THE BLOG

Climate Change This Week: Stormy Constipation, Solar Utility Comeback, and More!

08/16/2014 04:04 pm ET | Updated Oct 16, 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, Jan 16 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 west is far warmer than normal, and the eastern Pacific warm spot continues to prevent much rain from reaching California. The eastern half continues to experience unusually cool weather.

The Arctic ocean is ringed by landmasses 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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US solar companies are on the move: Vivint, the second-largest installer of rootop panels, will be entering the stock market, while SunPower continues to acquire accessory companies and form partnerships with others. Sungevity has expanded its online solar design and quote service to New Mexico and Vermont. FirstSolar announced yet another record-setting efficiency level for its solar cells.

SolarCity installed over 1 megawatt of rooftop solar daily over the past 3 months, leading the CEO to say, "Now's the time to capture the market and grow as fast as we can!"

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A first: a New Jersey manufacturer is running entirely on solar power! Mississippi is prepping itself for 100 megawatts of solar and wind.

California is evolving rules for developing a grid network where buildings and homes respond to grid energy needs throughout the day, even as it expands its PACE program, allowing residential solar to expand throughout the state. South Carolina just passed a major solar bill even as it sues the EPA over regulating carbon pollution - go figure...

Solar utilities continue to grow, with over 3 gigawatts of projects procured over the past year. Nationwide, though, many states lack the rules needed to spread the rooftop solar revolution, as in sunny Florida!

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Amazingly, some of the sunniest states lack the rules needed to allow rooftop solar panels. Imagine the lost revenues with every wasted ray of sunlight...

Overseas, Germany endures high solar costs, but is also breaking solar generation records - and the resulting lack of pollution is a big economic plus. India is investing over $8 million in running its railways on solar, especially in remote spots. Meanwhile, China will install more solar capacity in 2014 than the US ever has; it installed over 3 gigawatts in the first half alone.

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GOOD CLEAN NEWS

OO Wyoming: Wind Farm Powering A Million Homes
Nears Approval In Coal Country

OO Electric Car Sales Are Up Over 70% In Europe, US

OO Illinois Becoming a Major Cleantech Player through a combination of political will, capital and innovation.

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OO Construction Begins in Indonesia on World's Largest Geothermal Plant

OO DOE to Give $18 million for Geothermal Projects

OO Price of Wind Energy Goes Down in Texas giving fossil fuels a run for the money.

WHAT DOES WORK

Speaking Out:

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Youths are making a statement about climate change, from directly speaking out, to creating sustainable companies, as one Ghanian youth did, creating a sustainable bamboo bicycle company. Photo: Ghanabamboobikes.org

Youth Are Revolutionizing The Climate Debate reports Sophie Yeo at Responding to Climate Change. After being heckled by a college woman at the 2011 UN climate conference, the US spokesmen went from lukewarm to fully endorsing a new climate treaty. Other students are getting their campuses to divest from fossil fuels. Yet others are starting clean businesses and energy cooperatives. Even President Obama's children speak to him about the subject, and influence him.

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Actress Emma Thompson in the Arctic. Greenpeace

OO Emma Thompson Visits Arctic
To Send Tony Abbott A Climate Change Message

OO Bangladesh: 10,000s Protest March to Save Wetlands from Coal Plant

OO Facts Can Convince Conservatives About Global Warming - Sometimes says a new study.

Good Ideas:

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Credit: Peter Essick

IMF's Message to Nations: Raise Fossil-Fuel Taxes to Fight Climate Change reports John Cushman at InsideClimate News. 'Many energy prices in many countries are wrong. They are set at levels that do not reflect environmental damage, notably global warming,' says a recent International Monetary Fund report. Countries should be collecting pollution taxes for such filthy polluting energy.

OO Restoring Wetlands Is More Critical Than Ever as vital buffers against the flooding and tidal surges from rising sea levels and storms.

OO Airline Ticket Prices Need To Increase For Climate Policies To Work says a new study.

OO Shared Shipping Is Slowly Gaining Ground Between Market Rivals cutting energy use and costs.

Scientific Insights:

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Wildfires, such as this one in New Mexico, release huge amounts of brown carbon, which also acts as a greenhouse gas. Credit Kirstin Hariger.

Brown Carbon, Emitted by Fires, Is A New Source of Global Heating says a new study, reports Ari Phillips at Climate Progress. Brown carbon is a major component of wildfire smoke, and initial estimates indicate that it could be adding up to 50% additional heating than that from black soot, a significant source of global heating. Brown carbon is a newly recognized,little-known additional source of global heating that has not been included in the latest IPCC global warming reports.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK

Fossil Fuel Follies:

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Photo: Dan Norton

Burning Fossil Fuels Pollutes Ocean With Mercury tripling mercury levels since before the Industrial Revolution, says a new study, reports Katie Valentine at Climate Progress. Mercury pollution also occurs during mining for coal and gold. Emissions of mercury from human activities is accelerating. Too much mercury causes neurological damage and death in humans, and is accumulating in the marine food chain.

