THE BLOG

Climate Change This Week: Obama's Opus, Alarming Antarctic History, and More!

06/06/2014 01:50 am ET | Updated Aug 06, 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, June 5 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, much of the US is experiencing warmer than average temperatures; the east Pacific warm spot still prevents much rain from reaching California. Much of the Arctic Sea surrounding the North Pole 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.)

SOLAR KEEPS SURFING

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Credit Pete Cabrinha, www.cabrinha.com

Despite fossil fuel interests'state-level efforts to block the spread of clean energy throughout the US, solar rooftop installations showed a meteoric rise in the first quarter of 2014, with 6000+ jobs created in 2013.

Financing continues to fuel the spread of solar power, especially solar residential setups, from New York to Florida.

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AP photo/Jerry McBride via Climate Progress

Residential Solar Beats Out Commercial Installations - A First reports Kiley Kroh at Climate Progress. Utilities often claim that solar customers don't pay their fair share of costs. But an increase in residential solar reduces air pollution, and provides an energy source at peak hours when energy costs are highest.

Solar panels also feed excess energy back to the grid, alleviating peak demand pressure, and reducing transmission of energy to customers - THAT saves utilities' costs by increasing the lifetime of transmission lines.

"Solar energy is now generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to effectively power 3 million American homes, while creating thousands of new jobs nationwide and pumping nearly $15 billion a year into the U.S. economy,"

-- SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch.

US residential solar beat out commercial solar installations for the first time ever recently, as the US middle class discovers the benefits and affordability of rooftop solar. SolarCity has even started offering coupons at groupon, and new California policies continue to streamline the solar permitting process there.

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Check it out here, right now!

New EPA policies restricting carbon pollution should help boost solar and other clean energy sources even further. Solar cell costs can decrease still further by using cheaper source materials and automating production further, notes one solar market analyst at GreenTechMedia.

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How Solar Panels Keep Getting Cheaper. Source: GTM PV Pulse, June 2014

Meanwhile, Abengoa, a large solar developer, predicts that solar plants with storage will be cheaper than natural gas by 2020, and be able to perform similar functions - without the emissions!

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In China, the cost of solar power from solar panel installations is rapidly catching up to the cost of coal-fired generation and should match it by 2016, says Suntech CEO Eric Luo. Get ready to cast off coal, China!

Finally, UK's solar capacity just shot past 3 Gigawatts. Make the most of that sun!

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Our homes and health come first, said Obama. By addressing the pollution and the global warming fallout of carbon emissions, Obama is doing his part to protect both.

Obama: US Health, Homes Comes First, Carbon Emissions Second reported Suzanne Goldenberg at the UK Guardian a few days before she reported that EPA Rules Will Cut Emissions 30% by 2030. Enviros cheered Obama's proposed plan while fossil fuelies booed it.

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"This is something that is important for all of us. As parents, as grandparents, as citizens, as folks who care about the health of our families," he told a conference call hosted by the American Lung Association.

That a US president created policy for regulating carbon pollution from power plants is a historic first, and Obama deserves credit, even as he battles opposing Republicans, and his party faces mid-term elections this fall.

Fossil fuel lobbyists and Republican legislators say the rules will have little effect and hurt the economy, but a new poll shows that a solid majority of Americans support Obama's proposal.

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The proposed EPA rules will also help boost the transition to clean renewable energy, a major avenue for addressing pollution and global warming. Credit solarpanelspower.net

The announcement has already had significant effects: climate change has finally made its debut as a campaign trail topic, and the day after, China announced that a Chinese carbon cap is on the way.

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Smog over the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. With air pollution levels far worse than those in the US, China has even more impetus to address carbon emissions with a cap on them. Credit Brian Jeffrey Beggerly via Wikimedia Commons.

But the 30% reduction - based on peaking US carbon pollution levels in 2005 - isn't enough to avoid catastrophic climate heating; some environmental groups hoped Obama would propose a more ambitious plan.

It's a start, however - the good news is that the US is already a third of the way there, with some states already at that level.

@@ Stephen Colbert's Interview with Dan Esty on Obama's New Plan - and for a more colorful Colbert take on climate change, go here.

OO Nobel Laureate Economist Paul Krugman:
Climate Action Is Remarkably Cheap - New EPA Rules Would Boost US Economy

OO UN Climate Change Chief Praises New US Pollution Regulations

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OO Obama's New Carbon Cutting Plans 'Critical' To UN Climate Talks

OO Prompt Global Action Can Cut The Cost Of Going Carbon Neutral

YOU CAN ACT

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Tell Congress to take a stand for our kids here!

