spread the word!

@@ Weather Nation Meteorologist Paul Douglas Explains How Climate Matters - A meteorologist who's watched weather for decades, he is able to show the connection between the weather and climate change. Check out his video series now!

@@ This Is NOT Cool Climate Change youtube series by Peter Sinclair can be found at his Climate Denial Crock of the Week playlist here. Hard-hitting shorts with great graphic imagery send the points home.

!!!! 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 these starfishes I photographed one spring. 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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