OO Keystone XL's Climate Impact Could Be Four Times Greater Than US State Dept Claimed

Keystone XL Will Spike Oil Demand and CO2 says a new study, reports Bobby Magill at Climate Central. It says the State Department may have underestimated the pipeline's CO2 emissions by as much as four times because consumer demand for oil will rise as new crude oil coming on the market because of Keystone XL will drive global crude oil prices down.

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Wikimedia Commons

OO Steady Increase in Flights Will Outweigh Aviation Carbon Cuts due to the increase in air traffic.

OO Air Traffic Growth Rates Will Outpace Its Emission Reductions, Research Shows - Plane ticket prices would need to rise by at least 1.4% a year for emission levels to fall, bucking trend of lower air fares

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Drilling began recently in the Arctic for oil, the burning of which is melting the Arctic. Photo: USGS

OO ExxonMobil And Russia Have Begun Drilling For Oil In The Arctic

Misleading the public:

OO Climate Change Denying Scientists Get More Media Coverage Than Those Who Don't

RISING RISKS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

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Weather Systems Become Increasingly Blocked, Making Extreme Weather More Common says a new study, reports Damian Carrington at the UK Guardian. The stalling of wet and dry weather systems - remaining stuck for weeks over an area - has more than doubled in summers over the last decade, creating more extreme weather, either as extreme storms or heat waves, for example. These "blocking patterns" are correlated with the slowdown of the Arctic jetstream, which, in turn, is being affected by melting polar ice.

These observations and changes fit the predictions stemming continued global warming outlined in the IPCC reports. The resulting extreme weather is causing massive, costly damage to human society.

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Another symptom of the California drought: low reservoirs.

OO Bad News For California: El Nino Will Be Too Weak to Relieve Drought as NOAA predicts a much weaker El Nino than one needed to generate precipitation.

OO Get Used To Toilet-To-Tap Water, Californians Told as the drought continues.

OO California: Heavy Rains Probably Won't Do Much Good For Drought because much of it evaporates in extreme dryness before hitting the ground. Meanwhile, the thunderstorms increase the chances of fire frome lightning strikes.

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Putting A Climate Context On Southern California's Flash Floods A confluence of extreme atmospheric conditions over Southern California, possibly with an assist from the intense drought in the state, set the stage for the torrential rains and flash flooding that washed away cars and homes in some areas reports Andrea Thompson at Climate Central. And while the U.S. Southwest is expected to increasingly dry out in a warming, when it does rain, it is more likely to come as a heavy downpour.

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OO Australia: 'Abnormally Early' Bushfire Season

Europe's Forests 'Particularly Vulnerable' To Rapid Climate Change says a new study, reports Alex Kirby at the UK Guardian. These rapid changes are particularly harmful to long-lived ecosystems like forests; damage from wind, bark beetles, and wildfires has increased significantly in European forests in recent years.

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Credit: Brian McNoldy at twitter

OO Picture This: Fire Clouds & A Slew of Pacific Storms are some of the extreme recent weather in photos displayed here.

OO How Extremely Hot Will It Be in the US? 87 Cities, 4 Scenarios Will Show You

OO Critical Power Plants, Energy Infrastructure Vulnerable to Flooding - from more intense weather of the sort increasingly occurring, new maps from the Energy Information Administration show.

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Credit: Matt Clark at Flickr

Tornado Outbreaks Could Have a Climate Change Assist says a new study, reports Brian Kahn at Climate Central. Days with more tornadoes have become more common over the past 60 years, a trend that new research says could have a climate change connection. Changes in heat and moisture content in the atmosphere, brought on by a warming world, could be playing a role in making tornado outbreaks more common and severe in the U.S.

KEEPING CARBON STORED: FOREST S UPDATE

OO NASA: Forest Loss Leaps In Bolivia, Vietnam's Mekong Region

OO Singapore To Fine Domestic, Foreign Companies For Causing Haze - its parliament ruled.

OO Borneo: Oil Palm, Mining Prompts Local Govt To Declare Water Unsafe For Drinking

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Peat swamps harbor endangered wildlife, like this Sumatran tiger. Credit: Monika Betley at Wikipedia Creative Commons.

OO Large Carbon-Storing Peat Swamp Threatened by Palm Oil

OO 95% Of Amazon Deforestation Happens Near Roads Or Major Rivers

OO Biomass Burning Accounts For 18% Of CO2 Emissions,
Kills A Quarter Of A Million People Annually

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Clouded leopards, tigers and other big game animals seem to have disappeared from a once vibrant national park in India, which has lost much forest due to resource extraction. It faces further forest loss from growing human pressures. Wikipedia.

OO India: Large National Park Lost Many Species, Threatened By Forest Loss

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 these crocuses 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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