RISING RISKS OF GLOBAL WARMING

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Source: NOAA/Flickr

History Shows Melting Antarctic Ice Can Raise Sea Levels FAST -- 12 Feet Per Century, says a new study, reports Gerard Wynn at Responding to Climate Change. The published analysis found that the ice sheet produced sudden bursts of icebergs about 15,000 years ago that raised sea levels 52 feet over 350 years, dramatically redrawing the world's coastlines.

OO April 2014: 350th Month In A Row With Temperatures Above Average

OO Carbon Dioxide Passes Global 400 Ppm Milestone

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OO Climate Thrones: The Age Of Climate Warfare Is Here, As Are The War Profiteers - US National Security should focus on stopping global warming, not map possible US military involvements in worsening resource wars.

OO Climate Impacts Fuelling South Sudan War says minister

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Not Shrimp and Sushi, Too! Global warming will kill off many desirable seafood species by making the seas too acid to survive. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Fishing Industry To Lose Billions From Climate Change says a new report, writes Katie Valentine at Climate Progress. Increasing ocean acidification will kill off many important seafood species, especially shellfish. Some stocks will migrate poleward, benefiting more northerly countries, but threaten 400 million people who depend heavily on fish for food and a living in the tropics.

OO Heavy Rain Pummels US Southeast, Not Enough to Stop Drought

OO Dry Conditions Fuel An Alaska Wildfire That's Bigger Than Chicago

OO Firefighters Hurt, Homes Destroyed In 1,300-Acre California Wildfire

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Extreme solar heat warps rails: examples of railroad tracks buckling. Credit US Dept of Transportation.

Extreme Heat Could Warp Rails, Increase Oil Car Derailments reports Bobby Magill at Climate Central, as both oil rail transport, and extreme heat episodes from global warming, increase. Sun kinks have already caused more than 2,100 US train derailments over the past 40 years -- about 50 derailments annually; each derailment costs about $1 million.

OO North America: Most-Visited Glacier Losing An 'Astonishing' 16 Feet Of Ice Annually

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Oh, No! Not Roast Chicken, Too! Scientists worry that global warming will roast live chickens before consumers ever see them.

*** Here's my own celebrated recipe for Roast Chicken:
Squeeze lemon juice over a 5 lb chicken, sprinkle both sides liberally with salt, pepper, coarse garlic powder, and paprika. Place breast side down in a snug roasting pan, fill pan with ½ inch of water/sherry. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, then 375 F for 45 minutes. Succulent breasts (hey, don't even think it), juice, and crispy skin, all in one! Another reason to fight global warming.

OO Got Chicken? Not If Global Warming Pre-Roasts Them - US scientists fear climate change could have devastating effects on poultry farmers as temperatures reach scorching levels.

OO Close to US: Dengue Surges In Latin America

OO Brazil: Drought Fuels Blackout Fears for World Cup

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OO Massive Balkan Flooding revealed in this NASA Earth Observatory photo; the inset shows a flooded town.

OO Heat And Grit: The Consequences Of Fossil Fuels Revisit China

OO My Home Is Being Swallowed By The Sea. Will Australia Do Nothing?

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Cooling off as he watches an Australian tennis match. AP Photo/Joshua Baker at Climate Progress

OO 'Climate Change Is Here': Australia Experiences Hottest Two Years Ever Recorded

OO India Heatwaves Raise Fears Of Future Climate Impacts

OO Climate Change To Increase UK Flash Flood Risk - study

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Simple Truth: If We Can't Manage Our Growth, We'll Collapse writes George Monbiot at the UK Guardian. Basic arithmetic telling us we can't grow indefinitely is ignored. Meanwhile, this impossible proposition of continual growth by which we live is regarded as so sane, normal and unremarkable that it's rarely acknowledged. That's how you measure the depth of this problem: by our inability even to discuss it.

GOOD CLEAN NEWS

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OO US Wind Energy In 2013 = Removing 20 Million Cars

OO 2014 Commencement Speakers Call For Action On Climate Change

OO Utility Not Required: EnergyHub Saves on US Summer Electricity Bills

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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 China To Send Millions Of Polluting Cars To The Dump

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A global map of carbon tax and emission trading schemes. Source: World Bank

China Plans To Launch National Carbon Market In 2018 reports Gerard Wynn at Responding To Climate Change. China announced this to a conference hosted by the World Bank, which is trying to drive wider, global adoption of emissions trading schemes (ETS), under its "Partnership for Market Readiness" programme. Doing so could decrease US competition fears, leading it to follow China's lead.

OO Beginning of the End for Coal? CitiBank Sees Structural Decline

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Oxford University, England.Wikipedia

OO Oxford University Urged To Purge Its £3.3 Billion Fund Of Fossil Fuel Investments

OO Best Way to Elicit Concern: Say 'Global Warming' Not 'Climate Change' a recent Yale poll finds.

OO EU To Place Efficiency At Heart Of Energy Security Plans

WHAT DOESN'T WORK

>> Misleading the Public:

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Scientists say that when this little girl releases the ball, it will fall. The science behind global warming is just as basic. Why use the phrase 'scientists say' when talking about it? Sources: via Climate Progress; www.brighthubeducation.com

Nix 'Scientists Say' on Basic Global Warming Facts, says science writer Elizabeth Kolbert to the media, since it implies a debate where there is none, reports Joe Romm at Climate Progress. Global warming is almost as much an accepted fact as gravity. Now, what are we going to do about it?



OO A girl explains how global warming works - listen up, Boehner! Via Climate Reality at Climate Progress

OO US House Speaker Boehner Says He's 'Not Qualified' To Talk About Climate Science as do many other Republican policymakers - and that's irresponsible to be that ignorant on this vital subject, counter many scientists. If US children understand global warming, so can our political leaders - I hope! Start boning up, Boehner!

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OO GOP Dominated Groups Attack Obama's Plan To Cut Pollution Before It's Presented

OO Canadian Govt Doesn't Let Its Meteorologists Talk About Climate Change

OO Australian Coal Companies Used Spies To Infiltrate Group Of Activists

>> Discouraging Clean Renewable Energy:

OO Ohio GOP Legislators Vote To Roll Back Renewable Energy Standard - making it the first state to do so. Shame, shame!

>> Enabling Dirty Energy:

OO Pro-Fracking Bill Flies Through North Carolina Legislature

OO US - Mexico Gas Exports To Double In Next Five Years says EIA

OO California: Oil Lobby Kills Proposed Statewide Fracking Ban reports Emily Atkin at Climate Progress, but that simply shifts action to communities, where local anti-fracking laws are popping up and spreading.

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AP Photo/Beck Diefenbach via Climate Progress

Want to Ban Fracking in Your Community? Check out the Community Environmental Defense Council, Inc. website for legal help in creating a local ban.

CLIMATE CHANGE COMEDY CORNER

OO Great Climate Change Comedy Moments In Video Clips - time to breathe out and laugh, before reading further...

Ah, but he doesn't include Weathergirl Goes Rogue -- this is a gem!!


KEEPING CARBON STORED

OO US Govt Funds REDD+ Forest Carbon Conservation Projects

OO How To Save The World's Forests? Develop Trust

OO Next Forest Conservation Idea? Making Community Protection Economically Viable

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Forests store precious carbon, and biodiversity, such as this orchid mantis, which can not just hide on an orchid, but mimic one. Sources: www.origamicupcake.com; google images.

OO Logging, Fires Take A Hidden Toll On Amazon Rainforest

OO Greenpeace Accuses Shady Palm Oil Company, Cameroon Govt Of Illegal Logging

OO Indonesia's Haze From Forest Fires Kills 110,000 People Annually

SEEKING THE SCIENCE

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Broken sea ice at sunset. Credit Rob Johnson via Climate Central

Big Waves Bust Up Sea Ice, Help Melt It a new study indicates, reports Andrea Thompson at Climate Central. Under global warming, more powerful storms occur more frequently, and this can whip up strong waves, which can ripple to the poles. There, the waves can break up polar ice, which then further speeds its melt.

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Light colored dragonflies are doing better under global warming than their darker cousins. Credit Buiten-Beeld/Alamy

Global Warming Favors Paler Insects because lighter color reflects away more light and its heat, especially important for small-bodied organisms, a new study indicates, reports Paul Brown at the UK Guardian. Paler species of insects are doing better under global warming and increasing their range, on average.


OO UK Summer Flash Floods To Become More Frequent study shows

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Aerial view of giant Congo bog. Via World News.

Giant Carbon-Storing Peat Bog Found in Congo is the size of England, reports David Smith at the UK Guardian, and up to 23 feet thick. As long as the area remains undeveloped, this vast amount of carbon will not escape as a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, where it could cause far more global warming than exists now.

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There is, of course, much more news on the consequences and solutions to climate change. To get it, check out this annotated resource list I've compiled, "Climate Change News Resources," at Wordpress.com here. For more information on the science of climate change, its consequences and solutions you can view my annotated list of online information resources here.

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 red seaweed I photographed recently. 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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